Wycombe and Brentford Thrill Griffin Park Crowd
Wycombe Wanderers and Brentford had to settle for a share of the points after a pulsating thriller of a game finished 3-3 at Griffin Park this afternoon.
The two meanest defenses in the division were on show today but you would never have believed it as the impressive crowd of 10,642 were treated to more goals than they had dared to hope for in a great advertisement for lower league football which neither side deserved to lose.
The Chairboys so nearly came away with all three points but had to settle for a draw in the end after Tommy Doherty's sending-off allowed Brentford to dominate the latter stages of the game and eventually score the almost inevitable equaliser.
Manager Peter Taylor made four changes to the team that lost at Lincoln on Tuesday, with Chris Casement replacing injured captain David McCracken, former Brentford player John Mousinho replacing Chris Zebroski and Debutants Marek Stech and John Akinde coming in for Jamie Young and Jon-Paul Pittman.
The Chairboys lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows:
Casement Antwi Johnson Woodman
Mousinho(46) Holt Doherty Spence
Subs: Young Oliver(69) Ashton Phillips (on 46, off 69) Pittman(90)
It was a starting line-up that raised a few eyebrows, with keeper Jamie Young in particular, unfortunate to have lost his place after saving Wycombe's bacon on several occasions during recent games.
The midfield-four promised protection for the defence but contained very little flair and most visiting fans saw it as sign that caution was the order of the day for manager Peter Taylor.
On top of that, only Matt Harrold, Matty Phillips and JP Pittman have scored for Wycombe since Leon Johnson's goal against Macclesfield on 2nd December. So with Pittman and Phillips on the bench today and Harrold's last goal coming way back at the end of January, a clean sheet seemed essential if the Chairboys were to take anything from the game.
What followed came as a surprise to everyone.
The two sides emerged into an electric atmosphere, but for the Wycombe fans it was soon to turn sour. After only 90 seconds, a Brentford corner was knocked back into the danger area and Jordan Rhodes was quickest to the ball, prodding it home to the delight of the home support.
It looked like the Chairboys were in for a long afternoon and despite Matt Harrold's shot past the post two minutes later, the Bees were the ones making the running with MacDonald coming close and Gary Holt being forced into a desperate defensive header which narrowly missed his own goal.
Wycombe weathered the storm and started to come into the game more before delighting their travelling support with an equaliser after 13 minutes. A Chris Casement corner was only partially cleared by Brentford keeper Hamer and Tommy Doherty crossed the ball back into the box for John Akinde to head the ball home.
It was almost two for Wycombe shortly afterwards when the impressive Akinde muscled his way forward, shrugging off two Brentford defenders before laying the ball off beautifully into the path of Lewwis Spence. The youngster's shot was powerful and on target, but took a deflection past the post for a corner.
Neither defence would have been proud of themselves so far, but worse was to follow for the Blues. Brentford were awarded a free kick a good 25 yards out and David Hunt clipped the ball into the area for his strikers to attack. They all missed it and so did the Wycombe defenders, fooling the hapless Marek Stech who stood motionless as the ball floated into the corner of his net. It was possibly the softest goal the Chairboys have conceded all season and it couldn't have come at a worse time.
The two sides probed at each other for the next 20 minutes with Brentford almost scoring their third after 37 minutes when Charlie MacDonald almost converted a difficult chance, flashing a close range header just wide of the upright.
On recent performances, not many would have bet on Wycombe coming back a second time but there was a welcome determination about the team today and they got their reward when John Mousinho made it 2-2 after 40 minutes. Craig Woodman's corner wasn't dealt with by Hamer and ex-Bee Mousinho challenged strongly before heading the ball home.
Both sets of fans applauded their players off the pitch at half time after a thrilling first forty-five minutes.
At the start of the second half, Matty Phillips replaced Mousinho and the Wycombe fans saw this as a further sign that their team were prepared to test the Brentford defence and go for all three points. It was John Akinde however, who had the supporters cheering after 48 minutes when he won the ball on the right flank and surged into the box leaving the Bees defence in his wake, before coolly shooting past Keeper Hamer from the narrowest of angles. It was an excellent goal to cap a superb debut for Akinde.
Having taken the lead for the first time in the match, Wycombe began to sit back a little and Brentford, as you would expect, pushed forward in search of an equaliser. But the Blues still looked dangerous every time they got the ball forward and a fourth Wycombe goal looked every bit as likely as a Bees' equaliser.
That all changed after 67 minutes when Wycombe playmaker Tommy Doherty was sent off. Doherty, who had been magnificent at times, lost the ball when he was blatantly hauled over in the middle of the park only for the referee to wave play on and allow Brentford to launch an attack. In his attempt to recover the situation the Doc was adjudged to have raised his arm while challenging David Hunt and referee Taylor was quick to show him a red card.
It was going to be a struggle for Wycombe now with over 20 minutes remaining and Phillips was immediately sacrificed by manager Peter Taylor with giant defender Luke Oliver taking his place.
Brentford could smell blood now and it was just a question of whether the Chairboys could hold out. The answer was no and after 80 minutes, Sam Williams fired home a fine equaliser after Will Antwi and Craig Woodman had between them failed to clear their lines.
The Bees thought they had won it after 88 minutes when Williams found the net again but he was judged to be offside.
As a Wycombe supporter I feel we could have won this game if Doherty had stayed on the pitch, but in truth, neither side deserved to lose this absorbing encounter. When the final whistle went the fans looked as exhausted as the players !
Brentford appeared to be an accomplished side going forward, possessing an energetic midfield with goals in it, along with a cutting edge up-front. Assuming they don't always defend that badly, they look certainties to be promoted and probably as champions.
Wycombe showed some real heart today and their fans will expect nothing less in every game between now and the end of the campaign. Then we might just be visiting Griffin Park again next season.
Doherty's red card and subsequent suspension could potentially affect more than just today's result and if Peter Taylor can find an on-loan playmaker as good as on-loan striker Akinde was today, now might be the time to go and get him.
Wycombe Man Of The Match