Ten man Wycombe battle for a point
In yet another incident-packed match at Adams Park, Wycombe Wanderers grabbed a late equaliser to draw 2-2 with Oldham Athletic having played the best part of 70 minutes with only ten men after striker John Akinde was sent off for raising his hand to an opponent.
Manager Gary Waddock elected to drop Matt Harrold and with Tommy Doherty returning to the side Wycombe lined up as follows:
Hunt Oliver Westwood Woodman
Betsy( 53) Mousinho Davies Doherty Phillips (53)
Subs: Young Duberry Green Bloomfield Beavon Harrold(53) Pittman(53)
Most teams visiting Adams Park seem to start the game on the front-foot as if they assume that Wycombe's lowly position make them an easy target, and the Latics were no different, enjoying the majority of the early possession as they pushed forward in search of the opening goal.
These days however, it doesn't take long before the opposition become more cautious after realising the Chairboys themselves possess a viable threat going forward, but today the Latics could easily have been a goal up before their initial onslaught subsided.
With only five minutes on the clock, Lewis Hunt was adjudged to have tripped Dale Stephens inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot despite an offside flag being raised fractionally earlier.
Latics' on-loan striker Paul Heffernan took the penalty but was thwarted by Wycombe keeper Scott Shearer who guessed correctly, diving to his right and pushing the ball away.
To add insult to injury, the Chairboys punished Oldham even further three minutes later when their on-loan striker John Akinde scored his first goal of the campaign following good work from Tommy Doherty, Matt Phillips and Kevin Betsy.
Doherty's inch-perfect pass set Phillips free down the right-flank and when the youngster crossed the ball, Betsy turned on a sixpence and fired in a shot which Latics' keeper Darryl Flahavan couldn't hold, allowing Akinde to pounce on the rebound and score from close range.
Oldham came back strongly and only a perfectly timed last-ditch tackle from Lewis Hunt prevented an equaliser, before the defining moment of the match when Akinde turned from Hero to Villain by getting himself needlessly sent off and reducing the Chairboys to ten men with a very long time still to play.
Scott Davies had made a run to the Oldham bye-line before sending in a low cross to Akinde and although the linesman flagged that Davies had overrun the ball, Akinde shot anyway and this seemed to provoke a minor spat between the big striker and Oldham's Sean Gregan, with Akinde seeing red after appearing to raise his hand.
Having spent the best part of his first month's loan-spell injured, it seems that most of Akinde's second month will now be spent suspended.
With no strikers on the field, Waddock resisted the temptation to make a substitution and Scott Davies simply played a more advanced role as the Chairboys battled to protect their lead.
Oldham finally equalised on the stroke of half-time although they had certainly squandered several gilt-edged chances before then. Wycombe keeper Scott Shearer will no doubt be disappointed to have been beaten from almost 30 yards out, but there was no denying the quality of Danny Whitaker's fine strike as the ball rocketed inside Shearer's right-hand post.
From the kick-off Wycombe's Scott Davies executed a fine strike of his own, his audacious 50 yard attempt to catch Flahavan off his line, only narrowly missing the crossbar. Quality.
The second half began with another goal for Oldham, and Shearer will again be disappointed that he didn't make any attempt to boss his box and come for a corner kick which sailed close to him before dropping nicely for Reuben Hazell to nod home from close range, virtually unchallenged.
This early setback sparked a double substitution, with Matt Harrold and Jon-Paul Pittman entering the fray in place of wide men Betsy and Phillips. The two newcomers played up-front and any attacking width was now the responsibility of the full-backs.
Having been under the cosh for most of the game, Wycombe began to play really well and enjoyed the majority of the second half possession albeit without creating many chances.
Oldham were still a big danger on the break and one particular shot from Heffernan, hit the right hand post, then the crossbar and then the left-hand post before bouncing harmlessly out.
At the other end, a delightful ball over the top from Davies sent Harrold clear inside the Oldham box, but after struggling to control the ball he missed his chance.
Pittman was proving a handful for the Latics' defence and after one particular burst of pace down the right-flank he sent over a delightful low cross which was begging to be fired-home, but sadly Harrold was still making up ground and was unable to benefit.
Referee Danny McDermid had set out his stall early in this game. He certainly wasn't going to be called a 'homer,' appeared to have difficulty keeping up with play, and generally enraged the Wycombe support by ignoring bucketloads of blatant Oldham misdemeanors.
But I forgive him. With the clock showing 88 minutes played, John Mousinho took a tumble in the box and Mr McDermid pointed to the spot.
Matt Harrold grabbed the ball like a man who knows penalties are his best chance of getting on the scoresheet and duly delighted the frozen Adams Park faithful by firing home the equaliser.
The full time whistle blew with honours even and while Oldham will be kicking themselves for not making more of their numerical advantage, the Chairboys can be proud of the fact they never gave up and were rewarded with a hard earned point.
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