A LATE equaliser denied Liam Manning a winning start as Oxford United boss, as the U’s extended their winless run to 11 games.

United again put in an improved performance at fellow Sky Bet League One strugglers Morecambe, but were unable to hold on for all three points.

Marcus Browne gave the U’s the lead just before half-time when he popped up at the back post to tap in after a well-worked move.

Ash Hunter denied Manning a winning start though when he rifled in an equaliser with just three minutes to go.

Manning made three changes to the side which lost 3-2 at home to Derby County last weekend – a game the former MK Dons boss watched from the stands.

In came Marcus McGuane and Yanic Wildschut, plus Oisin Smyth for his first U’s league start – 14 months after joining the club from Dungannon Swifts.

The trio replaced James Henry, out with a hamstring injury, Lewis Bate and Djavan Anderson.

The latter two were named on the bench, although Bate requires surgery to deal with a hand problem.

Both sides had opportunities in what was a fast-paced opening section of the first half.

Smyth whipped in a left-wing corner which Sam Long headed over after six minutes, before Daniel Crowley almost caught Simon Eastwood out moments later.

The midfielder’s shot from 25 yards tested United’s goalkeeper, who managed to claim the ball at the second attempt.

Straight at the other end, it was Connor Ripley’s turn to take a shot at the second opportunity.

Yanic Wildschut cleverly made space for himself as he cut in from the left and shot from range.

After spilling the ball, Ripley got his body over it as Gatlin O’Donkor ran into the penalty box.

Ripley then did well to hold a stinging Wildschut effort from the left corner of the penalty area with just over quarter of an hour played.

Both sides cancelled each other out, before the game roared back to life again in the closing stages of the first half.

Jensen Weir bent a shot a couple of yards wide, before McGuane was afforded time and space to shoot, but sent his effort flying over the stand housing the U’s fans.

With four minutes to go until the break, United took the lead.

Wildschut did well on the left to get to the byline, before sending in a low ball across the face of the penalty area.

Browne was left unmarked at the back post and was on hand to tap in the first goal of the Manning era.

In stoppage time, Cameron Brannagan saw a free kick from the left-hand of the penalty area cleared off the line by Farrend Rawson.

The second half lacked action in either penalty box as a midfield battle ensued.

Manning’s first substitution saw Kyle Joseph replace Wildschut just after the hour mark.

The Swansea City loanee was involved a few minutes later when he span a header towards goal from a Browne cross, however Ripley was able to claim the ball comfortably.

Browne then collected the ball from deep and fizzed a right-footed shot wide from 25 yards.

Manning’s second alteration saw O’Donkor replaced by Josh Murphy with quarter of an hour to go.

The home side grabbed a late equaliser though when substitute Hunter cut inside from the left and arrowed a low effort inside Eastwood’s near post.

Morecambe (3-4-3): Ripley; Simeu, Rawson, Bedeau (Watts 77); Love, Shaw (Austerfield 77), Weir (Stockton 52), Gibson; Crowley, Niasse (Hunter 77), Mayor (Souaré 52).

Unused subs: Smith, Delaney.

Booked: Mayor, Simeu, Crowley.

Oxford United (4-2-3-1): Eastwood; Long, Moore, Findlay, Brown; McGuane, Brannagan; Browne, Smyth (Bate 90+3), Wildschut (Joseph 63); O’Donkor (Murphy 74).

Unused subs: McGinty, Anderson, Fleming, Goodrham.

Booked: Browne.

Referee: Sam Barrott (West Riding)

Attendance: 4,260 (543 away)