Wycombe run amok at Fleetwood as Oxford hold Portsmouth in play-offs

By on July 3, 2020

Wycombe took firm control of their League One play-off semi-final with Fleetwood as they cruised to a thumping 4-1 victory at Highbury.

Gareth Ainsworth’s team, who finished the regular campaign in third place, were terrific value for their victory against a home side who had two men sent off and saw their 12-match unbeaten run ended.

The hosts could also be in trouble after a red flare was thrown on to the pitch by someone inside the stadium in the 88th minute.

There was a breathtaking start to the game with three goals in the opening seven minutes. The Chairboys struck first after only 75 seconds. A loose ball fell invitingly for Nnamdi Ofoborh, and he drove crisply into the net 25 yards.

Fleetwood swiftly levelled from the spot when Ched Evans converted after Lewis Gibson was clumsily bundled over by the Wycombe goalkeeper Ryan Allsop. The Fleetwood goalkeeper Alex Cairns then handed Wycombe the lead in the seventh minute when he could only parry Joe Jacobson’s inswinging corner into his own net.

The drama continued just past the half-hour mark when the hosts were reduced to 10 men. Lewie Coyle was shown a straight red card following a high tackle on Jacobson in the hosts’ box, but then Cairns redeemed himself by superbly saving Jacobson’s penalty.

Wycombe then added a third goal deep into first-half stoppage-time. Fred Onyedinma made room for himself in the box, and after his strike was blocked, David Wheeler pounced on the loose ball and scored smartly from 10 yards.

Another goalkeeping howler from Cairns gifted Wycombe a fourth goal in the 57th minute. The Fleetwood goalkeeper spilled Allsop’s hopeful ball forward as he went up with Harry Souttar and the ball then fell invitingly for Alex Samuel, who lashed in comfortably from 15 yards.

A calamitous evening for Joey Barton’s team was complete six minutes from time when their substitute and leading scorer Paddy Madden received a yellow card for diving in the Wycombe box, and was then sent off after being booked again for dissent.

Earlier, Portsmouth’s wait for a first victory in the play-offs continued after they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Oxford in the first leg of their League One semi-final. Marcus Browne pounced for Oxford two minutes before half-time to cancel out the Republic of Ireland international Ronan Curtis’s 14th goal of the season.

Marcus Browne scores Oxford’s equaliser at Portsmouth Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA

Pompey, who have now gone seven play-off matches without a single win, came storming out of the starting blocks. Curtis could have opened the scoring after only six minutes when his drilled shot clattered the base of the post.

The hosts carved out another good chance three minutes later from Marcus Harness’s floated free-kick but the defender Christian Burgess could not keep his header down. Kenny Jackett’s side took a deserved lead in the 32nd minute when Curtis found space inside the Oxford penalty area before firing low past the goalkeeper Simon Eastwood at his near post.

The goal seemed to spark Oxford into life and, in the 38th minute, the on-loan Bristol City striker Matty Taylor was inches away from getting on the end of Browne’s cross. Karl Robinson’s side were not to be denied, though, and equalised in the 43rd minute courtesy of Browne’s sixth goal of the season. Browne picked up the ball 10 yards outside the Portsmouth penalty area before cutting in from the left and steering a right-foot shot beyond Alex Bass.

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After the break Burgess tested the reflexes of Eastwood with a downward header from a Harness free-kick, which the Oxford keeper did well to turn past the post, but Pompey could not find a winner. The two teams will meet again at Oxford’s Kassam Stadium on Monday to decide who progresses to the final at Wembley on 13 July.

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