The Chairgirls first team got a point on the board as they took on Oxford City FC at the Buckinghamshire College Group.
Wycombe were looking for their first points and their first goals of their league campaign in this fixture against Oxford City who had got off to a similarly poor start to their season. This game did not disappoint and provided an excellent spectacle for those neutrals in the crowd.
In each of their two opening games this season, Wycombe have conceded early on through individual errors and this did not change when, on 6 minutes, the usually dependable Charlotte Parrett, gave the ball away with a miss-directed pass for an Oxford striker to latch onto and strike smartly past Whale in the Wycombe goal.
The response of Parrett and her team mates was positive with an attack straight from the re-start that saw Kara Howes get on the end of some excellent build up play but saw her shot go narrowly wide of the target. Newcomer, Felicity West, was gaining a foothold in the game from her attacking midfield role and, along with the lively Inniss and Howes began to take a grip of the game. The next significant chance for Wycombe came on 15 minutes when an astute pass from defender Emma Newberry picked out the run of Inniss who finished neatly to open her and the Chairgirls goal scoring account for the season.
Oxford responded to this set back positively with the lively and skillful Ellie White pulling the strings and creating opportunities for her team mates. Oxford came close to extending their lead when a through ball split the Wycombe defence resulting in Whale coming off her line quickly to save at the feet of an on rushing Oxford striker. On 25 minutes, Wycombe made a double substitution, introducing Sarah Harrison and the experienced Sam Jackson to the fray with youngsters Fryer and Nazif making way. Wycombe pressed forward with more urgency as West and Harrison settled into an early understanding with some clever inter-play and finding their forward runners with increasing regularity. One of these attacks resulted in a corner from which Wycombe attacked the ball aggressively but to the relief of the Oxford supporters, saw the ball hacked away to safety.
On 40 minutes the Chairgirls added to their tally when an astute pass from West picked out the marauding run of defender Emma Kern who finished as calmly as any seasoned striker could. 2-1 leading into half-time was looking good for manager Dave Ward but, as in previous weeks, another defensive error saw the Wycombe back line very flat and square and a simple long ball from the back picked out the pacy run of the Oxford striker who finished well to bring the scores level. The spectators enjoyment wasn’t to stop there as uncertainty in the Wycombe back line allowed another pass in behind for the visitors to take the lead again, right on the stroke of half-time which no doubt caused Ward and his coaching team to have to rapidly re-think their half time deliberations with the team.
Half time: Wycombe Wanderers Women Firsts 2-3 Oxford City Women
Wycombe started the second half with real intent with the energetic and determined Kara Howes seeing her goal bound shot blocked by a lunging Oxford defender. The resulting corner saw another scramble in the goal mouth but the Oxford defence remained defiant and once again cleared their lines. Howes again posed a threat when her header, from a Katie Hudson free kick, went close to bringing the much needed equaliser for Wycombe. The intelligent play between West, Harrison and Roberts was a feature of Wycombe’s play as the hosts pressed for an equaliser when a clever pass from West saw Howes again threaten with an excellent first time strike which was pushed to safety by French-Adam in the Oxford goal. Fryer and Nazif were reintroduced to the game with 20 minutes remaining to try to provide more energy in the heat of the afternoon with Roberts and Inniss making way. Wycombe endured a couple of scares when pressing for the equaliser, got caught on the break a couple of times but last ditch defending and the presence of Whale put sufficient pressure on the Oxford strike force to cause them to fluff their lines.
Wycombe pressure finally paid off in the 80th minute when another clever interchange between Kern and Howes saw defender Kern again break lines to get in behind the Oxford back four. Her left foot finish was unerring and flew into the net to cheer the home supporters as the two sides were now level. It wasn’t to end there though with Wycombe applying pressure to get the winning goal. A pass from Howes found Jackson in a bit of space some 30 yards out from goal. Her strike curled into the top corner to give Wycombe the lead with 2 minutes on the clock.
Oxford came back strongly as they sought to get something from the game where they had allowed the lead to slip away from them on 2 occasions. A fine pass found the impressive White who was closing in on the Wycombe 18 yard box. The danger was momentarily snuffed out with a thunderous challenge from skipper Hudson who picked up a yellow card for her trouble. From the resulting free kick, an unfortunate rebound off the Wycombe defensive wall broke kindly to an unmarked Oxford player who did not waste the opportunity to level the scores with what turned out to be the final kick of the game.
Entertaining for the neutrals, heart stopping for the managers, coaches and partisan supporters of both teams. A much needed point for Wycombe and good to see the goals coming after the frustration of the opening 2 league games. Work to be done defensively for sure but really encouraging to see Wycombe coming from behind twice and creating and taking chances with some fine finishes. There’s plenty more to come from this new squad who are just finding their feet together after having lost some of last season’s squad to retiring through injury and continued long term injuries to the likes of Club Captain, Charlotte Bagshaw, the intelligent and creative midfielder that is Jordanne Hoesli-Atkins and the influential Bobby Lynch who was injured last weekend and is likely to be out of action for a large part of the season.
Next week sees a home game in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup against London and South East Regional side, London Sport E Benfica kicking off at 2pm.
Full time: Wycombe Wanderers Women Firsts 4-4 Oxford City Women