AN encouraging second-half display saw Oxford United finish their penultimate pre-season friendly all square against Fulham.

Anthony Knockaert’s quality set piece gave Fulham a deserved lead at the break.

But the home side, who had created virtually nothing in the first half, got back on level terms in the 57th minute with a goal credited to John Mousinho.

And the U’s looked the more likely side to go and win the friendly in the latter stages.

Substitute Kyran Lofthouse saw his shot hit the woodwork three minutes from time as a depleted Fulham side, relegated from the Premier League in May, held on.

Chris Cadden’s complicated move was cleared in time for him to start, while Jamie Mackie also came in to play for the first time this season.

The striker’s inclusion allowed Malachi Napa to return to more familiar territory on the right flank and the winger was bright early on.

He helped force a couple of quick corners, which failed to test Fulham goalkeeper Marek Rodak.

Cadden looked to get forward wherever possible, but it was another debutant who was head and shoulders above the rest.

Knockaert, signed from Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday, hugged the right touchline and caused United plenty of problems cutting on to his left foot.

There was little surprise, then, when he opened the scoring on 24 minutes.

Alex Gorrin conceded a free-kick 25 yards out after giving the ball away cheaply and despite the distance, Knockaert’s delicate set piece was precise enough to sneak in the corner past Simon Eastwood’s dive.

Within four minutes Napa accidentally gave Fulham a good chance to double their lead. His loose pass sent Rui Fonte racing away on the halfway line, but Rob Dickie continued his impressive pre-season by chasing down the Portuguese forward and forcing him out for a goal kick.

While United had precious few sights of Rodak’s goal before half-time, boss Karl Robinson was more irked in the first half by a reckless challenge on Tariqe Fosu which stretched the term ‘friendly’.

Tayo Edun was booked for the tackle, from which the U’s winger thankfully got up without any damage.

Cyrus Christie hit the woodwork early in the second half, before the home side warmed to their task.

Napa fired over wastefully from the edge of the box, but a minute later United were level.

Cameron Brannagan’s set piece from the right swung into a group of players and ended up bouncing into the net. Mousinho got the congratulations, but his sheepish celebration suggested he either knew little about it, or a Fulham player had got the decisive touch.

Knockaert almost came up with a second high-class finish of the night to quickly restore the lead, unleashing a dipping volley from range which only just cleared Eastwood’s crossbar.

But United carried more of a threat and when Brannagan was fouled on the edge of the box James Henry, on at the break for Mackie, saw his free-kick flick wide off the wall.

Henry was involved in a flowing move which saw Kevin Berkoe cross to give fellow substitute Tony McMahon a shooting chance 11 minutes from time, but from 15 yards his effort was well blocked.

United came closest to winning it late on.

Brannagan’s clever pass found Lofthouse, who cut inside and his shot squirmed out of Rodak’s grasp, only to hit the outside of his left-hand post.

United complete their pre-season schedule at Solihull Moors on Saturday.

Oxford Utd (4-2-3-1): Eastwood (Stevens 80), Cadden (McMahon 70), Dickie (Long 80), Mousinho (Jones 80), Ruffels, Gorrin (McCreadie 80), Hanson (Berkoe 70), Napa, Brannagan, Fosu (Lofthouse 70), Mackie (Henry HT).

Fulham (4-3-3): Rodak, Christie, Odoi, Opoku, Edun, McDonald, Francois, de la Torre, Knockaert, Fonte, Ayite.

Unused subs: L Ashby-Hammond, Drameh, Mundle-Smith, Le Marchand, Bryan, O'Riley, Harris, Kebano, Kamara.

Referee: Anthony Coggins.

Attendance: 2,549 (619 visitors).