REPORT: Oxford Utd v Wanderers

Another dramatic late goal kept Wanderers flying high as Amadou Bakayoko fired the Whites to a sixth win in seven games and ever nearer the play-off picture.

Ian Evatt’s men remain eight points away from the top six and with plenty more to do.

But there’s no stopping them at the moment and Bayako’s third goal in four games was a real statement of intent as Wanderers became just the second team to win at Oxford in League One since mid-October.

The promotion-chasing Yellows twice led in a thrilling first half thanks to a superb Billy Bodin double.

But each time they were pegged back with top-quality goals from wingbacks Declan John and Marlon Fossey, who celebrated the first goal of his senior in breath-taking gymnastic style.

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And with the stage set for a late winner from someone, it was Bakayoko who again stepped forward to mimic Will Aimson’s mid-week clincher and his own last-gasp equaliser at Morecambe as the striker converted a gem of a Fossey cross to keep the Whites’ season very much alive.

With Wanderers heading only to the half-way point of their busy February schedule, Evatt had promised changes which materialised in returns for Kieran Lee, George Johnston and Amadou Bakayoko.

Lee’s afternoon unfortunately lasted only 20 minutes before injury forced him to make way for Kyle Dempsey.

And by then, both teams had scored in a pulsating start.

Top scorer Matty Taylor had already missed an excellent chance for Oxford – dragging a shot just wide – before the U’s did go ahead in the ninth minute.

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Bodin boasts a sweet left foot and he showed it for the first time with a superb free-kick curled beyond James Trafford and into the top corner.

But Wanderers’ response couldn’t have been more emphatic as they were level within 60 seconds.

Aaron Morley, who seems to get more influential by the week, played the perfect pass out wide to John, who accepted the invitation to cut in and steer a sweet strike across goalkeeper Jack Stevens and into the far corner.

The momentum stayed with Wanderers with Dion Charles teeing up Bakayo for a chance he fired against the legs of Stevens.

And there was never likely to be the last of the chances in a wide-open contest which lived fully up to its pre-match billing.

Only league leaders Rotherham had scored more home goals than Oxford before kick-off and the Yellows restored their lead with just over half-an-hour gone with another classy strike from Bodin, who twisted and turned before picking out the bottom corner.

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Wanderers continued to give as good as they were getting, though, and another top-quality goal had them deservedly level again within three minutes.

Once more, Morley delivered a telling ball into the box and when it was headed clear only as far as Fossey, the on-loan Fulham man took a touch before coolly guiding a perfect left-footed effort into the top corner.

A fine save from Trafford to deny Gavin Whyte at the other end then kept it all-square at the end of a breathless first half.

And it didn’t take long for the chances to come again following the re-start, with a ball over the top from Johnston releasing Charles to cut back inside for a shot held by U’s keeper Stevens.

Oxford remained a threat themselves with Taylor pulling another effort just wide as the hosts’ movement demanded maximum concentration from the Whites’ back line.

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But perhaps inevitably the pace and panache of the first half couldn’t be repeated as it became a more cagey contest with neither side wishing to give an inch.

The tension was certainly cranked up as the game approached its closing stages with Wanderers sparking a couple of anxious moments at the back.

This team is on a roll, though, and with three minutes of normal time to go Wanderers grabbed a dramatic winner.

Late goals are becoming a speciality and for the second Saturday in a row Bakayoko provided one.

A superb move triggered by Gethin Jones’ fine pass to Fossey saw the wing-man power forward and deliver a perfect cross for Bakayoko to meet inside the six-yard box with a controlled volley which had the travelling Wanderers’ fans in dreamland.

Wanderers: Trafford; Jones, Santos, Johnston; Fossey, Williams, Morley (Afolayan 67, John; Lee (Dempsey 20); Bakayoko, Charles (Bodvarsson 78). Substitutes: Baptiste, Aimson, Amaechi, Sadlier.

Booked: Afolayan

Oxford United: Stevens; Long, Moore, McNally, Seddon (Baldock 87); Kane; Bodin (McGuane 65), Brannagan; Whyte (Williams 75), Taylor, Sykes. Substitutes: Eastwood, Brown, Winnall, Forde.

Booked: Moore, Kane, Seddon

Referee: Gavin Ward

Attendance: 10,027 (1,750 Wanderers)

Read Time: 4 mins