MATTY Taylor came up with a 90th-minute equaliser to stretch a depleted Oxford United’s unbeaten run to 12 matches.

A first defeat in almost two months looked on the cards after Gareth Evans’s penalty deservedly gave Portsmouth the lead just before the hour mark.

United, already without seven first-team players, had operated a makeshift back four since before half-time after Josh Ruffels was forced off with a knock.

It saw Rob Dickie used as an unorthodox right back, illustrating the visitors’ lack of options.

But they mounted a stirring comeback to get on top, with Taylor applying the finishing touch in the final minute of regular time.

It came in front of 1,747 travelling fans, who were quickly celebrating the hardest-won of points.

Faced with a mounting injury list, boss Karl Robinson changed system to a diamond in midfield and played Matty Taylor and Jamie Mackie as a front two.

Tariqe Fosu, who looked shattered on Tuesday night, was judged fit enough to start in the No 10 role and was busy early on.

United made a bright start in testing conditions, after kick-off was held up by a chaotic series of events to mark Remembrance Sunday.

But they were unable to test Pompey goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray and instead the home side began to make headway.

On 16 minutes Rob Dickie failed to cut out a through ball and Simon Eastwood needed to be alert to come out and block Ryan Williams. The ball fell loose to John Marquis on the edge of the box, but his goal-bound shot was crucially blocked by John Mousinho.

Josh Ruffels was in the right place at the right time ten minutes later to keep out an effort from Ronan Curtis 15 yards out, after Marquis had laid off smartly.

Marquis then headed a cross straight at Eastwood, but United were unhappy the game had not stopped for a head injury on Mackie.

While some home fans doubted the veteran’s claims, the blood-spattered shirt and subsequent departure to the changing room for stitches on a wound just above his left eye provided a clear-cut response.

United weathered the brief spell down to ten men, Mousinho making amends for a mistake to get back and pressure Marquis into a wild lash wide from the edge of the box.

Mark Sykes shot over on the turn as United got forward for a rare attack, but the visitors were quickly reorganising again.

Josh Ruffels came off worst in a 50/50 sliding challenge with Ross McCrorie. The Pompey full back was booked, but Ruffels had to come off.

With no left back on the bench, Robinson brought on Elliott Moore to play at centre half. Dickie was shunted out to right back, while Sam Long filled in for Ruffels.

Mackie by now had switched to the right as the visitors finished the half 4-1-4-1, but they almost nicked a goal in stoppage time when Sykes had another shot on the turn.

It beat MacGillivray and was cleared off the line by Sean Raggett, who will have breathed a huge sigh of relief when it fell safe after hitting the prone goalkeeper in the six-yard box.

The interval gave United a chance to regroup, but when play restarted the home side created the clearer chances.

Curtis rattled the crossbar on 50 minutes after Williams’s pass had forced him slightly wide.

United’s defence was finally breached just before the hour mark, when Moore brought down Ben Close in the box.

Eastwood had saved a spot kick in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup tie against Sunderland, but he could do nothing about Evans’s powerful effort.

The U’s No 1 did keep out fierce strikes from Evans and Williams as Pompey went for the jugular against a visiting side who looked dead on their feet.

Fresh legs were introduced from the bench, with Anthony Forde quickly forcing MacGillivray into a save with a free-kick from wide on the left.

It was the start of United’s best spell of the game, as they came on strongly.

Half a dozen corners were forced in front of the travelling fans, one of which forcing an almighty scramble which saw Taylor having a shot blocked.

Forde curled another set piece just wide as Pompey got nervous late on, but they appeared to have done the job.

That was until the 90th minute, when Henry dug out a terrific cross from wide on the right for Taylor to nod in at the back post and preserve United’s unbeaten run.

Portsmouth (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray, McCrorie (Bolton 84), Burgess, Raggett, Brown, Close, Naylor, Williams, Evans, Curtis, Marquis.

Unused subs: Bass, Downing, Cannon, Harness, Harrison, Haunstrup.

Booked: McCrorie.

Oxford Utd (4-1-2-1-2): Eastwood, Long, Dickie, Mousinho, Ruffels (Moore 42), Gorrin, Sykes, Henry, Fosu (Forde 70), Mackie (Baptiste 70), Taylor.

Unused subs: Stevens, Lofthouse, Lopes, Agyei.

Booked: Mackie.

Referee: Ben Toner (Lancashire).

Attendance: 18,528 (1,747 visitors).