Tom Craddock struck his first two goals at home for his new club to give Oxford United a dramatic and famous victory over League Two leaders Port Vale.

Micky Adams’ promotion favourites had been looking for a seventh successive win and had won four out of four away in the league before their visit to the Kassam Stadium.

But Craddock fired the U's in front with a fine headed opening goal in the 61st minute.

And then, when centre back Gareth Owen rifled in an equaliser in the first minute of stoppage time, that looked like bringing the Valiants a draw.

But Craddock wasn't done with yet, and he snatched victory just a minute later with a cool finish.

The £50,000 signing from Luton struck his first just after the hour.

Josh Payne’s lofted cross to the left side of the six-yard box was met perfectly by Craddock, running in from deep and deceiving defender Adam Yates, and he planted a header past the keeper and into the far corner.

United looked like winning it 1-0, although Simon Clist missed a great chance to double the advantage when he sliced a volley wide.

But Owen drove low past Ryan Clarke from 15 yards in the 91st minute.

However, United went straight down the other end and Matt Green did well to lay the ball to his left, where Craddock applied the coolest of finishes, planting his shot past Stuart Tomlinson.

Craddock’s goals ensured there would be no best-since-1928 feat of six successive clean sheet for the Valiants.

There was a big-match atmosphere in the stadium, befitting a battle against the league leaders, with both sets of fans in good voice.

Chris Wilder left Jack Midson on the bench, despite his goal in midweek, so it was a front three of Alfie Potter, James Constable, back from a one-match ban, and Tom Craddock.

Steve Kinniburgh remained at left back, with Anthony Tonkin not having trained all week because of his illness.

United had an early let-off when Ryan Clarke spilled a free-kick driven in from the left and Marc Richards pounced on the loose ball with a shot that appeared to hit Craddock on the head, in front of goal, before being cleared.

Asa Hall saw plenty of the ball in the opening exchanges, and showed he wasn’t afraid to try a shot.

After a couple of efforts from the edge of the box that didn’t get anywhere, he struck an excellent left-footed drive in the 15th minute that was beaten out by goalkeeper Stuart Tomlinson.

United were quick to get the ball forward and it needed a fine saving tackle on Potter by centre back John McCombe to halt one dangerous attack, and speed off the mark in coming out of goal by Tomlinson, as Potter charged goalwards, to stop another.

A slick free-kick, straight off the training ground, nearly brought Oxford a breakthrough in the 18th minute.

Ben Purkiss’s inswinging free-kick from the left was knocked into just the right area, and Constable met it with a delicate flicked header, but again Tomlinson got right behind it with a low save.

Vale themselves were not far away from scoring at a free-kick at the other end, Gareth Owen heading it back across goal from the far post and Lee Collins directing it just a yard wide of the angle of post and bar.

Trying to use the full width of the Kassam Stadium pitch, Oxford spread play well at times and space was created inside. Simon Heslop took advantage one time with a cracking 24-yard drive that arrowed just past the right post.

The contest continued to be end-to-end, and Clarke showed good reactions to reach back and paw away Justin Richards’ chipped cross from the right from underneath his crossbar.

Attacking towards their fans in the second half, Potter was even more threatening , delivering some fine crosses from the right.

But Justin Richards squandered a great chance to score against his old club on 54 minutes. The ref played good advantage after a foul on a Vale player, and when the low cross came in from the right, Richards blazed over the bar, unmarked, from eight yards.

Clarke then made a magnificent save to turn Gary Roberts’ angled ten-yard drive around his near post for a corner with a strong left hand, just before the hour.

Then came that dramatic finish, and United's fans were in dreamland.

Oxford Utd: Clarke, Purkiss, Worley, Franks, Kinniburgh, Heslop, Payne, Hall (Tonkin 86), Potter (Clist 75), Constable (Green 86), Craddock. Subs not used: Midson, Baker, Deering, Eastwood.

Referee: Gavin Ward (Surrey).

Att: 7,947 (968 from Port Vale).