Wycombe Call The Shots In 3-0 Win
Wycombe Wanderers brushed aside Aldershot Town at Adams Park this afternoon to take another giant stride toward their target of League One football next season.
With five of the top six teams winning this afternoon, the Chairboys' 3-0 victory didn't improve their overnight league position but it leaves them firmly in control of their own destiny with only two weeks of the season remaining.
Manager Peter Taylor made two changes to the team that lost at Exeter on Monday, with Jon-Paul Pittman and Matt Bloomfield coming in for Tommy Doherty and Chris Zebroski.
The Chairboys lined up in a 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 formation as follows:
Hunt McCracken Sinclair Woodman
Phillips Sawyer Holt(75) Bloomfield Pittman(88)
Subs: Jones Oliver Mousinho(75) Spence(88) Beavon(78)
An early goal was just what the Adams Park faithful needed to soothe their nerves this afternoon and the prolific John Akinde obliged with a close range volley after only 7 minutes.
The Chairboys had started the game in encouraging fashion and when the lively Jon-Paul Pittman sent in a teasing cross from the left wing, Shots defender Dean Howell could only head it against his own post. The ball rebounded out to Akinde on the six-yard line and the big striker reacted quickly to fire it high into the net and send the home crowd wild.
With every Wycombe supporter in the ground hoping the early goal wouldn't mean 83 minutes of sitting back and protecting their lead, the home side pleasantly surprised everyone by continuing to push forward in search of a second goal.
Matt Bloomfield came close to doubling the Chairboys' lead only 7 minutes later when he broke from midfield and fired in a rasping drive from the edge of the box which was well saved at full stretch by Shots' keeper Nikki Bull.
Jon-Paul Pittman was clearly intent on making the most of his recall to the starting line-up and was giving the Aldershot defence a torrid time on the left flank. After forcing a save from Bull after 25 minutes, Pittman came even closer 5 minutes later when his fine run culminated in a powerful low shot which skidded past the post by a whisker.
Towards the end of the first half the Chairboys did begin to sit back a little and during this period the Shots had several half-chances to equalise. Their best effort came from John Grant just before the interval when his 25 yard rocket-shot only narrowly missed the target.
The second half was only moments old when Grant gave the home side another fright. Breaking through on goal with only the keeper to beat, it looked like he would level the score until Jamie Young stuck out a leg to deflect the ball wide of the post.
The Chairboys needed another goal to make this game safe and 7 minutes into the second half they got it thanks to Jon-Paul Pittman.
Taking the ball on the left hand side of the box, Pittman showed sublime control to dink it over the defender and collect it again on the other side, instantly firing in a shot which keeper Bull did well to block. Sadly for the Shots, the ball rebounded off covering defender Ricky Newman and went straight back past Bull and into the net.
At this point, the combination of Aldershot heads dropping and Wycombe relaxing a little, conspired to give the home fans some of the most attacking football they've seen from their side this season.
It should have been three when a fine move down the left wing allowed the overlapping Craig Woodman to send in a pinpoint cross which the unmarked Lee Sawyer will be cursing himself for heading past the post.
JP Pittman almost got the goal he so deserved today when he shrugged off the attentions of a Shots defender and sprinted into the box to fire the ball into the net, only for the referee to penalise him for a foul when in truth he looked more sinned against than sinner.
Not one to be disheartened though, Pittman immediately bounced back and was the architect of the third goal after 67 minutes. Taking a pass facing the crowd on the left touchline, JP audaciously turned his marker and sprinted towards goal before firing a low a cross into the danger area. Lee Sawyer attempted to convert, but mishit his shot, only for the ball to break to Matty Phillips who coolly slotted home.
On-loan pair, Akinde and Sawyer, were both involved in the move that almost produced a fourth goal for the Chairboys. The Big striker Used his strength to keep a Shots defender at bay before rifling in a shot from just outside the box. The Shots' keeper could only parry it into the path of Sawyer, but the Wycombe midfielder had to agonizingly wait for the ball to drop before shooting and the delay gave Bull time to recover and complete a fine double-save.
That was the last clear-cut chance for Wycombe, but Jamie Young still had some work to do at the other end when his flying save denied Scott Donnelly a consolation goal and gave the Chairboys a club record 20 clean sheets so far this season.
Both sides were injury-hit this afternoon, but while the Shots looked a pale imitation of the side that beat Wycombe earlier in the season, the Chairboys' performance demonstrated the advantages of having strength in depth.
There was a good balance to the Wycombe team today, with Gary Holt putting in a flawless performance as the holding midfielder surrounded by the energetic pairing of Lee Sawyer and Matt Bloomfield.
In the wide positions, Jon-Paul Pittman was superb on the left and looked full of self-belief right from the kick-off. On the other flank, Matty Phillips grew in confidence after a slow start and put in a much better second half performance.
The defence all had good games and up-front John Akinde remains an inspired loan-signing by Peter Taylor.
Gary Holt & Lee Sawyer
The old master and the young livewire combined beautifully in midfield.
Wycombe Man Of The Match
Quick, strong and skillful, he gave the Shots a torrid time.