REPORT | Wanderers 0 Oxford United 2

Adeboyejo dejection Wembley

Wanderers’ bid to win promotion to the Championship fell at the final hurdle as they under-performed on the Wembley stage, writes Pete Oliver.

Two goals before half-time were enough to give Oxford victory in the play-off final as the Whites’ legion of travelling fans went home disappointed.

Ian Evatt’s men were way below their best as a Josh Murphy double saw the U’s move up to Championship level for the first time in 25 years.

Wanderers’ wait to get back to the second tier will have to wait a little longer as an improved showing after the break didn’t bring the goal that might have sparked a comeback.

Substitute Kyle Dempsey did his best to raise the tempo as Evatt made multiple changes from the bench to try and keep the dream alive.

But O’s keeper Jamie Cumming didn’t have a save to make as Wanderers’ goal output deserted them at a critical time to leave the Whites ruing missed opportunities throughout the season and having to re-group for another challenge in League One.


Collins dejection Wembley

Wanderers had been hit on the eve of the final by a training-ground injury to Randell Williams, which meant a change to the side that had started both legs of the semi-final win over Barnsley.

Nathanael Ogbeta came in at left wing-back and then just a minute in there was a further scare when Paris Maghoma took a blow on the touchline and required lengthy treatment after turning his ankle.

It all added up to an uncertain start for the Whites, who were pressed at every opportunity by an Oxford side revived since they were beaten 5-0 by Wanderers in March.

Josh Sheehan still produced the first serious threat on goal with a low drive which flew just wide after a quarter of an hour.

But the impetus was with Oxford, who went ahead with half an hour gone as Murphy grabbed his first of the game as he cut in and fired a shot past Nathan Baxter via a faint touch off the head of Ricardo Almeida Santos.

Wanderers needed a response but in sapping conditions they struggled to get anything going and three minutes before half-time were left with a mountain to climb when Murphy ran onto a Ruben Rodrigues through-ball to round Baxter and make it 2-0.


Collins dejection Wembley

Evatt made his first change three minutes into the second when Maghoma – who left the stadium on crutches and nursing an ankle injury from the final appearance of his loan spell from Brentford – was replaced by Dempsey.

A goalscorer on his last Wembley appearance for the Whites, the midfielder immediately injected some pace and purpose into Wanderers’ attacks as he forced a couple of quickfire corners.

In a more open contest Murphy then twice almost struck on the break to claim a hat-trick which would have finished Wanderers off, but the Whites were looking a more potent force as they moved the ball quicker and earlier.

And with 65 minutes gone Wanderers made three further changes to try and find the goal that might have given them a foothold back in the game as Camerone Jerome and Victor Adeboyejo joined the strikeforce and Josh Dacres-Cogley switched flanks.


Evatt Buckingham handshake

Still chances were hard to come by but as the clocked ticked down Dacres-Cogley picked out Jerome for a heading opportunity he nodded wide at the far post.

A goal then might have put doubts in Oxford’s minds but, ultimately, Wanderers offered too little to repair the damage of a tepid first-half performance which sowed the seeds of a defeat that will take some coming to terms with. 

Wanderers: Baxter; Jones, Almeida Santos, Toal; Sheehan (Iredale 66); Dacres-Cogley, Maghoma (Dempsey 48), Thomason, Ogbeta (Adeboyejo 66); Charles (Jerome 66), Collins. Substitutes: Coleman, Forrester, Morley.

Booked: Jones, Dempsey, Baxter, Thomason

Oxford United: Cumming; Long, Moore, Brown, Bennett (Leigh 87); Brannagan (McGuane 64); Rodrigues (McEachran 80), Goodrham; Dale, Harris, Murphy. Substitutes: Eastwood, McEachran, Bodin, Browne, Stevens, McGuane, Leigh.

Booked: Goodrham

Referee: Sam Barrott

Attendance: 70,472

Read Time: 4 mins