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Oxford Utd 2, Wycombe Wanderers 2 (09/04)
After making it 1-0, man-of-the-match Alfie Potter turns to celebrate with Simon Clist, who is already exclaiming his delight ar Oxford United taking a deserved lead in their derby clash with Wycombe Wanderers, but the U’s were unable to hold their le
More than 9,000 spectators witnessed a pulsating local derby at the Kassam Stadium.
But Oxford United were left kicking themselves, and not for the first time this season, that they had let slip a winning position through poor defending.
Two goals up early in the second half, this was a real chance to put one over their near-neighbours, and maintain their own, albeit slim, play-off hopes.
But second-placed Wycombe showed the qualities that will probably take them up, with a stirring fightback, and the U's demonstrated with their two lapses of concentration at the back, why they have fallen just short this season, despite some very bright attacking play.
Alfie Potter was recalled to United's starting line-up, and he made his presence known with most of Oxford's best moves going through him.
From an early Potter raid on the left, Constable struck a first-time drive that Chairboys keeper Nickki Bull beat out.
Soon after, Constable headed well over the bar from Simon Heslop's cross.
These three players, Potter, Constable and Heslop, were to be instrumental in Chris Wilder's men having the edge in the first half, as all posed a significant threat in their very differing ways.
Potter's speed and trickery, and intelligent play, gave Wycombe a lot to think about, while Constable rattled the two centre halves with his all-action style and fierce determination at every challenge.
And Heslop, tigerish in the tackle, produced some pinpoint passes.
One came in the 34th minute, through the middle, and Potter finished in style with a shot past Bull high into the net from the edge of the box.
It was hard to argue at that stage that the home side did not deserve to be in front.
Constable had let the ball run for Steve Maclean to fire in a drive that Bull only managed to save with his legs.
And from MacLean's cutback, Constable burst into the area and went down under the challenge of Winfield.
Although it seemed to me as though United's centre forward was looking for the penalty, and trying to invite the challenge, it also looked as though contact was made, so it probably should have been a spot kick.
Referee Darren Deadman thought about it, but waved play on.
Gary Waddock's side, also breaking forward at pace in a frenetic and open first half, had opportunties.
They had begun the game strongly, their crisp passing indicating plenty of confidence, and they were almost presented with a goal when a Ryan Clarke clearance smashed into the back of Jake Wright and ricocheted goalwards, before arcing away.
Bull, who had been outstanding in the 0-0 draw between these two sides at Adams Park in August, has surely got to be one of the top two or three keepers in League Two. Clarke is possibly up there as well.
And the Wycombe keeper was to be the scourge of United again.
He bravely dived at the feet of Ryan Burge after a super move involving yes, Heslop, Potter and Constable.
Clarke showed anything Bull coud do, he could do too, by making a great save from Kevin Betsy at the very end of the first half - and then a sensational reaction second save immediately after.
One up at half-time, and the U's were looking good.
And their position improved further eight minutes after the break when after some more Potter magic, they went two up.
The winger broke down the right, and his dangerous low cross was turned into his own net by centre half Dave Winfield.
Frailties had begun to appear at the other end, however.
Harry Worley was booked for bringing down Jon-Paul Pittman, who had got goalside of him, and Wright followed him into the referee's notebook, though his card seemed much harsher.
And just after the hour, there was a massive open space in the middle of Oxford's penalty area as an unmarked Scott Rendell planted a well-placed 15-yard header beyond Clarke to make it 2-1.
Three minutes later and further sloppy defending on both flanks, enabled a cross to come in and then allowed Pittman all the time in the world to coolly volley home an equaliser.
At this stage there looked to be only one winner, and Winfield went close with a hooked shot at a corner.
But United recovered from the double blow to come on strong again near the end.
Ryan Doble came on for Constable and put himnself about.
The on-loan Southampton forward was just about to pull the trigger, from Tom Craddock's pass, when Leon johnson came in with a great block.
As the clock ticked down, Craddock then took a return pass on the edge of the area and struck a powerful low 20-yarder that would have beaten just about any other keeper.
But not Bull, who made a top-class low save with one hand.
So 2-2 it finished and Wycombe were the happier.
But what a great game for everyone watching.