Akinde Strike Takes Wycombe Closer To Promotion
Wycombe Wanderers moved another step closer to League One after beating Luton Town 1-0 at Kenilworth Road this evening.
Back in 2nd place after tonight's victory, the Chairboys need 4 more points to be mathematically certain of promotion, but may require less depending on other teams' results.
Manager Peter Taylor made two changes to the team that beat Aldershot on Saturday, with John Mousinho and Lewwis Spence coming in for Lee Sawyer and Matt Bloomfield.
The Chairboys lined up in a 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 formation as follows:
Hunt McCracken Sinclair Woodman(80)
Phillips(46) Mousinho Holt Spence Pittman(88)
Subs: Jones Oliver(80) Bloomfield(88) Sawyer Beavon(46)
It's evenings like this that make it all worthwhile.
There was tension in the air as the large Wycombe following squeezed their way between Bedfordshire's back gardens and congregated in Luton's less than spacious away-end.
Then, as the kick-off drew closer, nerves were further frayed and eyebrows were raised when the Chairboys starting eleven was announced. With Doherty still unfit to play, the more defensive John Mousinho coming in for Matt Bloomfield was understandable, but the inclusion of Lewwis Spence in place of the in-form Lee Sawyer had most visiting fans scratching their heads in bewilderment.
Who was going to make forward runs from midfield? Was Peter Taylor simply setting his stall out for a draw? Suddenly any pre-match hopes of another attacking performance like Saturday's 3-0 defeat of Aldershot vanished and the realisation dawned that any Wycombe victory this evening was going to be of the nerve-wracking variety.
However, for the first ten minutes of the game it looked like the fans' fears were unfounded as the Wycombe players responded to the superb vocal support and set about the Hatters with a purpose.
Slowly but surely though, the home side began to take control of midfield and for the remainder of the first forty-five minutes, the game was mainly played in the Wycombe half of the pitch.
Neither side had looked like scoring until just before half-time, when they each had an attempt at goal.
Wycombe's effort came about when Jon-Paul Pittman's cross found Spence in space on the edge of the box, but the midfielder could only scoop the ball well wide of the target.
A minute later, Luton had their moment when an Ian Henderson header was on-target but was comfortably saved by keeper Jamie Young.
During the first half, word kept filtering through that Dagenham were giving Brentford a pasting and the Wycombe fans knew that this was a great opportunity to take advantage and perhaps rekindle a title challenge.
So, if anything, the tension was even higher during the half-time interval as the visiting fans waited for the 45 minutes of football which could define their side's season.
Stuart Beavon came on for Matt Phillips at the start of the second half as the Chairboys came out all guns blazing.
After only a few minutes a superb cross from Gary Holt found John Akinde unmarked directly in front of the Luton goal. The big striker seemed almost startled at this golden opportunity and his header failed to even hit the target, instead sailing over the crossbar.
Two minutes later, Stuart Beavon cut in from the right wing and surged into the box, firing a fierce shot just wide of the far post.
The Wycombe fans were wondering if their goalscoring opportunities for the evening had just passed them by, when news arrived that Dagenham had scored yet another goal against Brentford. This prompted the crowd to raise their volume even further.
Then came the moment everyone had hoped for but didn't dare believe would actually happen.
Stuart Beavon sent a clever pass into space on the right flank. A Luton defender chased after it and seemed favourite to reach it first, but looming in his rear-view mirror was the considerable shape of big John Akinde.
Both players arrived at the ball simultaneously but Akinde just shrugged-off the defender to take possession and head goalwards from the right-hand corner of the box. Turning inside to get the ball on his left foot, the on-loan striker calmly slotted it home at the keeper's near post to send the Chairboys barmy army delirious.
I'd like to say it was pretty to watch after the goal but it wasn't.
For the remainder of the match the visitors were on the back foot and had to show every inch of their trademark dogged-defending in order to hang on to their precious one goal lead.
In the final ten minutes, Craig Woodman retired injured and was replaced by Luke Oliver, while Jon-Paul Pittman was sacrificed for Matt Bloomfield.
It all made for a nervous finish before the full-time whistle eventually sounded to the relief of the Wycombe hordes.
It wasn't a great performance from the Chairboys but it was a gutsy victory which puts promotion within touching distance. And, (whisper it softly), the title is still a possibility if Brentford slip up again.
The Wycombe Drummer
Great stamina son!
Wycombe Man Of The Match
A captain's performance.