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Wycombe Wanderers 2
Oxford United 1
Saturday 19th December 2015
Football League Two
Wanderers secured their first home win since the end of September with a 2-1 victory over 'in-form' Oxford United at Adams Park. The visitors had come into the meeting unbeaten in their last six League games and eleven games in all competitions but they were out fought by a Wycombe side who saw Jason McCarthy grab the winner in the 76th minute after Liam Sercombe had earlier levelled Garry Thompson's opener on 50 minutes.
Victory against Oxford came after Garerth Ainsworth made one change to the side that had drawn with Notts County in the week - Thompson returning to the starting line-up in favour of Aaron Amadi-Holloway. McCarthy continued at right-back with Sido Jombati still unavailable due to 'personel reasons'. Brentford youngster Jermaine Udumaga was named on the bench again.
In front of the second highest gate of the season to date at Adams Park it was Wanderers who pressed in the opening stages - forcing a corner within the first minute and then again on 8 minutes when Joe Jacobson's delivery caused panic in the United defence. It proved a trend for the game with Wycombe also going on to create the better chances in the opening 45 minutes. Luke O'Nein saw a speculative effort clear the cross-bar from 25 yards on 17 minutes, while a minute later a bout of head-tennis in the Oxford penalty area ended with Paul Hayes' looped header being collected with ease by Benjamin Buchel in the U's goal.
The U's backed by an expectant 1,800 all-ticket following would have travelled with confidence to Adams Park. Their recent good run had seen them move to 2nd spot in the table behind Northampton Town and victory may have been enough to claim the top spot. They could also brag a recent record at Adams Park of three consecutive victories in League meetings, with Wanderers last claiming victory on home soil in an FA Cup meeting against the then Conference side in November 2006. Wanderers most recent League victory at Adams Park over United was as far back as February 2006. Those facts made this victory even more sweeter for Wycombe followers who saw United tactically out fought for the majority of the game and then fall foul to two set-piece moves for the crucial goals.
Jacobson was a constant thorn in the Oxford side. His inswinging corner on 27 minutes needed Buchel to plam the ball away on the line, while Michael Harriman also enjoyed being given space to run, going close on 38 minutes with an effort from 25 yards and then again three minutes later. At the other end Jacobson stiffled the highly rated Kemar Roofe, while striker Danny Hylton major contribution to the game was taking a first-half dive in the Wanderers box that failed to fool Premier League referee Neil Swarbrick.
The second-half had a quick tempo start too with Wanderers surviving a rare Oxford attack before forcing two corners in quick succession themselves - the second of which saw Thompson head home from around six yards when he lost his marker to power in Jacobson's outswinging delivery from the left.
United responded with an equaliser on 65 minutes when Sercombe smashed the ball into the roof of the net from the right of the box after Wanderers allowed the visitors to work the ball forward from a free-kick on the half-way line. It would have been little surprise if United had stepped up a gear and gone on an won the game but it was Wanderers who hit back again.
Matt Bloomfield fired wide of the left-hand post on 72 minutes before McCarthy's winner four minutes later. To the frustration of United it came from another set-piece and another Jacobson delivery - this time a free-kick from wide on the right that was swung in for McCarthy to rise at the near post to direct the ball into the far corner of the Valley End net.
Sam Wood went close to making it 3-1 when his shot on the turn from the left side of the box struck the left hand upright but there was a late scare for Wycombe in the five minutes of added time when Harriman had to clear a goalbound effort from Sercombe off the line.
The result will be a huge confidence booster for Wanderers who are now 9th in the table with 34 points from 21 games - two points adrift of the play-off places but still with a game in hand of most the sides above them in the table. Gareth Ainsworth's side now travel to managerless Luton Town on Boxing Day before hosting 16th placed Crawley Town on 28th December and 17th placed Morecambe on 2nd January. For United, they remain hot favourites for automatic promotion and it will be interesting to see where the respective sides sit in the table when they meet in the final game of the 2015/16 on Saturday 7th May 2016.
Full-time - Wycombe 2 Oxford United 1
Speaking after the game, Wanderers Manager Gareth Ainsworth told the press: "I thought we deserved to win today and, in the first half there was only one team in it and we did enough to take control of an even second half. For me the performance was better than the result. We had a game plan and stuck to it and that is why we have got this fantastic result." He added: "There is a fantastic mood in the dressing room. It was a good result after a good performance. I am not going to get too high because it is just three points, but I know what this means to Wycombe and the people of Wycombe, and they can go and have a drink on me tonight."
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