OXFORD United lost a lead for the second time in as many games as they came away empty-handed from their lunchtime kick-off with Millwall.

Liam Sercombe put the home side in front when he applied the finishing touch to Marvin Johnson’s cross in the 31st minute.

United had drawn at Port Vale a week earlier despite being 2-0 up and again they were unable to hold on.

Steve Morison quickly equalised with a classy volley, before Aiden O’Brien struck what proved to be the winner five minutes after the break.

United pushed for a way back into the game, but without success.

Both teams named unchanged sides for the lunchtime kick-off, which took a while to get going.

Aside from a Chris Maguire free-kick which found the side netting, there were 17 minutes on the clock before either side carved out a chance.

It came via a superb pass from Millwall goalkeeper Jordan Archer, who gathered a Chey Dunkley header at a corner and launched the ball downfield.

He found Lee Gregory’s run and the striker went clear on goal, only to stab a hurried shot wide to let United off the hook.

The hosts were too quick to play forward in the opening stages, which had predictably poor results given their diminutive front two of Maguire and Dan Crowley.

But gradually they began to settle down and find a rhythm.

Johnson built on his promising display in the 2-2 draw at Port Vale a week earlier and provided United’s best outlet.

The winger laid on the opening goal in the 31st minute, when Byron Webster misjudged a ball forward by Joe Skarz.

Johnson had plenty of time to assess his options as he drove into the box from the left, but got his delivery spot on to pick out Sercombe at the back post.

The midfielder could not miss from close range to collect his third goal of the season.

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But the advantage only lasted five minutes, when Millwall equalised through a flash of class.

A ball forward was only half-cleared and looped up to Morison, who buried his 25-yard volley into the far corner past a stranded Simon Eastwood.

If United could do little about that strike, they had ample chance to deal with the move which led to Millwall’s second goal five minutes after half-time.

There appeared little danger down by the corner flag, but Fred Onyedinma managed to get free as Dunkley slipped.

The low cross beat everyone in the middle but was perfect for the unmarked O’Brien, who had time to steady himself before slamming the ball past Eastwood and Curtis Nelson on the line.

It could easily have been 2-2 a couple of minutes later, but Lundstram headed a Maguire corner wide when unmarked eight yards out.

As United pushed forward in search of an equaliser they became increasingly susceptible to the pace of Onyedinma on the counter-attack.

Twice in quick succession the youngster streaked clear – denied once by a superbly-timed tackle from Rothwell, while Eastwood saved his shot at the next opening.

In need of a goal, U’s boss Michael Appleton preferred the pace of youngster Tyler Roberts to the more experienced Kane Hemmings and Ryan Taylor.

The home side saw plenty of the ball as Millwall sat deep and protected their lead, but chances were few and far between.

The substitute came as close as anyone to drawing United level when his shot was deflected on to the crossbar after Johnson had won the ball in the area.

They had to wait until stoppage-time for another golden opportunity, when an unmarked Nelson headed straight at Archer.

Oxford Utd: Eastwood, Edwards (T Roberts 63), Nelson, Dunkley, Skarz (Hemmings 85), Sercombe, Rothwell, Lundstram, Johnson, Crowley, Maguire.

Unused subs: Buchel, Raglan, Ruffels, MacDonald, Taylor.

Millwall: Archer, Romeo, Craig, Webster, Ferguson, Onyedinma, Williams, Thompson (Abdou 88), O’Brien (Martin 66), Morison, Gregory (Butcher 77).

Unused subs: King, Hutchinson, Worrall, Smith.

Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire).

Attendance: 7,944 (934 visitors).