Oxford United's unbeaten run of 11 games was ended at Wycombe Wanderers this afternoon. Two set-piece goals from the Chairboys proved too much for the U's despite Liam Sercombe
's tenth goal of the season.
With a sold-out away end in full voice the U’s started well and were pressing the home side high up the pitch from the very start, with John Lundstram
and Sercombe doing well in the middle of the park. Danny Hylton
, back up front, with Kemar Roofe
pushed wide and Callum O’Dowda dropping to the bench, was a constant nuisance up front and the Yellows were looking very solid but they couldn't find a way of creating chances against a resilient Wycombe back line.
Wycombe saw more of the ball in the first half and on 8 minutes it needed a good save from Benji Buchel
to push away a header from Gary Thompson from a corner. A couple of long-range efforts went well wide of Buchel’s goal but set pieces already looked the best route for the Wanderers and George Baldock
needed to smuggle the ball off the line on 27 from a dangerous in-swinging corner from Joe Jacobson that was touched on at the near post.
United, looking to counter at every opportunity, couldn’t find the final pass whenever they managed to work the ball forward and were forced into a change before the break when Joe Skarz
limped off to be replaced by Jordan Evans
Whatever was said at half time seemed to stir the U’s who were much more like their old selves after the break, faster into the challenge and playing at a far higher tempo as the game opened up.
The problem was that the set pieces around their own box had been piling up and having repelled one on 49 minutes they conceded the first goal from the one that followed. Jacobson’s delivery from the left meant an out-swinger this time and Thompson thumped his header past Buchel to make it 1-0.
The response was immediate. United never panic when they go a goal down and their energy and passing were beginning to drive them forward towards their own fans. Hylton went off, Hoban came on and after 54 minutes the substitution paid off. Baldock powered forward once more down the right and sent the ball across for Hoban who gathered it in, back to goal and held off two defenders who just could not find a way to steal the ball away from the Irish striker. That allowed Sercombe to join from midfield and go to Hoban's left. When the ball was squared Sercombe slammed it into the roof of the net to make it 1-1. Cue the customary wild celebrations in the away end.
It was there for the winning but once again the dead ball was to be United's undoing. With 76 minutes gone the Chairboys won a free kick on the right. Over came Jacobson, up went the danger flags and the big men. A well-flighted free kick and defender Jason McCarthy got up highest to meet his fellow full back's kick and bury the ball beyond the helpless Buchel.
The Yellows were lucky to see a Thompson shot come back off the post but then launched an all-out onslaught on the Wycombe goal, desperate to claw something back on a ground they usually do so well on. Wycombe slowed things down as much as possible, Ryan Taylor
was thrown on for the last few minutes for a welcome return after injury, and Sercombe sent an Evans header on target only for it to be headed off the line in injury time.
There was still time for yet more drama when Sercombe then reached a flick on but couldn't keep his balance inside the box after 94 minutes, but on this particular afternoon it just wasn't to be despite an agonising five minutes of injury time.
Great commitment and effort from both sides, and drama at the close. United move on to Exeter at home on Boxing Day. See you there...
Report by Chris Williams, pictures Steve Daniels and Darrell Fisher. Stats by OPTA
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