Oxford 1-2 Wycombe: Gareth Ainsworth’s side earn promotion to the second tier for the first time EVER as Joe Jacobson nets winner in League One play-off final at Wembley
- Wycombe have earned a stunning League One play-off final win over Oxford
- Anthony Stewart headed in Joe Jacobson’s corner in the first half for the lead
- Mark Sykes equalised in second half but Jacobson converted a late penalty
- It is the first time Wycombe have reached the second tier in 133-year history
Gareth Ainsworth hailed his unlikely heroes and their rock ‘n’ roll style as Wycombe Wanderers climbed into the second tier of English football for the first time in their 133-year history.
This tiny club, with an average crowd of less than 4,000, are destined for the Championship after beating M40 rivals Oxford at Wembley in the League One play-off final.
It is a success against the odds for Ainsworth, their long-serving manager who brings his own brand of rock star chic to the touchline with long hair, open shirts and red leather shoes.
Wycombe Wanderers celebrate their League One play-off final victory over Oxford United
Oxford United boss Karl Robinson consoles Cameron Brannagan after the full-time whistle
Wycombe went ahead in the first half through a header from defender Anthony Stewart
Mark Sykes struck back to level the match for Oxford United just before the hour mark
Captain Joe Jacobson stepped up to score late spot-kick and seal promotion from League One
The Chairboys had just nine senior players when they started pre-season training in 2019
OXFORD UNITED: Eastwood, Long (Forde 80), Dickie, Moore, Ruffels, Henry (Agyei 80), Gorrin (Kelly 46), Brannagan, Sykes, Taylor, Browne (Woodburn 89).
SUBS NOT USED: Stevens, Mousinho, Mackie, Hanson, Atkinson
GOAL: Sykes 57
WYCOMBE: Allsop, Grimmer, Charles, Stewart, Jacobson, Bloomfield (Pattison 46), Gape, Nnamdi Ofoborh (Thompson 62), Wheeler, Samuel (Akinfenwa 62), Onyedinma (Freeman 90).
GOALS: Stewart 9, Jacobson 79 (pen)
SUBS NOT USED: Jombati, Kashket, Phillips, Parker, Stockdale.
REFEREE: Rob Jones (Northumberland)
‘This is Wycombe Wanderers’ greatest hit by a million miles,’ said the 47-year-old who normally reserves Monday nights to practice with his band The Cold Blooded Hearts, and he belted out the national anthem as if he was on stage.
‘It’s an amazing feeling. To take this club into the Championship is surreal, beyond my wildest dreams.
‘It’s one of the biggest leagues in the world and we’re going to play in it next season. I’m so proud of them.’
Wycombe, in the top two for much of the campaign, were eighth when games were suspended but leapt to third on points-per game and have excelled in the play-offs.
Joe Jacobson settled the final with a penalty, 11 minutes from time, after Oxford goalkeeper Simon Eastwood felled Fred Onyedinma on the break.
They were roared on inside the empty stadium by substitutes, staff and directors, who were all under orders from the manager.
‘I asked, can we be our own crowd? Can we make a difference, even with nobody in there?’ said Ainsworth. ‘We don’t care what we look like if that’s what it takes to get the job done.’
For Oxford, it was a cruel end to a fine season although that was scant consolation for Karl Robinson.
‘Right now, this is as low as it gets,’ said Robinson.
His side dominated at Wembley and paid dearly for wasted chances and mistakes at the back.
For goalkeeper Eastwood, hero of the semi-final shootout win against Portsmouth, it was a night to forget.
It took just nine minutes for Stewart (left) to rise highest and head in Jacobson’s corner
The game took place in a deserted Wembley, with seats filled instead by cardboard cut-outs
Jacobson put one of League One’s smallest clubs budget-wise into the Championship
Less than 10 minutes had gone when he unwittingly turned the ball into his own net after misjudging the flight of a corner from Jacobson, headed back across goal by Anthony Stewart.
Oxford levelled with a freakish goal of their own.
Mark Sykes miscued a cross from the right and it sailed over goalkeeper Ryan Allsop and into the net.
Allsop made amends with some excellent saves and Stewart was immense as Wycombe survived late pressure to reach new heights.
Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth celebrates taking the club to the second tier for the first time
Ainsworth has been in charge at Wycombe since 2012 and guided them out of League Two
Matt Bloomfield and Adebayo Akinfenwa (right) jointly lift the trophy at an empty Wembley