Wycombe have their fairy-tale ending with a 2-1 victory over Oxford United at Wembley Stadium, securing their place in the Sky Bet Championship.
Wycombe opened the scoring in the sixth minute as Anthony Stewart headed home a Joe Jacobson corner. Mark Sykes levelled the tie just after half time with a cross-turned-shot over Allsop in the net. Joe Jacobson smashed home a penalty kick to give Wycombe the 2-1 win with only 10 minutes left on the clock.
The League One Play Off Final is one of the most coveted events in the sporting calendar in the football league, with a place in the Sky Bet Championship being the prize. Neither Oxford United nor Wycombe Wanderers were expected to be tussling for the honour of promotion, but that’s how this game came together.
Oxford brought Matty Taylor back into the Starting XI for the final, replacing veteran Jamie Mackie, whilst Wycombe kept the same side that saw them through the play-off semi-finals. Both Karl Robinson and Gareth Ainsworth would have been relishing the chance to manage in the Championship at the beginning of the season, and it came down to one final game to be the decider between the two.
It would be the ‘token’ away side Wycombe Wanderers kicking off the game, with the ‘home’ side taking the early initiative with some comfortable passing in the Wycombe half.
It was Oxford who had the first chance of the game, but Marcus Browne’s audacious attempt after six minutes from 30 yards sailed over the bar and away from the Wycombe goal.
Wycombe’s first venture into the opposition half resulted in the first corner of the match, with Joe Jacobson standing over the ball. Oxford had one of the worst records in the league when it came to defending set pieces, and it was made even worse tonight. Jacobson’s whipped ball to the back post was headed home by Anthony Stewart at the back post to give Wycombe the early lead.
18 minutes in, it should have been levelled. Oxford pounced down the right-hand side, and it was Mark Sykes who laid the ball off to the onrushing Sam Long, but he went for power rather than placement and smashed the ball past the top left corner from 10 yards out. Should have been on target.
The first cautioning of the match took place just before half hour mark, with Alex Gorrin scything down Alex Samuel 25 yards out to pick up the first yellow card of the match.
The game was playing out exactly how everyone would have expected. Oxford were keeping the ball well for the majority of the game, with Wycombe looking to pick up the scraps and look for long ball at every opportunity.
Oxford’s best chance of the game came straight out of the Wycombe playbook. A long-punted ball from Eastwood fell to James Henry, who slid Mark Sykes in through on goal, but his cross shot was intercepted incredibly well by Anthony Stewart who stopped a certain equaliser.
Just before half time, Wycombe probably should have doubled their lead. It came from their own throw in, and with a bit of ping pong the ball landed at the feet of Fred Onyedinma in the box, but his left footed strike sailed over the bar.
Nevertheless, the half time whilstle blew and it would be Wycombe the happier of the two sides as they took a one goal lead into the break.
The second half began in the same way as the first, with Oxford dominating the play and Wycombe looking for the counter. And with that came a very good Oxford chance, as Mark Sykes broke the last line of defence and tried to slide a pass across the box for Browne at the back post, but Stewart was there again to cut it out for a corner.
10 minutes into the second half, the game was levelled in the most bizarre of circumstances. James Henry’s wide pass down the line towards Mark Sykes set him free, and as he looked for a ball to the back post, he misjudged his kick and it went soaring over Allsop and into the back of the net. A wonderful finish to level the tie as one apiece.
Oxford’s tails were up, and they nearly took the lead a few minutes later. This time it was James Henry who was free on goal, but instead of shooting he tried to square it to Matty Taylor, but his pass was intercepted once again by Stewart out for what should have been a clear and obvious corner, but the linesman didn’t give it.
The pressure kept coming, and Rob Dickie was so close to giving Oxford the lead. His towering header from a corner was saved expertly in the bottom left corner by Ryan Allsop, keeping his side level.
It looked like it was all Oxford in the game, but a long, lofted ball forward from Wycombe in the 80thminute caused havoc in the Oxford defence, with Fred Onyedinma running in off the bounce and getting taken out by Simon Eastwood in the goal, resulting in a Wycombe penalty. It would be Joe Jacobson stepping up, and he buried it down the middle to give Wycombe the lead.
The game dwindled on with Oxford pumping it forward but struggling to make anything stick up front, but they were no match for the Wycombe defenders as they secured an unlikely place in the Sky Bet Championship for the new season.
