United's 100 per cent record may have ended but they remain unbeaten after a dramatic 2-2 draw with Wycombe this afternoon. Two goals from former U's striker Dean Morgan gave ten-man Wycombe a 2-1 lead at the Kassam Stadium after 95 minutes before Johnny Mullins crashed home an equaliser to follow up Danny Rose's second goal of the season for The Yellows.
Last week’s scoring subs James Constable and Asa Hall both retained their places as Sean Rigg and Deane Smalley dropped out – Rigg with a more serious hamstring tear while Smalley after a tightness in training.
After a tight opening quarter of an hour in which Wycombe forced a couple of half chances and the first two corners of the game, United started to find a little cohesion and start to play some nice football in front of a towering Chairboys back line of six-footers. The jinking Potter and the hard-working Danny Rose started to drive the U’s forward but neither keeper was forced into a save in the first half hour as the game remained stubbornly locked in a stalemate.
Visiting keeper Matt Ingram did have one routine save to make as Constable tried his luck from the edge of the box but on 42 Wycombe took the lead with a clever goal to make it 1-0. On-loan Billy Knott flicked on a header inside the box and former United forward Dean Morgan ghosted in behind a static back line to flick his header past Clarke from seven yards out. It was a clever finish and gave the Chairboys the lead at the break.
It might have been 2-0 had Clarke not made ground to palm an Arnold effort away from under his crossbar on 44 minutes, but from kick-off in the second half it was a different Oxford United and a very different game. On came Dave Kitson, with Potter moving to the right wing. On 48 minutes that move proved crucial as Potter took on left back Charles Dunne. The defender got his body across his man and in the eyes of ref Andy D’Urso used his elbow to fell Potter. It meant a straight red card and a full second half to attack ten men.
It took ten seconds to make the advantage count. From the free kick Rose launched the ball towards the far post. United’s front line ran across the ball and Ingram was left flat-footed as the ball flew unassisted into the net. Two goals in two home games for Rose, both from dead balls.
The U’s now roared forward. Kitson nodded a header across goal and inches wide of the right hand post and we looked set for a storming second half. What nobody had foreseen was the ten men regaining the lead. It came on 57 as Morgan rolled past David Hunt who pulled him back. Mr D’Urso gave the penalty and Morgan fired it inside the left-hand post to give Clarke no chance from the spot.
Now looking to take time out of the game and frustrate United, Wycombe did so expertly but the 7 minutes of added-on time proved their undoing.United took a while to build up the head of steam that they needed. Potter planted a left footed shot over on 66 minutes, Mullins burst forward for a 71st minute shot which Ingram saved well to his left and the keeper then made his best save of the game as Kitson looked to curl a shot across him and into the top corner on 82. The Chairboys started to drop deeper and United threw men forward but the ball just didn't drop to the right person in the vital area.
Then on 95 Kitson flicked on and Cosntable shielded the ball to tee up Mullins. His strike was low and true and United had salvaged a point.
In truth they deserved it for the refusal to accept defeat. Wycombe will feel hard-done by but United are resilient and confident and that last equaliser could prove huge come the end of the season.
More drama next Saturday: see you at the Kassam Stadium for Rochdale.
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Report by Chris Williams, Pictures by Steve Daniels
Stats by OPTA
See highlights and reaction in Yellow Player