All started well for Latics as Cameron Burgess notched his first goal for the club and first in professional football on 10 minutes to give Latics the half time lead.
The U’s equalised 10 minutes into the second half through a wonder strike from Rob Hall before tempers started to flar.
Ousmane Fane was sent off for two bookable offences, whilst Oxford United manager Michael Appleton was sent to the stands.
Athletic defended resolutely in the final half an hour and did well to hold on to a valuable point.
Stephen Robinson made five changes from Monday’s game with Ryan Flynn returning from injury and Billy Mckay leading the line for Athletic.
It would be Flynn who made an instant impact in the first 10 seconds of the game, confidently driving at the Oxford defence, winning a corner.
Ollie Banks took the set piece and found Ryan McLaughlin but his header went over the crossbar.
Oxford United responded and almost took the lead on four minutes as Chris Maguire’s strong run and shot had to be tipped wide by Connor Ripley.
Athletic were knocking the ball around with confidence and won a free kick on 10 minutes after Banks was fouled.
The midfielder picked himself up, took the free kick and delivered a teasing ball into the box which caused the Oxford United defence into all sorts of problems.
The ball popped out and fell straight into the path of Burgess who converted into an empty net to give Robinson’s men the goal they deserved.
However, the U’s almost equalised straight away as Marvin Johnson’s cross found the onrushing Kane Hemmings but his outstretched foot lifted the ball over the crossbar.
Ousmane Fane found himself in the referee’s notebook on 17 minutes for a late challenge on Johnson, whilst two minutes later, McLaughlin was denied a penalty after falling in the area under an aerial challenge.
Athletic were defending well and were winning the aerial battle in the opening 45 minutes of the game.
The home side were restricted to shots outside the box as Maguire and John Lundstram both saw long range efforts go over Ripley’s crossbar.
Oxford defender Johnson was fortunate only to come away with a yellow card after a late challenge on McLaughlin from behind whilst two minutes later, Athletic were almost two goals ahead.
Charles Dunne’s cross was dummied by Flynn into the path of Banks. The midfielder set himself, crossed but the ball just flashed in front of Mckay before he could get his boot to the ball.
Oxford won a free kick just before the half time break but Maguire’s effort from 25 yards was well saved by Ripley.
Athletic were dealt a blow at the start of the second half as Mckay was forced to go off with a head injury.
The striker went down under a challenge, had blood pouring from his head, an incident in which did not warrant a foul from the referee.
Lee Erwin was introduced in place of the forward on 52 minutes, however the home side were level two minutes later through a wonder strike from Hall.
The winger received the ball from a throw in and hit his shot from 25 yards into the top corner, giving Ripley no chance.
Athletic were on the rocks as Ripley was tested again minutes later from Ryan Ledson but he made a smart save.
Just before the hour mark, Latics were reduced to 10 men after Fane received his second booking of the game for a late challenge on Johnson.
Oxford striker Kane Hemmings almost gave the home side the lead but volleyed wide a minute later whilst Latics had a chance themselves minutes later.
A superb flowing move which involved around 10 passes saw the ball fall to Dunne on the left and his cross was put behind for a corner.
From the resulting set piece, Peter Clarke almost created room for himself but he was crowded out in the box.
Tempers were starting to fray as Ollie Banks went into the book for a late challenge on Hall, he retaliated and went into the book himself.
Manager Robinson earned a stern word from the referee after voicing his displeasure at the incident.
On the pitch, Ryan Ledson, Johnson and Maguire all went close as Ripley was found to be in top form again.
On 80 minutes, Oxford United boss Michael Appleton was sent to the stands as it heated up on both benches.
Latics were defending resolutely and soaking up a lot of pressure going into the final 10 minutes of the game.
In the final minute of the game, Ripley again pulled off a wonder save to deny Johnson as the fourth official indicated seven minutes of additional time.
The home side felt they should have been awarded a penalty in the third minute of additional time but Athletic held on to a vital point.
Oxford United: Eastwood, Lundstram, Nelson, Maguire, MacDonald (Ruffels 69’), Hemmings (Taylor 90+2’), Edwards, Hall (Roberts 83’), Ledson, Johnson, Dunkley.
Subs not used: Buchel, Martin, Rothwell, Raglan.
Oldham Athletic: Ripley, Law, Burgess, Clarke, Dunne, Banks, Fane, Green, McLaughlin (Wilson 85’), Flynn (Croft 68’), Mckay (Erwin 52’).
Subs not used: Kettings, King, Dummigan, Osei.
Goals: Oxford United (Hall 54’) 1-1 Oldham Athletic (Burgess 10’)
Attendance: 7,430 (449 visiting supporters)