Oxford United battled away to earn a hard-fought point in an action-packed goalless draw at Broadhall Way on Monday night.

Honours finished even in the end in front of the Setanta cameras, but both sides had good goalscoring chances.

Billy Turley made one outstanding save in the second half while sub Rob Duffy missed a great opportunity to win the match in stoppage time when he fired across goal from 12 yards.

Both teams knew they had the opportunity to go top of the Blue Square Premier with a win, after the afternoon results, but just like last season, the highly competitive clash ended in a draw.

After good link-up play between Yemi Odubade and Gary Twigg, Odubade turned quickly when Alex Jeannin played the ball into him from the left, but fired over from eight yards.

Straight away Stevenage broke swiftly to the other end and Steve Morison powered in a downward header - but Turley was equal to it, pushing it around the foot of his right-hand post.

It was fast and furious stuff, and in the ninth minute, after a swift break inspired by Phil Trainer, the ball fell invitingly to Carl Pettefer, 25 yards out, yet the midfielder sliced his shot well wide.

Pettefer was back in the side, in place of Michael Standing, to add some fresh legs in the center of the park against a Stevenage side who had had more rest than the visitors, by playing their previous match last Friday night.

Luke Foster might also have been involved, at least on the bench, but both he and Marvin Robinson were disciplined and sent home after arriving 45 minutes late at the team's pre-match meal.

Stevenage passed the ball around smartly, to feet whenever they could, and Craig Dobson made some pacy runs down the right to create openings, although on one occasion Matt Day defended superbly to close him down.

United suffered a blow less than half an hour into the game when leading scorer Gary Twigg had to go off, following a heavy challenge.

On came Rob Duffy to partner Odubade. It represented a big opportunity for last year's main marksman.

Day was very fortunate to escape a card when he lost the ball through a poor touch and then tried to recover it with a bad two-footed challenge. This ref ignored it but on another day it could have been red.

Mickey Corcoran produced a great challenge when Morison shaped to shoot in a very dangerous position 11 yards out.

The U's fans got behind their team wit a long rendition of "Single Malt's Yellow Army" and "Come on Oxford" at the start of the second half, which was marked by two outstanding tackles from Eddie Hutchinson to break up Stevenage attacks.

Turley pulled off a linding save from Morison nine minutes into the second half, diving full-length to turn the striker's shot for a corner after Morrison had escaped Day's marking.

It was a top-drawer save.

Trainer displayed great desire, and real class when he determinedly made the ball his just inside the right edge of the area, at the end of a flowing Oxford move, and was unlucky to see his angled right-footed flash past the far post.

Turley saved a long-range shot from Adam Miller, but not before Odubade had gone close by racing on to a Duffy flick-on. He fired wide, but was given offside anyway.

Jim Smith's man were looking the more likely to score in the second half and after excellent hold-up play by Odubade, Alex Jeannin picked out Duffy at the far post with a deep cross. The sub met it sweetly with a strong header, which Alan Julian just beat out, Hutchinson then denied by a gutsy block challenge as he tried to put in the rebound.

Duffy had a wonderful chance to win it at the death, but couldn't take it.

Oxford Utd: Turley, Corcoran, Quinn, Day, Anaclet (Gnohere 90), Hutchinson (Rose 77), Pettefer, Trainer, Jeannin, Odubade, Twigg (Duffy 29). Subs not used: Tardif, Standing.

Att: 3,024.