OXFORD United got their season up and running at the first attempt with a hard-fought draw at Sunderland.

There were plenty of similarities with last season’s clash at the Stadium of Light, with the visitors’ early lead pegged back at the start of the second half.

Tariqe Fosu got the U’s goal, coolly finishing from Woodburn’s pass as two of the new faces got off to a flying start in yellow.

But in an open game one goal was never going to be enough and four minutes after half-time Lynden Gooch won and converted a penalty.

There were plenty of nervous moments in the remaining 40 minutes, but United dug in superbly to make sure they left with a point.

Fosu was one of four summer signings making their debut for the visitors. Chris Cadden, Alex Gorrin and Woodburn also started, but Elliott Moore was only on the bench as Robinson kept faith with John Mousinho alongside Dickie.

The Stadium of Light crowd was expectant, but United were quick to signal their intent.

A sharp one-two on the edge of the box saw Cameron Brannagan free Fosu, but ten yards out he turned down a shot and his cross fizzed through the six-yard box just out of Jamie Mackie’s reach.

Within 60 seconds it was Sunderland’s turn to have heads in their hands as Simon Eastwood got just enough on Marc McNulty’s 20-yard rocket to turn it round the post.

Both sides looked in a hurry – and just like last season’s meeting on Wearside, United struck early.

A mistake 40 yards out from Conor McLaughlin was pounced on by Woodburn, who instantly freed Fosu. The summer signing steadied himself under pressure before beating Jon McLaughlin.

In the upper tier, the travelling supporters went barmy.

United showed no intention of shutting up shop and sitting on their lead, as the contest remained wide open.

That meant there were chances on the break, but also saw Sunderland get into dangerous positions with relative ease.

Midway through the half the visitors were caught wide open by one pass, but Eastwood stuck out his left leg to clear the cross.

It became an increasingly common theme of the half, as the Black Cats found space out wide only to waste the opportunity.

That was a source of frustration for the home fans, who were also irked by the referee allowing United to take their time over restarts.

They were grateful to the officials in the 28th minute, though, when Dickie headed Brannagan’s corner into the net. The celebrations were cut short, with referee Peter Wright spotting a foul by Mackie on the goalkeeper.

While both sides were living dangerously, neither goalkeeper had a save to make in the latter stages of the half.

United got to the interval with their lead intact, but it lasted just four minutes into the second half.

Gooch drove into the box and lured Ruffels into a risky challenge. Despite United’s protests, the referee pointed to the spot and Gooch sent Eastwood the wrong way from 12 yards.

The hosts had their tails up and for a while the visitors looked rattled, Mousinho and Alex Gorrin going into the referee’s notebook.

But they gradually regrouped to becoming an attacking threat again, albeit not quite as regularly as before the break.

Brannagan forced Jon McLaughlin into a save, while midway through the half Woodburn fired over from the edge of the box after Cadden’s cross was only half-cleared.

But United’s uphill battle was shown when Sunderland were able to bring on Duncan Watmore, Aiden McGeady and Chris Maguire from the bench.

Clear chances were at a premium, though, with Eastwood’s main duties dealing with crosses and corner.

That was in part down to Dickie’s storming display, but Mousinho did his part to vindicate the decision to retain their partnership.

Late on there was almost a fairytale finish as Henry’s cross fell to Rob Hall, but the substitute’s shot hit a defender and bounced to safety.

Sunderland piled on the pressure in seven minutes of stoppage time, but United held firm to claim a share of the spoils.

Sunderland (4-3-1-2): J McLaughlin, C McLaughlin, Willis, Flanagan, Hume, Gooch (Maguire 83), Dobson, McGeouch, Embleton (Watmore 59), Grigg (McGeady 71), McNulty.

Unused subs: Burge, Ozturk, O’Nien, Leadbitter.

Booked: Gooch.

Oxford Utd (4-2-3-1): Eastwood, Cadden, Dickie, Mousinho, Ruffels, Brannagan (Moore 90+4), Gorrin, Woodburn (Hanson 75), Henry, Fosu (Hall 82), Mackie.

Unused subs: Stevens, Long, Sykes, Napa.

Booked: Mousinho, Gorrin, Brannagan, Henry.

Referee: Peter Wright (Merseyside).

Attendance: 33,498 (1,122 visitors).