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Match Report


Posted Sat 09 Apr 11 at 14:31 PM


Wycombe recovered from a two-goal deficit to snatch an important point in a frantic derby day battle with Oxford United.

The game seemed dead and buried when Alfie Potter finished exquisitely before the break and Dave Winfield turned Potter's cross into his own net just eight minutes into the second period.

But a tactical reshuffle worked wonders for the Blues and top scorer Scott Rendell reduced the arrears when he headed home Andy Sandell's inch-perfect cross.

Jon-Paul Pittman then fired home from close-range after chesting down Kevin Betsy's delivery from the right to earn what could prove to be a valuable point for the Blues.

Gary Waddock made two changes to his side for the derby day showdown, with Stuart Lewis and Andy Sandell replacing Scott Donnelly and the injured Gareth Ainsworth.

Ainsworth suffered a hamstring strain in Tuesday's draw with Hereford United and wasn't available for the game, providing the opportunity for Sandell to make his first start since recovering from a knee injury which he sustained in January.

And the former Aldershot man made an immediate impression, his teasing cross from the left punched away by Ryan Clarke in front of the lurking Scott Rendell, while, at the other end, Nikki Bull had to be at his best to deny James Constable from just inside the Wycombe box.

Oxford's skipper then headed over Bull's bar from 12 yards as the hosts began to take a stranglehold of proceedings after a strong start from Gary Waddock's men.

Bull was called into action for the second time shortly afterwards, diving to his left to push away Steve MacLean's stinging drive.

A foul on Stuart Beavon then presented Wanderers with an opportunity to take the lead against the run of play, but set-piece specialist Sandell curled a 25-yard free-kick over the top.

The home fans were up in arms moments later when referee Darren Deadman waved away Oxford's protests after Constable had gone down with Dave Winfield in close proximity.

But they were celebrating on 34 minutes when Alfie Potter latched onto Simon Heslop's incisive pass before firing an unstoppable effort past Bull from 18 yards to give Oxford a deserved lead.

And only a superb save from Bull denied the hosts extending their advantage. After racing from his line, Wycombe's no. 1 threw himself at the feet of Ryan Burge after the midfielder had been picked out on the left-hand edge of the 18-yard box.

Waddock was forced into a change when Jon-Paul Pittman replaced the injured Stuart Beavon and the substitute nearly made an instant impact, hitting the crossbar with a delicate chip after being fed by Sandell.

Pittman was involved again just before the break when he turned his man superbly and played it in Kevin Betsy, who was twice denied by Ryan Clarke in quick succession before JP's cross was cleared away from Jake Wright under pressure from Scott Rendell.

It was a bright end to a largely disappointing half for the Blues, but the task of battling back into the game got harder when Dave Winfield diverted Alfie Potter's cross into his own net just eight minutes after the restart. The defender needed to slide in to prevent the ball reaching James Constable but couldn't send it to safety and the lead was doubled.

Gary Waddock reacted by bringing on Scott Donnelly for Marvin McCoy and the tactical reshuffle seemed to work in Wycombe's favour as they improved and enjoyed more possession inside the Us' half.

That territorial advantage worked wonders for the Blues as they turned the game around within four minutes. They halved the deficit courtesy of a smart header from Scott Rendell after the striker peeled off the defender to convert Andy Sandell's cross, and United were clearly rattled.

Within moments, Kevin Betsy's initial cross wasn't properly dealt with and when his second delivery came in, Jon-Paul Pittman showed excellent composure to chest the ball down and volley past the keeper superbly.

There was a brief rally from Oxford as they looked to bounce back from their shock but the pendulum had swung in the Wanderers' favour and they created further openings through Lewis Montrose and Dave Winfield.

But then came the save of the game from Nikki Bull as he flung out a strong hand to deny substitute Tom Craddock's powerful drive from 18 yards after smart link-up play on the edge of the box.

It was the last chance of a frantic half as both sides seemed unsure of whether a point would be adequate in their respective bids for promotion, but the Blues will be relieved to have salvaged something from the game after the disastrous opening.

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