Oxford (4-3-3):Eastwood, Long (Forde 79), Moore, Dickie ©, Ruffels, Gorrin (Kelly 45), Brannagan, Browne (Woodburn 88), Sykes, Taylor, Henry (Agyei 81).
Unused Subs:Stevens, Mousinho, Mackie, Hanson, Atkinson.
Wycombe (4-2-3-1): Allsop, Grimmer, Stewart, Charles, Jacobson, Gape, Ofoborh (Thompson 61), Wheeler, Bloomfield © (Pattison 45), Onyedinma (Freeman 92), Samuel (Akinfenwa 61).
Unused Subs: Stockdale, Jombati, Kashket, Phillips, Parker.
Simon Eastwood: Looked to get the final touch on the opening goal of the game from Stewart’s header, and gave away the penalty that gifted Wycombe a second goal. 5
Sam Long: Struggled to make as much of an impact as he did in the semi-finals, with Onyedinma making some darting runs at him. 6
Rob Dickie ©: Probably Oxford’s best player on the night, won most of the battles in the air up against Samuel and Akinfenwa, and did look dangerous down the other end from set pieces. 7
Elliott Moore: Should have done much better with the long ball for the penalty, instead he ducked and forced Eastwood into a rash challenge. 6
Josh Ruffels: Struggled down the left as David Wheeler followed him all game. Didn’t look to be much of an attacking threat. 6
Alex Gorrin: Picked up the only booking of the first half so it seemed to be a tactical change from Robinson at half time. 6
Cameron Brannagan: Struggled to make the game tick from midfield, overshadowed by the midfield tenacity of Gape and Ofoborh. 6
Marcus Browne: Was stuck in the pocket of Jack Grimmer for 88 minutes, should have been the brightest player on the pitch but his dribbling was well below par. 6
Mark Sykes: Scored a lovely goal lofted over the top of Allsop, and made a few good runs in behind but his final ball was not up to a key standard. 6
Matty Taylor: Was outmatched by Stewart and Charles all game long, had only one chance to score but he couldn’t generate enough power. 5
James Henry: Couple of dangerous deliveries from the winger that didn’t cause much trouble in the Wycombe defence. Should have done better with his 1-on-1 attempt however. 6
Liam Kelly: Looked composed on the ball just in front of the Oxford defence, putting together a few nice passes to create attacks. 6
Anthony Forde: Not enough time to be judged.
Dan Agyei: Not enough time to be judged.
Ben Woodburn: Not enough time to be judged.
Ryan Allsop: Maybe should have done better with the Sykes goal, but made some very important saves in the second half from Rob Dickie. 6
Jack Grimmer: Handled Browne with ease all game long, 7
Anthony Stewart: My MOTM. Had an absolutely incredible game in the centre of defence in this game. Scored the opening goal, but was also on hand to thwart so many chances from Oxford throughout the 90 minutes. 9
Darius Charles: Overshadowed by the excellent performance of Anthony Stewart, but made some key defensive blocks of his own in a robust Wycombe defence. 6
Joe Jacobson: Scored the winning goal from the penalty spot, and also supplied the corner for the opening goal of the match. A great performance from the full back. 7
Dominic Gape: Underrated performance from the midfielder who stopped everything that came through the middle. 6
Nnamdi Ofoborh: Confident midfield performance in the first half, never gave Brannagan and Henry any space in the middle of the pitch. 6
David Wheeler: Didn’t let Ruffels have any time on the left-hand side, and put himself about well on the wing. 6
Matt Bloomfield ©: Composed performance from the captain who was nursing a small injury going into the match. Kept pushing the Oxford defenders back when in possession. 6
Fred Onyedinma: Won the penalty that gave Wycombe the win, and forced so many of the attacks that came their way in the game. 6
Alex Samuel: Hustled the defence very well in the first half, causing a few fouls from the backline, but never looked like scoring. 7
Alex Pattison: Ran and ran just behind the striker all of the second half, but didn’t have the ball as much as he would have liked. 6
Adebayo Akinfenwa: Led the line well in the final 30 minutes of the match, put himself about the only way he knows how. 6
Curtis Thompson: Struggled for possession and picked up another yellow card in the play offs. 5
Nick Freeman: Not enough time to be judged.