OXFORD United made it into the hat for the second round of the FA Cup, but only thanks to a linesman's flag.

U's striker James Constable missed an open goal in the first half, and they were nearly made to pay when Ryan Moss headed home a Jamie Mudge cross in the third minute of injury time.

But with the Blue Square South side celebrating, United were let off the look when the linesman in front of the Oxford Mail stand raised his flag.

Most people in the ground thought he ruled Mudge offside, but he later confirmed it was for handball.

It looked a highly-dubious decision, but one for which home supporters were extremely grateful.

Oxford had once again dominated long periods of the game, but missed a couple of guilt-edged chances and looked like paying the price.

Constable was the main culprit, twice failed to find the net when he should have done.

Dorchester keeper Gareth Stewart was quickly off his line to deny the striker in the tenth minute, but Constable had only himself to blame for his next miss.

Lewis Haldane had done extremely well to work some space on the right, and his inch-perfect cross landed on the head of United's leading scorer inside the six-yard box.

Somehow, with the goal at his mercy, Constable screwed his header wide of the far post to the amazement of everyone in the ground.

Boss Darren Patterson made two changes from the side that lost against Forest Green in the Setanta Shield on Tuesday night.

Richard Groves and Yemi Odubade dropped to the bench, with Adam Murray and Sam Deering coming in.

The U's manager opted to play Joe Burnell at right back, moving Matt Day to centre half and pushing Eddie Hutchinson into midfield.

Haldane, who had been substituted at half-time in the two previous games, obviously felt he had a point to prove and started the match very well.

He forced an early corner before then crossing for Constable to record the first effort on target, a header from eight yards that was comfortably saved by Stewart.

James Gleeson tried his luck from 30 yards for the visitors, Billy Turley saving easily.

United then had three little scares inside a minute.

A corner from Nick Crittenden found Kevin Hill unmarked 12 yards out, but the former Torquay man could not get any direction on his effort.

Gary Bowles then tried his luck from inside his own half, spotting Turley off his line, but the keeper gathered easily.

The best opportunity fell to Mudge who raced through and again tried to lob Turley, but his effort was off target.

They were really only half-chances, but Constable's clear-cut miss minutes later was a golden opportunity wasted.

A free-kick from Deering was flicked on by Constable and then it was Chris Willmott's turn to miss a sitter, heading over from four yards.

Luckily for him, the offside flag was up, but he still should have scored.

Haldane chested a long ball into the path of Constable. He ran at the defence, opened up a shooting chance from 20 yards, but fired a left-foot effort over the bar.

From a Deering corner, Hutchinson flicked on and Willmott jumped with keeper Stewart, the ball squirming onto the outside of a post and behind for another corner.

United started the second-half well, Turley's long clearance finding its way through to Haldane in the area. His cross was met powerfully by Trainer, but his right-foot effort whistled over the bar.

Day then attempted a back-header to Turley from a long punt forward, but sold his keeper short and Ryan Moss clattered into the U's stopper.

Turley lay motionless, and although triallist physio Alex Anzelmo signalled to the United bench he needed to be repla-ced, the keeper got up, shook himself, and carried on.

Ten seconds later the whole ground heard Turley screaming at his defence. He had recovered!

Patterson had seen enough and replaced Constable and Trainer with Jamie Guy and Odubade.

Turley then saved well from Wes Fogde and Mudge.

Odubade tried his luck with a dipping effort from the corner of the box, but Stewart saved comfortably.

The home fans were growing ever-more frustrated as United failed to string a sequence of passes together - several times they tried to switch the play in one killer ball rather than playing it simple.

With the game approaching the final ten minutes, Oxford were let off the hook when Willmott was far too easily brushed off the ball by Moss, but he fired his shot wide of the goal with Fogden better placed in the centre.

Day tried a 35-yard effort as the game entered injury time, but it went wide.

And then Oxford had their lucky break, giving them a second chance.

But they know that they have to end their dreadful away form - they have won just once on the road all season - if they are to make the second round.