McClure brace stuns Rotherham
Rotherham United 2 Wycombe Wanderers 3
Vital Wycombe would like to thank guest writer Dale Jenkins for the following report.
Two goals from man of the moment Matt McClure meant Wycombe overturned a 2-1 half time deficit and completed an amazing 3-2 comeback win in a night full of drama and entertainment at the New York Stadium.
Gareth Ainsworth made two changes from the 3-1 defeat against Northampton on Saturday. Dennis Oli and Sam Wood dropped to the bench, with Bruno Andrade and Matt McClure reclaiming starting berths.
The Wanderers got off to the worst possible start. With just sixteen seconds on the clock, Ben Pringle whipped in a dangerous cross, Daniel Nardiello shot straight at Jordan Archer but the keeper dropped the ball and Nardiello pounced to stab it home from close range.
The early setback seemed to visibly affect the confidence of the Wycombe players, and Rotherham were stroking the ball around neatly in dangerous areas. Mark Bradley tried his luck from 20 yards but it was straight at Archer.
Wycombe slowly made their way back into the game and Stuart Lewis squandered a superb chance to equalise, firing high and wide after playing a one-two with McClure and finding himself in the clear with only Andy Warrington to beat.
McClure had also fired one shot into the keeper`s arms and Dave Winfield had headed one over before Captain Winfield headed Wycombe level in the 29th minute from a dangerous Scowen free kick, powerfully flicking the ball beyond the reach of the outstretched Warrington.
However, only six minutes later, Rotherham had regained their lead. Danny Foster stood off far too cautiously and allowed Nardiello to get a shot away resulting in a corner. From the resulting set piece the ball made its way to the back post where a completely unmarked Bradley superbly volleyed a powerful first time effort into the net, with McClure unable to clear off the line.
It was another setback for the visitors but the game was still open and stretched as it reached half time, with Morgan`s low free kick being saved by a diving Warrington.
The second half began with Matt McClure absolutely on fire. Making a series of intelligent runs in behind a lagging Rotherham defence, he tore the hosts back line to shreds. The equaliser arrived in the 50th minute when Foster`s long pass found McClure, who controlled it, flicked the ball over Jason Taylor`s head and fired a low shot into the bottom corner, sparking jubilant scenes in the travelling section.
Things got even better soon after. in the 54th minute, McClure made another superbly timed run in behind from Morgan`s quick free kick. Finding himself one on one, the little striker kept his composure and lobbed Warrington, with the ball bouncing over the line before a defender could get back. It was a stunning finish and it sent the away following of 138 into raptures.
The Chairboys were now visibly full of confidence and Joel Grant made a typically skilful run before firing high and wide of goal.
Ainsworth had noted in the aftermath of the Northampton defeat that perhaps his team selection had been too bold recently, and in a clear attempt to be more savvy, he replaced Grant with the more defensively minded Wood after 63 minutes. It was a sensible move that paid dividends, with the hard working winger providing plenty of protection for Charles Dunne.
Rotherham had already made their full quota of substitutes when Foster went in hard on Josh Morris, meaning the hosts would have to play the final twenty minutes with ten men. Morris received lengthy treatment and was stretchered off, while Foster was also hurt and replaced by Jesse Kewley Graham.
Wycombe looked to counter attack, with Morgan having an effort deflected inches wide, and Dunne`s looping header hitting the crossbar.
In another tactical change, player manager Ainsworth brought himself on for Bruno Andrade to add some more vital experience to the ranks.
It was a sinking feeling hearing that seven minutes were to be added on after long delays for injuries to Morris and Dunne. However, the visitors managed to hold out relatively comfortably, with only a harmless Nardiello header and a skewed shot from Gareth Evans to note.
Rotherham manager Steve Evans had been berating the referee for perceived time wasting throughout the entire second half, and it was the icing on the cake when referee Rob Lewis finally blew the full time whistle.
I feel as pleased as punch for Gareth Ainsworth who has had difficult circumstances and an injury ravaged squad to contend with since he has taken the reigns.
This was a fantastic result and it shows great character in a team to twice recover from falling behind and go on to win the game. Hopefully this can be the catalyst for an improved showing at home to Burton Albion on Saturday.
Ratings: Archer 6, Foster 7 (Kewley-Graham n/a), Johnson 7, Winfield 8, Dunne 8, Grant 7 (Wood 7), Lewis 8, Scowen 7, Andrade 8 (Ainsworth n/a), Morgan 8, McClure 9
Attendance: 5,688 (138 travelling supporters)
Writer: Dale Jenkins