Oxford United ended a memorable week with a win against leaders Wycombe Wanderers this afternoon at the Kassam Stadium. James Henry's first half goal earned Karl Robinson's side a 1-0 victory that sent another crowd of over 10,000 home happy.
After the heroics against Champions Manchester City in midweek, this was a game that United picked up where they left off in that game, committing men to the attack and pushing a team in sky blue back even before the red card.
Clear chances were hard to come by but United always had control of the game, particularly in midfield where Alex Gorrin (and later Mark Sykes) Shandon Baptiste and Cameron Brannagan were impressive with some neat, intricate passing to try and pick their way through a rugged Wanderers defence.
The breakthrough came after 22 minutes when initial patience finally paid off. Baptiste spread the play wonderfully well from right to left for Fosu to feed Brannagan inside the box. His shot was saved by keeper Allsop but top scorer Henry was on it in a flash. Again Allsop was equal to it but when the ball came back off the keeper once more Henry was alert and planted it into the vacant net to give the U’s the lead.
Wycombe were ruffled and were soon to play three quarters of the game with ten men as Akinfenwa saw red. There had been a few stern challenges already when Gorrin sent Scott Kashket flying in the middle of the park. A melee broke out and in the centre of it Mousinho was felled and Akinfenwa, having raised his hands, dismissed. It’s the turkeys I feel for during his Christmas suspension.
United now sought a second goal to kill the game off. Gorrin went close from 20 yards, Fosu fired over and the Chairboys were rocking without their focal point and having to weather a storm as United went at them.
Fosu forced a superb save from the overstretched Allsop on 40 minutes, made even better by the ball taking a defelection en route, and the keeper then made almost as good a save to keep Mousinho’s header out from under the bar from the resulting corner.
Ruffels rattled one final effort over in injury time but it had been an excellent 45 minutes and the tide continued to flow towards Allsop after the break, despite the visitors adjusting to their disadvantage and looking far more like the leaders. Even so, they were glad that Fosu has left his shooting boots at home with a couple of chances and then relieved when Jamie Mackie, who had given them all sorts of trouble all afternoon, was replaced to a standing ovation.
However, the game was far from over and Jordan Archer needed to make one terrific save when David Wheeler let fly after 70 minutes, with Gareth Ainsworth's side gaining ground and looking threatening, particularly with their set pieces in a much-improved second half performance.
United held firm though and sub Matty Taylor did get the ball into the net, albeit from an offside position, before Brannagan blasted a 76th-minute drive just wide of the mark. With the imperious Dickie dictating the play from the back and those further forward darting all over the pitch and looking full of energy, it was draining for the ten men and eventually United's extra man told as they saw the game out in a very professional manner.
A good win - just the second side to beat Wycombe this season and the perfect start to a busy festive period.
See you against Lincoln on Boxing Day.
Report by Chris Williams, pictures Steve Daniels and Tom Melvin. Stats by OPTA