Date:Saturday March 7 2009
Wycombe Wanderers scored in stoppage time to force a 1-1 draw against a dangerous looking Chesterfield side at Adams Park this afternoon.
Manager Peter Taylor made one change to the side that defeated Chester City 2-0 on Tuesday evening, with Matt Harrold returning to the Chairboys' attack at the expense of Stuart Beavon.
Wycombe lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows:
Casement(58) McCracken Johnson(87) Woodman
Zebroski(63) Mousinho Doherty Phillips
Subs: Jones Antwi Spence(63) Ashton(87) Beavon(58)
Early in the first half it became apparent that Chesterfield had come to Adams Park with a win in mind. Playing a high back line, the Spireites ventured forward in numbers and had the better of the opening exchanges as they looked to create opportunities for either of their wily and experienced frontmen Jack Lester and Martin Gritton.
Referee Andy Hall also laid down an early marker. It seemed that as far as he was concerned a Wycombe player only had to look sideways at an opponent in order to be penalised, whilst the Chesterfield players could do no wrong. Mr. Hall's linesmen were obviously on the same page as the man in the middle and the afternoon was littered with some bizarre and clearly flawed offside decisions.
The visitors came close to opening the scoring in the 12th minute when only a superb save from Wycombe keeper Jamie Young prevented Gritton from slotting the ball just inside the post. Gritton had found space on the left of the penalty area and showing good control had manufactured a shooting chance for himself only to see Young dive at full stretch down to his left to make a fingertip save.
The home side were struggling to create chances and too many passes were going astray or not having enough legs to reach their intended target. Most of it was down to human error but some of the blame may lie with the poor playing surface which looked sticky and was also producing some inconsistent bounces.
The opening goal came about after Matt Harrold had taken the law into his own hands and conceded a needless free kick. Fed-up with Chesterfield defenders fouling him and remaining unpunished, Harrold exacted a little retribution of his own on Daniel Hall by going in late. Coming immediately after Harrold had been down injured, it was such an obvious act of revenge that a yellow card seemed certain but surprisingly the referee contented himself with awarding the free kick.
From the free kick, the ball glanced off Doherty's head and over the Wycombe defence into the path of an unmarked Jack Lester who didn't need asking twice and clinically fired it home.
Wycombe kept trying to create an opening but all too often promising moves turned to nothing after hesitancy allowed the Chesterfield defence to re-group. Breakaway opportunities were squandered when early passes allowing Pittman or Phillips to use their pace were spurned in favour of one too many unnecessary sideways or backward passes.
It took 44 minutes for the home side to trouble the Chesterfield goal only to be thwarted by the woodwork. Jon-Paul Pittman's early cross from the right flank was met by Chris Zebroski whose powerful header from the edge of the box had the keeper beaten but crashed against the crossbar.
When the half time whistle went Chesterfield were good value for their lead.
The Second half was less than a minute old when the game was almost up for Wycombe. Craig Woodman, who had been indecisive all game, tried to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick but was easily dispossessed in the box. In the ensuing panic, Jack Lester was clearly upended by Woodman and after a teasing moment of hesitation, referee Hall pointed to the spot with an unnecessary flourish.
As Lester stepped up to take the kick, only the most optimistic Wycombe fan would have given their side any hope of salvaging something from a two goal deficit. Fortunately, hero of the hour Jamie Young made another superb save. Diving to his left, Young could only watch as the ball went the other way but with a flick of his leg he denied Lester a second goal.
It was Lester again who almost scored from the resulting corner but his near-post header was deflected past the post.
Young saved Wycombe yet again in the 55th minute when he made a double save to thwart Lester, finally diving at his feet to gather the ball.
Lester and Gritton had made the normally composed Wycombe back four look positively clueless at times this afternoon and it's just as well they had the agile Young behind them to save the day.
After 58 minutes Chris Casement was replaced by Stuart Beavon, with Matty Phillips slotting in at right-back and Beavon playing just behind the front two.
That formation didn't last for long however and 5 minutes later Chris Zebroski was replaced by Lewwis Spence, with Mousinho moving to right-back and Phillips returning to his wide midfield position.
Wycombe now had their best spell of the game with Matty Phillips and Jon-Paul Pittman both making runs at the Chesterfield defence in search of an opening. The home side also saw a succession of crosses comfortably fielded by the visitors.
An unmarked Leon Johnson got his head to a cross after 78 minutes but couldn't keep his effort on target.
Then Matt Harrold had a couple of shots which were blocked, before Pittman was hacked down following a superb run and the Chairboys were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position just outside the box.
Three Wycombe players gathered around the ball obviously plotting their strategy, but despite training all week for moments like this, they contrived to mess it up so badly between them that the opportunity was squandered.
With the crowd fearing their last chance was gone, Wycombe still kept coming forward and even Tommy Doherty had a 20 yard shot saved after 87 minutes.
A few moments later Leon Johnson was replaced by Nathan Ashton as Peter Taylor took his last throw of the dice.
Then in stoppage time Wycombe were awarded a free-kick close to the left touchline. Ashton took it and his cross dropped in the middle of the penalty area where Pittman was quickest to react, turning and firing the ball into the back of the net.
If ever a draw felt like a win, this was it.
Chesterfield will feel hard done by, after more than matching Wycombe this afternoon. Their strikers may be getting on in years but they gave the Chairboys' defence a very difficult game. With games still to play against Brentford, Bradford, Rochdale and Gillingham, the Spireites could yet do the Chairboys a few favours.
Wycombe are now unbeaten in five games but will have to play a lot better than they did today if they hope to retain an automatic promotion place.
Wycombe Man Of The Match
His saves earned Wycombe their point.
Date:Saturday March 7 2009
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