James Constable fired home a second-half penalty to keep Oxford United's play-off hopes alive in a highly-charged promotion battle at Broadhall Way.

Reduced to ten men by the first-half sending-off of Damian Batt, and falling a goal behind when David Bridges shot Stevenage in front on 51 minutes, United's season looked to be all but finished.

But Adam Chapman went on a determined run, cutting into the penalty area from the right, and as he cut between two players, he went over the leg of Mitchell Cole, and the ref pointed immediately to the spot.

Constable then drove in the penalty for his 22nd goal of the season.

Considering they had to play with ten men for so long, United were excellent.

They had been the better side for large chunks, but their troubles began when they had Batt sent off in the 24th minute.

Batt was shown the red card in the 24th minute for a professional foul in bringing down Cole, the Oxford defender making the mistake of letting the England C winger get goalside of him.

But Billy Turley's furious reaction showed he clearly thought Batt had won the ball, though from the referee's angle you could understand why he thought Batt had illegally denied a goalscoring opportunity.

The free-kick, on the very edge of United's area, was touched to one side for Morison whose fierce drive was well saved by Turley.

Stevenage opened the scoring when Steve Morison got to the right bye-line, cut the ball back and Bridges shot home from ten yards.

Bridges was later stretchered off after a collision with Billy Turley, when he put the ball in the net again, but was offside.

There were so many Oxford fans at the ground, with queues to the turnstiles stretching hundreds of yards an hour before kick-off, that the police and safety officers gave the visitors an extra secton of seats.

But that was still nowhere near enough to accommodate the near 2,000-strong support, who were in terrific voice.

As they have done in many of their recent away games, Oxford made a great start, sharper to the ball than Stevenage, and closing their opponents down at every opportunity.

Inside the first minute, Adam Chapman forced keeper Chris Day into a low save from a volley, after Adam Murray's free-kick was headed out.

As the rain pelted dopwn, and it became very dark, the U's continued taking the gamer to Boro, and they had a spell of four corners in quick succession.

From the third of these, David Bridges had to hurriedly head over his own bar with Day floundering.

Great play by Murray released Craig Nelthorpe for a raid down the left, yet clear-cut opportunities were few and far between for either side.

Turley miskicked a back pass to cause some alarm on one occasion, but redeemed himself with an excellent clean take when a testing left-wing cross came over moments later.

After Batt's dismissal, Chris Wilder kept with four at the back and four in midfield, leaving James Constable on his own up front, and with Chapman moving back into the right back slot.

With the extra man, Stevenage began to find more space as they broke forward, and Michael Bostwick shot well wide after an overlapping run by right back Ronnie Henry.

In the closing minutes of the half, Craig Nelthorpe and Murray both went close with angled free-kicks.

At half-time, the U's chose to send on Kevin Sandwith for Nelthorpe and seconds after falling behind to Bridges' goal, Sandwith brought an excellent save out of Day, his fierce long-range drive deflected on the way and pushed around his post by the keeper at full stretch.

Another tactical change helped bring United's equaliser.

Craig Farrell came on for Chris Carruthers and it was a determined run by the sub which earned a right-wing corner that put the visitors back on the front foot.

And when Chapman darted into the box on his brave, positive run, that brought Oxford United's season alive again.

There was still plenty of action in the remaining minutes, though. Turley saved with his foot from Junior Mendes, and did well not to handle the ball outside the box after his momentum made him slide out on the greasy surface.

The fourth official indicated seven m inutes of stoppage time to make it a nervy finish for the supporters of both sides, but it ended all square.

Oxford Utd: Turley, Batt, Willmott, Foster, Carruthers (Farrell 59); Haldane (Odubade 85), Chapman, Murray, Clist, Nelthorpe (Sandwith h-t), Constable. Subs not used: Hinchliffe, Hutchinson.