Oxford lost at Wycombe. Yeah....
FULL TIME: Wycombe 2-1 Oxford
It's very rare that I've had to trudge home with a glum look on my face after a rubbish day at the football. I became almost overly used to it in the last two or three seasons but the tremendous start that we've made to this campaign has almost made me forget what it feels like. I remember now...it feels crap.
You could tell from the first few minutes that this was going to be a tough game for United. Wycombe were, well doing what Wycombe do and punting the ball into our box and as we all know, Oxford are hopeless at defending long balls into the box. Our midfield that earlier in the season would have been running the show and dictating the game were completely non-existent. Liam Sercombe looked like a lost boy, Danny Hylton literally didn't look like a footballer and I genuinely forgot Kemar Roofe was on the pitch for the opening half an hour. It was difficult to watch.
For some bizarre reason, it looked as if we were going to try and beat Wycombe at their own game in the first half and knock the ball long. If Michael Appleton told them to do this, that is quite possibly the worst tactical decision I have ever seen.
Danny Hylton was deep inside Pierre's back pocket. He bullied a weak and lacklustre Hylton for the entire half. I am surprised he didn't nick his dinner money as well.
Despite Wycombe's dominance and our incompetence, the Chairboys didn't manage to create many clear-cut chances in the first half. The only real effort that Buchel had to worry about came on 27 minutes. A swinging corner caused havoc in our defence and Garry Thompson was unlucky not to score with a decent header that Buchel could only parry away.
It felt like an achievement to go in at half time level considering how woeful we had been, a much better performance in the second half was required...
To be fair, we got a better performance in the second half. We actually looked like a team rather than a bunch of strangers who'd met in the car park 20 minutes before the game, which was nice. Sercombe looked more energetic, Lundstram was more pin-point with his passing and Danny Hylton actually looked like he had played football before. With the game deadlocked at 0-0, United still had a chance of winning the match....
Sadly just as we looked like were getting back into the game, disaster struck. A fantastic corner into our box from Jacobson wasn't dealt with and Thompson thumped his header into the net to make it 1-0 to Wycombe. However, a good trait from Oxford this season is not panicking when going a goal down and immediately after conceding we got back on the gas pedal in search of an equalising goal, which was good to see.
The introduction of Pat Hoban on 55 minutes certianly made an impact as United appeared to lack a physical presence up front. In fact, Hoban's physical presence was integral in United's equalising goal. A surging run and accurate cross from Baldock found it's way to the feet of Hoban, with his back to goal and two defenders swarming around him. He didn't panic, held them off and prodded the ball to the incoming Sercombe who ended his mini goal drought by firing the ball into the roof of the net. The momentum was now with United and it looked as if we could push on and win the game.
However, more atrocious defending from set pieces cost us dearly. With 76 minutes on the clock, Joe Jacobson whipped in a well-flighted free-kick which was flicked past Buchel by the unmarked McCarthy. 2-1 Wycombe. *sigh*
Oxford were now trailing again with our 11 match unbeaten run hanging by a thread, what does Appleton do? Bring on Ryan Taylor who has had one day of training in six weeks. Brilliant. Appleton has been bang on with a lot of his decisions this season but he got this one horribly wrong in my eyes. I just don't understand why he didn't bring O'Dowda on, his pace would have frightened the life out of Wycombe's lumbering defenders.
Liam Sercombe had a terrific chance in the dying embers of the game to salvage a point for Oxford. Sercombe excellently controlled a flick-on and charged into the box, unfortunately his finish didn't have enough power behind it to beat ex Oxford City keeper Matt Ingram.
This really wasn't vintage Oxford, in fact that first half performance was as bad as I've seen for an awfully long time. United have not been at their best for the last few games now which makes we worry that our typical mid-season wobble is under way.
It was a very frustrating day for Oxford but at least we've discovered a fresh incentive for promotion. Not having to go to Adams Park.
Merry Christmas everyone.