Oxford United’s hopes for promotion to the Championship next season were disappointed after Wycombe Wanderers capitalised on a late penalty to take the win.
The much-anticipated game took place at Wembley on 13 July after the entire squad and staff passed extensive COVID-19 tests to ensure safety in the play-off final.
Oxford went down a goal just 9 minutes into the first half after centre-back Anthony Jacobson edged a header pasted Oxford goalkeeper Simon Eastwood. Despite coming back fighting after the break, Mark Sykes’ 57th minute equaliser would come to nothing after Joe Jacobson’s penalty strike secured the Wanderers’ the win with 10 minutes left of the game.
Despite statistically dominating the game with 76% possession and producing 13 shots on goal compared to Wycombe’s 5, Oxford could not complete their comeback despite late attempts from Rob Dickie and Matty Taylor. The U’s will spend another season in League 1 while Wycombe progress to the Championship, only 6 years after the Wanderers faced potential elimination from the English Football League. The win signals the end to a fantastic season for the Buckinghamshire side who were even considered relegation candidates at the start of this season after their bottom six finish last season.
Speaking to the BBC, Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth looked forward to the club’s future stating: “It’s an amazing feeling. To take this club into the Championship is just surreal, it’s beyond my wildest dreams. There are 25 individual stories that have ended in the Championship and I’m so proud of the boys. They’ve been amazing.”
Meanwhile, Oxford United manager Karl Robinson reflected on the game that cost his side the promotion, telling the BBC: “All of the things that were out of our control didn’t fall for us. We’ve probed and just not taken our chance. The mistakes that we made were small errors and unfortunately
it’s cost us.”
Oxford right-back Sam Long admitted his disappointment, but encouraged fans to look forward to next season, telling the Oxford United website: “Playing at Wembley was a fantastic experience but ultimately it was
unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. So let’s get that out of our systems, let’s learn from it and let’s use it as motivation to go one better next time around.”
Return dates for League One and the Championship next season have not yet been confirmed.