Match Report: Battling Wycombe Stay Top
It looked like a bad week was going to get even worse for Wycombe Wanderers, until Leon Johnson popped up in the 90th minute with a well deserved equaliser at Blundell Park.
As a result, the Wanderers remain unbeaten and still occupy top spot in League Two after a 1-1 draw away at Grimsby Town.
Wycombe made two changes from the side which beat Bournemouth last Saturday. Gary Holt returned a week earlier than expected to replace Lewwis Spence and Gavin Grant took Matty Phillips' place.
The Blues started the game in a 4-3-3 formation, with Doherty, Holt and Mousinho in the midfield positions.
Wycombe, who were conceding goals for fun on Tuesday evening, carried on where they had left off, by presenting new Grimsby manager Mike Newell with a dream start.
The Mariners took the lead after only 50 seconds when a Heggarty shot squirmed under Wycombe keeper Scott Shearer and was poked home by Peter Bore. It may have actually crossed the line before Bore's touch, but that mattered little to Blues' fans who had just seen the team concede their fifth goal in seventeen minutes of football. Shearer should have done better with Heggarty's shot, but the damage was done and Wycombe had conceded their first goal away from home this season.
Urged on by their biggest crowd of the season, Grimsby tried to build some momentum, but it was Wycombe who immediately took control of the game. For the remainder of the first half, the Blues probed away at the Mariners but were unable to make it count.
Zebroski had four attempts on goal, the pick of which was a 20 yard strike after 15 minutes, which home keeper Barnes did well to stop. Gavin Grant is always prepared to have a shot and he weighed-in with two attempts of his own from distance, but the Grimsby goal remained intact. Wycombe had won the first half on points, but Grimsby had landed the knockout blow.
Scott McGleish replaced Gary Holt at half time and the Chairboys began the second period playing a 4-4-2 formation as they searched for the equaliser. In the 55th minute they nearly got it when Matt Harrold's close range effort was only kept out by a desperate Ryan Bennett block.
After 60 minutes Grimsby made two substitutions and adopted a 4-5-1 formation. It appeared that they were happy to protect their lead and invite Wycombe to try to break them down. Blues manager Peter Taylor countered by immediately replacing John Mousinho with a more attacking player in Matty Phillips.
Further goal scoring attempts ensued from McGleish, Johnson, Grant and Zebroski, but it looked like being a frustrating afternoon for the Chairboys.
In the 81st minute, Peter Taylor rolled the dice again, taking off defender David McCracken and sending on midfielder Lewwis Spence. The Blues were trying everything to preserve their unbeaten record.
Then further disaster struck in the 85th minute when Blues midfield maestro Tommy Doherty was given a straight red card by referee Colin Webster. It was difficult to see how the referee arrived at this decision. In a clean match which had been devoid of any bad tackles by either side, this one looked like no more than a yellow card offence.
As the clock ticked towards Wycombe's first League defeat of the season, the Blues were awarded a free kick on the left side of the pitch. Craig Woodman took the kick and his cross found Leon Johnson in the centre of the box. Fan's favourite Johnson made no mistake, heading the equaliser to become the 8th Wanderers' player to score in the league so far this season.
Today's game was a tough one for Wycombe. Grimsby's new managerial appointment had brought out a home crowd 1,000 up on their average gate and the Wanderers players had to show they could pick themselves up after Tuesday. An early goal for Grimsby was the last thing they needed. However, a never-say-die performance was to follow and the equaliser was the least the Blues deserved.
Peter Taylor should also take some credit for his substitutions. It's not so long ago that Wycombe had a manager who would just hope something turned up as we drifted towards defeat. Taylor is prepared to radically change things in pursuit of a result. Today we got a point for our efforts.
Wycombe's day got even better when it was discovered that this morning's closest rivals Bury and Shrewsbury had both suffered home defeats. However, key player Doherty's forthcoming three match suspension will test the Blues in a way they could have done without.
Man Of The Match
A real handful for Grimsby all game.