REPORT | Wanderers 5 Oxford United 0

Josh Sheehan goal celebration Oxford

Five-star Wanderers got back to their best with a crushing win over play-off hopefuls Oxford to re-ignite their promotion push in spectacular style, writes Pete Oliver.

Nathaneal Ogbeta and birthday boy Josh Dacres-Cogley struck before the break to set the Whites on their way to an emphatic 13th home victory of the season which keeps Ian Evatt’s men just a point behind second-placed Derby County in the League One table.

And Wanderers will now go to face the Rams on Saturday in the perfect frame of mind after rattling in three more goals after the break to sink the U’s as George Thomason and Aaron Collins added to the lead before man-of-the-match Josh Sheehan provided a fitting finish with the last of the night.

A near flawless performance from the Whites – including a second successive clean sheet at the Toughsheet Community Stadium – also enhanced their goal difference as they turned on the magic in front of the Sky Sports cameras to extend their unbeaten run to four games and keep the automatic promotion places within touching distance with one game to go before an international break.

Dacres-Cogley celebration Oxford

Wanderers ended their hectic run of mid-week fixtures since the turn of the year with three changes to their starting line-up to cope with an ever-growing injury list and bring in some fresh legs out wide.

And it proved an inspired decision as both wing-backs got on the scoresheet inside the opening half-hour to give the Whites control.

That had been the case pretty much from the off but this time – unlike at Exeter last Saturday – Wanderers really made their superiority pay by establishing a two-goal lead.

The other returning starter, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, also had a hand in the opening goal 18 minutes in when he picked out Thomason on the edge of the penalty area.

Thomason had the presence of mind to then feed Ogbeta, who took a touch before drilling home a left-foot shot to claim his first goal at the Toughsheet Community Stadium.

Thomason strike Oxford

This time there was no letting up as Wanderers swarmed all over an Oxford side looking for the win to get them back into the play-off places.

And, crucially, they quickly added the second goal thanks to a helping hand from the visitors, who made a mess of a long ball forward from Ricardo Almeida Santos for Dacres-Cogley to accept a gift on his 28th birthday and coolly direct the ball past retreating defender Ciaron Brown and into the net.

With the visitors struggling to keep Wanderers at bay, they almost let in Collins in for a third goal which would surely have killed the contest three minutes into the second half.

And the Whites’ striker should again have added it moments later when Paris Maghoma – who ran the show in tandem with Thomason and the outstanding Sheehan – played him in for a chance he lifted over the top.

Collins wouldn’t be denied, though, and was involved in the goal that finally put Wanderers 3-0 up and out of sight with an hour gone as their intensity and pace on and off the ball proved to much for the visitors.

Aaron Collins goal Oxford

Almeida Santos further lifted the mood and the crowd with a barn-storming run forward which got Oxford on the back foot and unable to clear a corner. Sheehan duly teed up Thomason whose fierce strike took a touch of both U's defender Greg Leigh and Collins before flying into the net.

If there was any doubt about who that goal belonged to - Thomason ulimately getting the credit - there was no debate about the fourth as Collins this time crowned a stunning move with a striker’s finish.

Evatt’s men again picked the U’s apart and when Ogbeta was released wide on the left, his fizzing low cross reached Collins on the stretch to thump the ball home at the far post.

This was Wanderers sweetly back on song and when Sheehan deservedly got in on the act it was five, the midfielder stroking the ball into the bottom corner with a lovely finish after Dacres-Cogley and Maghoma had again caused havoc.

At that stage there was the possibility of repeating November’s 7-0 win over Exeter when Wanderers set a new record home league win for the stadium.

Josh Sheehan goal celebration Oxford

Substitute Cameron Jerome almost added a sixth as he burst clear and made space for a shot which Jamie Cumming saved and Dacres-Cogley also volleyed a late chance over the top.

But Wanderers had long since made their mark and issued a timely reminder that at their best they take some stopping.

Wanderers: Coleman; Jones, Almeida Santos (Iredale 81), Toal; Sheehan; Dacres-Cogley, Maghoma, Thomason (Dempsey 71), Ogbeta (Williams 75); Bodvarsson (Morley 81), Collins (Jerome 75). Substitutes: Forrester, Ashworth.


Oxford United: Cumming; Stevens (Long HT), Moore, Brown, Leigh; McGuane, Brannagan; Dale (Bennett 79), Rodrigues (Bodin 66), Murphy; Harris (Goodwin 66). Substitutes: Eastwood, Thorniley, Henry.

Booked: Dale, Brannagan, Brown.

Referee: Sunny Singh Gill

Attendance: 19,134 (223)

Read Time: 5 mins