Wycombe Wanderers 0 Oxford United 1
Oxford United left it late but the noisy neighbours were not to be silenced as Nicky Wroe's fine strike gave them a 1-0 win against ten man Wycombe Wanderers this afternoon. Wroe's 87th minute shot from the edge of the box won it and broke Wycombe's hearts after a brave rearguard action after Steven Craig's early red card.
United made one change to the side that last played in the league with James Constable replacing Deane Smalley up front in a 4-3-3 shape. Constable had the first shot of the game with a rising effort from 25 yards but after an even first 19 minutes the game’s course changed as Steven Craig led with an arm and felled Jonny Mullins. Ref Brandan Malone had no hesitation in showing a red card to the Wycombe striker to leave United against ten men for 70 minutes of the game.
The home side dropped into two banks of four with just the hard working Matt McClure up front and although they looked dangerous at set pieces and on the break it became a question of whether United could break those two lines down. They moved the ball around neatly, moving side to side and tiring the Wanderers, but other than a James Constable cross which flashed across goal on 36 minutes they didn’t make home keeper Matt Ingram work enough in the first half. The closest they came was on 47 when Constable tried to guide a Hunt cross inside the near post and forced Ingram into a good save at the base of the post.
With just one striker to contain the United back line was overmanned and so the faultless Raynes was replaced by Deane Smalley for the second half to allow The U’s to switch to 4-4-2. With extra tempo and Wycombe dropping deeper by the minute it allowed extra pressure as well as seeing the ball worked out wide to wingers Williams and Rigg to stretch the game.
It was still pretty congested in the middle though and the one time United got a sight of Ingram’s goal on 66 Constable again planted the ball into the superb 1,851 Oxford fans behind that goal. Williams did similarly two minutes later.
Having ridden their luck Wanderers could have gained an unlikely lead on 69 as centre-half Doherty somehow drifted in behind the defence but Clarke was alert and smartly off his line to save with his feet. However Doherty was far busier at the other end as he and his teammates threw themselves bravely into block after block. Leon Johnson somehow blocked Newey's far post header on 76, Smalley's shot was smothered a minute later and the home side will look back on a day of heroic defending.
The Yellows kept plugging away and battering at the door though and that patience paid off with three minutes left. Constable guided the ball into his path and the on-loan Preston midfielder smashed a fierce shot across Ingram and into the far corner to win the game.
Great goal, great celebrations and United remain unbeaten away from home this season. Upwards and onwards...
Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Darrell Fisher Stats by OPTA
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