Send your news, photos and videos by texting bucksfreepress to 80360 or email
Derby day despair for Blues
Wycombe Wanderers 1, Oxford United 3.
WANDERERS were undone by a clinical Oxford side as derby day ended in a frustrating defeat.
The U’s, who came into the game on the back of a nightmare six match losing streak on their travels, made the most of the limited opportunities created by either side.
James Constable got things off and running early on with a crisp finish before in-form strike partner Tom Craddock doubled their advantage seconds into the second half.
A Joel Grant penalty gave Blues fans belief they could pull off a dramatic comeback, but Oxford seized on a Nikki Bull error to seal the points.
The derby started in the worst possible fashion for Blues as they fell behind inside four minutes. Adam Chapman had already fired a warning shot when he curled off target from a free-kick when Craddock collected a lofted through ball and laid it perfectly into the path of his strike partner Constable, who rifled home from 12 yards.
That silenced the home fans and the atmosphere from both sets of supporters was largely flat throughout an uninspiring first half.
Neither side were able to create much as fouls and misplaced passes were the order of the day from both teams.
Jo Kuffour, brought back into the starting line up after serving a suspension, was the first player to go into referee Neil Swarbrick’s notebook after leaving the boot in on Andy Whing after the full-back had cleared the ball – a similar challenge to the one that brought him his second yellow card at Port Vale last week.
Tony Capaldi was also booked for a crude late tackle on Gareth Ainsworth as the game struggled to find any real pattern.
Oxford thought they had doubled their advantage as Constable latched onto a through ball before slotting past Bull, but the linesman’s flag had been aloft for a long time prior to that.
As if things weren’t bad enough for Wanderers, Kuffour’s afternoon was brought to an early conclusion as he joined fellow forwards Matt McClure, Dean Morgan and Bruno Andrade on the treatment table when he limped off, to be replaced by Richard Logan.
Wanderers at least managed to fire a couple of shots in anger at goal, although Sam Wood’s effort from distance was straight down visiting goalkeeper Ryan Clarke’s throat and Logan’s shot from the edge of the box lacked the power and direction.
Out of nowhere they missed a golden opportunity to restore parity in first half injury time as Clarke nervously patted out Charles Dunne’s fizzing shot from distance, but the keeper redeemed himself with an excellent reflex stop from Joel Grant’s effort on the rebound.
If Blues fans thought that was the signal for a second half improvement they were mistaken as the U’s increased their lead just 54 seconds after the restart. A hopeful ball out from the back sent Craddock clear of the Wanderers defence, and the man who scored four against Accrington last week thumped a superb volley into the roof of the net.
Drama followed as Wycombe went straight back on the attack, with Dave Winfield being barged to the ground as he challenged for the ball and a penalty being awarded. Grant, who netted from the spot last week, repeated the trick as he calmly sent the ball into the opposite corner Clarke was diving towards.
For a while that sparked the home fans into life as their side peppered the Oxford box with crosses without causing too many problems.
There was a sense Wanderers were starting to find their feet before disaster struck on the hour. Bull, worried he was about to go over the byline and give away a corner trying to claim a cross, dropped the ball straight at Constable’s feet. The striker crossed into the six yard box, where John Mullins dived to head home a third Oxford goal.
Man of the match Grant, who showed glimpses of class at times, almost brought Wanderers back into the game when his low shot skidded across the face of goal and wide of the target after a good passage of play had carved Oxford open.
In truth it was the first time Wycombe had fashioned a chance through their usual passing game and it was the visitors who looked the more likely to go on and score next as Bull redeemed himself for his earlier error with a great save to foil Craddock.
The closest Blues came to pulling another one back and setting up a grandstand finish was when substitute Matt Spring fired inches wide as the game entered stoppage time.
Wanderers: Bull, Stewart, Doherty, Winfield, Dunne, Ainsworth (sub Morias), Lewis, Scowen, Wood (sub Spring), Grant, Kuffour (sub Logan). Substitutes not used: Harrison, Angol, Taylor, Hause.
Comments are closed on this article.