A deflected Alfie Mawson effort secured a point against a dogged Accrington Stanley as the Chairboys extended their unbeaten run to six games. It’s been an entertaining passage of matches too with no less than three action packed ‘two two’ draws achieved with Gareth Ainsworth throwing off the shackles and going on the attack.
Four days earlier, the line up against Shrewsbury on paper looked to be very attack minded, even with the last minute change of Sam Saunders coming in for Hogan Ephraim. As a result, Sam Wood was pushed into the front three with Saunders taking on the advanced central midfield position to occupy Shrewsbury’s play-maker Michael Woods. With the Wycombe number eleven being earmarked with this vital role in training all week, the last gasp switch would have unsettled most teams. However, it took just thirty-nine seconds for Wood to score what turned out to be the winner whilst Saunders turned in a man of the match performance.
The Wycombe manager won the tactical battle all ends up. The formation, coupled with the effort and aggression that has always been there under Ainsworth, stopped Shrewsbury from playing their game as all they could offer were aimless long balls forward. Visiting manager Micky Mellon tried to stem the tide with a triple substitution and change from 3-5-2 to a diamond 4-4-2. For ten minutes they edged back into the game but they still didn’t lay a glove on the Chairboys. Ainsworth reacted by matching Shrewsbury’s new formation and introduced Aaron Holloway into the action. Connor Goldson looked pleased to see the back of Fred Onyedinma, who had not given the centre back a moments respite, but Holloway just changed the method of grief by holding the ball up and providing an aerial threat. It was the young Welshman’s finest appearance in the quarters and he was dreadfully unlucky not to score a goal that would have been talked about for years. Spinning off his man and heading infield, Holloway nonchalantly stroked the ball with his ‘wrong’ foot from twenty yards only to see it crash off the underside of the bar and out. Wycombe held on comfortably and the promotion buzz was palpable in the bar afterwards. Magnificent!
Here are the commentary highlights of the Shrewsbury game with myself and Will Vince. many thanks to keith Cummings for the audio.
Mobile & tablet version here
Given the nature of the performance and the well documented size of Wycombe’s squad, Ainsworth unsurprisingly named an unchanged team against Accrington Stanley. Although they were not as swashbuckling as the previous game, it looked to be working against another back three. Sam Wood popped up to finish off a concerted period of pressure with his second headed goal in as many games on the half hour. This prompted Stanley manager John Coleman to swap Dean Winnard into midfield with the giraffe like Matty Crooks slotting into the back three in an attempt to halt the home side. It stabilised the visitors who fired a few warning crosses into the Chairboys penalty area before Piero Mingoia slid the ball invitingly into the path of Terry Gornell, who equalised from close range on the stroke of half time.
The Chairboys looked leggy in the second half but still nearly took the lead on fifty-five minutes through a wonderful Saunders free kick. Somehow the ball came off the post and across the face of goal before going out. Five minutes later it looked as though Wycombe’s luck was out with the impressive Mingoia rifling the ball into the top corner from eighteen yards. Holloway was introduced again but for ten minutes Wycombe offered little threat until Alfie Mawson picked up a loose ball from a free kick into the box and found the equaliser for the second time in three games. Despite a lot of huff and puff, Saturdays herculean efforts appeared to catch up with the Chairboys and a winner could not be found.
This is how close Sam Saunders was to scoring his first goal for Wycombe.
For the post match thoughts of Wycombe Wanderers manager Gareth Ainsworth, talking to me on BBC Three Counties, click here
A special mention must be afforded to Mike Newell for his tremendously angry second half cameo on the touchline against Accrington Stanley. With finger pointing in all directions it was vitriol at its very best and a real pleasure to watch. He seemed fine in the tunnel afterwards, even breaking into a smile at the sight of my hat. I googled Newell when I got home and discovered that he held the record for the fastest Champions League hat-trick, nine minutes for Blackburn Rovers against Rosenborg BK. Sadly for Mike, this record was taken by Bafétimbi Gomis, then of Lyon, who netted three times in seven minutes in 2011/12. You learn something everyday…