Wycombe Fail To Hold On For A Win
Wycombe Wanderers saw their lead at the top of League Two reduced to 5 points after their second successive draw in the space of three days. A lucky own-goal gave the Chairboys the lead, before home-side Gillingham grabbed a late equaliser which was no more than they deserved on the balance of play.
Manager Peter Taylor made three changes to the team which started the game against Exeter on Boxing Day. Mike Williamson, Lewwis Spence and John Mousinho came into the side in place of Gary Holt, Matt Bloomfield and the injured Lewis Hunt.
The Chairboys lined up in a 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 formation as follows:
McCracken-(15) Williamson Johnson Woodman
Phillips Mousinho Doherty-(68) Spence Balanta-(84)
Subs: Young Antwi-(68) Bloomfield-(15) Ashton Vieira-(84)
Gillingham shaded the first 20 minutes of the game and only some wayward shooting on their part and a goal-line clearance from Craig Woodman kept the scores level.
Wycombe were forced into an early change when stand-in right-back David McCracken went off injured after only 15 minutes. Midfielder Matt Bloomfield entered the fray and John Mousinho dropped back into defence to take McCracken's place.
The Blues began to come into the game more and should have taken the lead after 25 minutes when Angelo Balanta was played through on goal. He normally likes to take a shot, but this time the youngster spurned the opportunity and tried to beat one man too many before being dispossessed.
Five minutes later the Chairboys did take the lead. Balanta played a pass into space for Bloomfield to chase and Gills keeper Simon Royce came rushing out to clear the danger. Unfortunately for Royce he only succeeded in smashing the ball against his own defender Stuart Lewis and he could only watch helplessly as it rebounded into the net.
Back came the Gills and this time Wycombe had Leon Johnson to thank as he cleared another effort off the line.
Half time came with Wycombe leading but Gillingham no doubt ruing their poor accuracy in front of goal.
The second half was almost exclusively devoted to Gillingham trying to break Wycombe down and the visitors desperately trying to hang on to what they'd got.
After ten minutes of probing, a Gills' corner nearly brought them the equaliser when it caused a lengthy goalmouth scramble which eventually ended with yet another clearance by Leon Johnson.
Manager Peter Taylor then tried to stir things up a bit by changing Wycombe's formation to 4-4-2. Balanta joined Harrold up-front and Lewwis Spence moved over to the left of midfield.
After 68 minutes Tommy Doherty was substituted, presumably because of injury. This meant another reshuffle for Wycombe as Mousinho moved back into midfield and Will Antwi joined the action, becoming the Chairboys' third different right-back of the game.
Curtis Weston had two more chances for the Gills but put both wide before he finally came up with an equalising goal of real quality. With only 6 minutes of normal time remaining a Gillingham free kick was only partially cleared and the ball dropped to Weston a good 25 yards out. Taking it on the volley he hammered home an unstoppable drive which gave Wycombe keeper Shearer no chance.
In a final throw of the dice Wycombe brought on Magno Vieira for Angelo Balanta.
The equalising goal did bring Wycombe out of their shell a bit more during the final minutes and they actually enjoyed some possession in the Gillingham half but couldn't make it count.
The final whistle went with honours even. For so long it looked as if Wycombe would hold on for yet another win at a difficult place to come, but in the end you couldn't really begrudge Gillingham a share of the spoils.
This wasn't a game that will live long in the memory.
A draw at Gillingham is not a bad result given their fine home record but it was a little disappointing that we seemed content to protect our slender lead instead of going for a second goal. Matt Harrold was yet again isolated up-front for much of the game and our attacks kept breaking down as a result.
We're now exactly half way through the season, have played all 23 of our League Two rivals and only one of them has managed to take all 3 points from us. We might not be the most potent attacking force in the division, but it's fair to say that we sure are hard to beat.
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