Writer: Adam Clift
Date:Saturday August 24 2013
Oxford United 2 Wycombe Wanderers 2
Vital would like to thank guest writer Adam Clift for the following report.
For the second time this season Wanderers' fans were left heartbroken by a late opposition goal as Johnny Mullins denied 10 man Wycombe all three points in the 7th minute of stoppage time.
Gareth Ainsworth chopped and changed his side again as Leon Johnson, Sam Wood, Dean Morgan and Steven Craig came in, alongside outstanding debutant Billy Knott.
It was Oxford who started the game in better fashion and former Chairboy Scott Davies forced a save from Matt Ingram. But despite some good possession, the hosts were struggling to create any chances with skipper Gary Doherty and Leon Johnson keeping James Constable quiet.
It didn't take long for Wycombe to find their feet though, and Knott was instrumental in this, demanding the ball at every opportunity and continually chasing it down and not allowing the Oxford midfield any time in possession.
Knott's commitment was epitomised on the half-hour when he chased down Oxford keeper Ryan Clarke's clearance to a roar of encouragement from the vocal away following.
Wanderers had worked their way into this game and got their reward five minutes before half-time. Gary Doherty launched the ball forward and Knott flicked it on for Dean Morgan to head the ball home from six yards as the away end went wild.
The lead was almost doubled before half-time as Nick Arnold caught Clark off his line and his lobbed attempt was eventually parried away. This was the last action of note in a first half which left the 988 travelling fans very happy at the break.
In a bid to get back into the game, Oxford brought on former Premier League striker Dave Kitson. And the game was turned on it's head five minutes into the second period as Andy D'urso decided to brandish a red card to Charles Dunne. It appeared Dunne may have swung an elbow in the direction of Alfie Potter and Wycombe were reduced to ten men.
To add insult to injury, from the resulting free-kick, Danny Rose's delivery evaded everyone and ended up in the back of the net to level up the game at 1-1.
Dunne's dismissal led to Sam Wood dropping to left back and Dean Morgan to the wing.
Oxford's tails were up and Kitson came close to giving them the lead, but after 59 minutes Dean Morgan tricked his way into the U's box before skipping past David Hunt and being brought down with D'urso pointing to the spot. Morgan brushed himself off and stepped up to send Wycombe back into the lead.
Ainsworth then introduced Jon-Paul Pittman in place of Steven Craig in order to try and kill the game off with some pace on the break. Unfortunately Pittman didn't show up. And his continued failure to chase the ball down and pressurise the Oxford centre-halves was adding workload to the Blues defence.
Jo Kuffour also entered the fray, replacing two goal hero Morgan who left the field to a standing ovation from the travelling fans.
Oxford were trying to get themselves level again, but the blues were staying strong with Knott, Johnson and Doherty in particular not allowing the hosts a chance to maintain their unbeaten record.
With five minutes remaining, a poor clearance from Marvin McCoy fell for Kitson and his attempt was expertly turned round the post by Ingram, the youngster again showing his undoubted potential.
The outstanding Knott was replaced to a rousing reception when he came down with cramp after 89 minutes with Matt Spring coming on in his place.
But after the heartbreak of Leicester earlier this month, it was Oxford's turn to inflict some late pain. When Pittman yet again failed to chase the ball down, it was launched long, and after what looked like a clear push on Wood, it was nodded down to Mullins who lashed home to share the points.
Despite the disappointment at the end, there were plenty of positives for Wycombe to take. After the very poor performances of the last two weeks, the Morecambe/Leicester version of the Chairboys was back, and with Knott in the ranks for the forthcoming month, hopefully this type of committed display will happen again week-in week-out.
Ingram 8, McCoy 7, Doherty 8, Johnson 9, Dunne 6, Arnold 6, Scowen 7, Knott 9* (Spring (89) n/a), Wood 7, Morgan 7 (Kuffour (76) 7), Craig 7 (Pittman (69) 4)
Date:Saturday August 24 2013
Preview: Wycombe Wanderers v Scunthorpe United (Thursday December 12 2013)
The Opposition View - Preston (Saturday December 7 2013)
Blues slip quietly out of the cup (Saturday December 7 2013)
Stats: Wycombe Wanderers v Preston North End (Saturday December 7 2013)
FA Cup Preview: Wycombe v Preston (Friday December 6 2013)
The Opposition View - Portsmouth (Thursday December 5 2013)
For Whom The Bell Tolls (Thursday December 5 2013)
Stats: Portsmouth v Wycombe Wanderers (Thursday December 5 2013)
Preview: Portsmouth v Wycombe Wanderers (Tuesday December 3 2013)
The Opposition View - Dagenham (Sunday December 1 2013)
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