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After the pre-match hype that Wycombe were taking this competition seriously it was somewhat surprising that Lawrie Sanchez chose to make five changes from the side that drew 1-1 at Millwall the previous Saturday. Top scorer Sean Devine was left at home along with Dave Carroll, Jason Cousins, Jamie Bates and Keith Ryan. On the bench were players with less than half a dozen first team starts between them.
Oxford made three changes to the side that were edged out by Forest in the FA Cup on Saturday.
In front of a sparse crowd, Wycombe kicked down the slope in the first half and on 7 minutes a curling Simpson free-kick from the right saw McCarthy's diving header pushed away Paul Lundin in the home goal. Baird nearly caught out Lundin on 16 minutes before United got their first sight of goal when Matt Murphy saw a hopeful effort go wide of Taylor's left-hand post. United took the lead on 20 minutes when Bulman pulled back Paul Tait inside the penalty area and from the resulting spot kick, Paul Powell fired home high to Taylor's right. Powell scored two penalties in the previous round against Luton. Mo Harkin, making his first start since Oxford City in the FA Cup, was brought down as he ran at goal after 25 minutes and Simpson's 30 yard free-kick was saved low to Lundon's right. A similar run by Baird after 32 minutes was ended when Peter Fear took the Wycombe player out a yard outside the Wycombe area. With no other player to cover, the referee had the simple decision of showing the red card to the Oxford player. From the resulting free-kick, Steve Brown saw his shot blocked and although McCarthy but the ball away from close range the flag was already up. Michael Simpson was booked on 38 minutes for a foul on Les Robinson and when 'Simo' disputed the decision, the referee enforced the experimental 10 yard rule for the first and only time in the game. Taylor saved well low to his right from Cook's free-kick before Wycombe scored from their next attack. Dannie Bulman picked the ball up on the right side of midfield before threading the ball across to McSporran who was given the space to casually slot the ball past Lundin from 20 yards- right in front of the terrace where he used to stand as a youngster.
Simpson was substituted at half-time (probably before he was sent-off) as Wycombe forced two quick corners on the right but they were both wasted. Simpson's replacement, Danny Senda, made room for a shot on 54 minutes only to see a brilliant save by Lundin. This time Baird headed home the rebound but he was clearly off-side from the original shot. The strangest decision of the night came a couple of minutes later when McSporran appeared to have been fouled well inside the Oxford penalty area only for an in-direct free-kick to be given outside the area. Needless to say the kick came to nothing. Matt Lawrence enjoyed several runs down the right side and his cross on 62 minutes saw McSporran head just inches wide. The lanky Kevin Francis replaced Steve Anthrobus in the closing minutes of normal time while Matt Brady came on for a disappointing Mo Harkin. It was Brady who had Wycombe's best chance to win the game when his first time effort was pushed wide by Lundin after a ball in from the right. Shepheard headed over for Oxford as both teams gave lessons in how NOT to finish.
90 minutes 1-1
Both side had chances to win the game during extra-time - knowing that any goal scored would be the winning 'golden-goal'. Lundin spilled shots by Baird and then Brown but there were no Wycombe players there to follow up. At the other end Taylor had to be quick off his line to deny Cook and Chris Vinnicombe headed off the line after a massive goal mouth melee. With six minutes left of extra-time a Senda cross from the right was headed fractionally wide by Richard Thompson who was making his First Team debut after coming on as sub for McSporran.
120 minutes 1-1
The penalty shoot-out took place in front of the home fans and it was Oxford's Joey Beauchamp who confidently put home the first spot kick. Brown levelled the scores before Cook and then Bulman also had success. United's penalty expert Paul Powell made no mistake with his kick before Baird saw his kick saved low to Lundin's right. Matt Murphy crept the ball in to put Oxford 4-2 up but Mark Rogers kept Wycombe in it when he converted. United's final kick was left to 'keeper Paul Lundin and when he placed the ball into the corner of Taylor's net he was transformed into hero of the night.
United won 5-3 on penalties.
Wycombe Team: Taylor, Lawrence, Vinnicombe, McCarthy, Rogers, Simpson (sub 45 Senda), Brown, Harkin (sub 84 Brady), Bulman, Baird, McSporran (sub 96 Thompson) subs not used Westhead and Holsgrove Att:1,797 (390 Wycombe)
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