OXFORD United pulled together in adversity to get off the mark for the Sky Bet League One season with a victory full of character at Accrington Stanley.

Injuries and illness depleted a side, who had to finish their journey by cars after a problem with their team bus.

James Henry scored the side’s first league goal of the season on the stroke of half-time after impressing from the first whistle.

Simon Eastwood conceded a penalty which was converted by Ryan Cassidy 19 minutes from time, but United quickly hit back.

There was an element of fortune about it, as Joel Cooper's shot hit two players and flew in.

Cameron Brannagan celebrated, but it was later credited as a Joe Pritchard own goal.

Dion Charles was then sent off for an offence in a goalmouth scramble, before Matty Taylor struck a late double – the first of which was a high quality finish – to get United up and running in fine style.

United’s day began badly when their coach broke down and when the team arrived an XI had to be cobbled together after a flu bug hit several players.

Three-quarters of their back four were struggling but were fit enough to start, but Cameron Brannagan was only deemed well enough to make the bench.

The depleted side rallied, though. It was admittedly not the highest bar, but they produced the best 45 minutes of their league season to get a foothold at the Crown Ground.

United went toe-to-toe with Accrington, earning the right to play as the game wore on.

They were even a threat from corners, as the visitors twice came close within a minute from set pieces midway through the half.

From the first set piece Dan Agyei’s header hit the crossbar after Hall pulled the ball back for an unmarked Henry to deliver.

United kept the pressure on and from the third corner in the set piece Rob Atkinson’s volley was denied by a goalline clearance from Joe Pritchard.

Eastwood was worried just once in the first half, as the United goalkeeper nervously watched a header from Cameron Burgess just clear his crossbar and land on the roof of the net half an hour in.

Taylor quickly had a great chance to open his account for the season after Hall’s quick release. Accrington goalkeeper Toby Savin came right to the edge of his area and was vulnerable to a lob, but United’s No 9 could not lift the ball over him.

The visitors had done everything except score – but the goal arrived in the final minute of the half.

Liam Kelly’s lofted pass found Taylor in the left channel. He played in Agyei, who did well to stay on his feet and cut back into the six-yard box, where Henry tapped in after Hall failed to convert.

It was their first league goal of the season – and richly deserved.

Stanley boss John Coleman made a double change and his side came out on the front foot.

Other than a sweet long-range strike from Ross Sykes which was saved by Eastwood, United were not troubled defensively until midway through the half.

The goalkeeper tipped over a header from Colby Bishop as the hosts forced three corners in succession.

United had chances to counter on the break but could not make them stick and a handball from Anthony Forde kept the pressure on.

From the resulting free-kick Eastwood came and missed the ball, ending up making contact with Harvey Rodgers.

After initially waving away appeals for a penalty, referee Ross Joyce then pointed to the spot.

Cassidy smashed in an equaliser, but within two minutes United were ahead again in bizarre fashion.

Cooper’s first touches after coming on saw him cut in from the left and shoot. The ball was blocked by Mark Hughes and ricocheted off Pritchard into the net.

Stanley’s hopes of getting something from the game went with a straight red for Charles, given by the referee after his assistant spotted an infringement during a melee in United’s box.

The visitors then cruised to victory thanks to Taylor’s double.

He made it 3-1 with a smashing shot after taking down Henry’s ball from halfway on his chest, before doubling his tally with a close-range header.

The striker celebrated in front of an empty away end, but you could almost hear the cheers from Oxfordshire as the season belatedly got their season up and running.

Accrington (3-5-2): Savin, Hughes, Burgess, Sykes, Allan (Bishop HT), Sama (Conneely HT), Butcher, Rodgers, Pritchard (Scully 90), Cassidy, Charles.

Unused subs: Isherwood, Maguire, Barclay, Fenlon.

Booked: Rodgers, Hughes, Pritchard.

Sent off: Charles.

Oxford Utd (4-3-3): Eastwood, Clare, Moore, Atkinson, Long, Kelly, Henry, Forde, Hall (Brannagan 59), Taylor (Osei 88), Agyei (Cooper 72).

Unused subs: Stevens, Lofthouse, Elechi, McGuane.

Booked: None.

Referee: Ross Joyce (Cleveland).