Grant off as Blues draw with Shrimps
Wycombe Wanderers 2 Morecambe 2
For the second time in four days, Wycombe had to play the majority of the game with only ten men after Joel Grant was given a straight red card by Andy D'Urso in the 41st minute.
At that point, the Blues were 1-0 up and coasting against an unimpressive Morecambe side that hadn't looked in the least bit threatening and had failed to fashion a single shot on or off target during the whole of the first half.
Dean Morgan had given Wycombe the lead after 22 minutes, and when the same player scored another fine individual goal five minutes after the break it was just what the doctor ordered and gave the ten-men a two goal cushion to defend.
Sadly, some woeful defending allowed Richard Brodie to peg one back after 59 minutes, and the heartbreaking equaliser arrived in the 90th minute courtesy of Jack Redshaw.
The referee's performance had antagonised the Adams Park crowd throughout the game, and when Wycombe put the ball in the net in the sixth minute of stoppage time and he disallowed it, the uproar could only have been surpassed if D'Urso himself had nodded home a late winner for the Shrimps.
A single point is better than nothing, but the pattern of the first half suggested that Wycombe would win this game comfortably, and apart from dropping two valuable points today, their punishment will continue, with top scorer Grant suspended for the next three games.
Manager Gareth Ainsworth made five changes to the side that started at Yeovil on Tuesday. Out went McCoy, Spring, Kewley-Graham, Morias and Azeez, and back came Scowen, Lewis, Grant and McClure. Youngster Kortney Hause was also handed his full debut alongside Dave Winfield, with the full back positions occupied by Dunne on the right and Wood on the left.
As early as the second minute the Blues were threatening the visitors' goal, with Morgan charging down a clearance from Shrimps' keeper Barry Roche and the ball rebounding just past the post.
The early pressure was unrelenting and five minutes later Stuart Lewis crashed a shot against the post and kept his composure to fire the rebound goalwards only to be thwarted by Roche.
A goalmouth scramble after ten minutes saw both McClure and Grant spurn glorious opportunities to turn the ball home.
Wycombe's initial onslaught died down a little after that, but the visitors were unable to make any impression on the game other than to annoy the home fans with their antics.
Constant moaning and diving made Kevin Ellison the villain in chief, and his persistent attempts to persuade D'Urso to book Dave Winfield finally paid off after 20 minutes.
Happily, the resulting free kick to the Shrimps led directly to Wycombe's opening goal, Scowen launching a clearance downfield and a Morecambe defender inadvertently heading it backwards into the path of Morgan 40 yards from goal.
There was still a lot to do, but Morgan executed it perfectly. Controlling the ball in an instant, he set off towards Roche with several defenders on his heels, before slotting it home via the inside of the post.
The Blues poured forward in search of a second goal and Grant had a shot saved before Morgan fired another one over the bar and then scuffed a free-kick wide of the target.
Then came the turning point in the game when Grant and Andrew Wright clashed as they were competing for a loose ball, and Wright rolled around on the turf like he'd been shot. D'Urso had the red card in his hand instantly but waited until Grant had received treatment himself before brandishing it.
The game had seen several bad tempered skirmishes between the players usually with Ellison in the thick of things, and as Grant was being dismissed, the linesman spotted the Morecambe player causing more problems and after a word with D'Urso he was deservedly booked.
In first-half stoppage time, the Shrimps finally ventured forward and the Wycombe defence suffered their first nervous moments before the danger was eventually cleared.
It was a newly-confident Morecambe that came out after the break and a spell of early pressure saw Archer turn Reid's fierce shot round the post.
Then came the best moment of the afternoon when Morgan collected the ball on the right, and making light of the attention of a couple of Morecambe defenders, made a beeline for goal before slotting the ball past substitute keeper Andreas Arestidou.
It was a goal that gave the Adams Park crowd hope that all three points could still be theirs.
With Morgan now up-front on his own and McClure covering Grant's position on the left, the ball wasn't sticking, and the Shrimps were able to mount wave after wave of attack.
Several shots went wide, and Archer saved Ellison's rasping drive, before the dam finally burst in disappointing fashion when a totally unmarked Richard Brodie had all the time in the world to head home a corner kick.
Ellison hit the post, Archer saved from Redshaw, and Brodie had one disallowed for offside as the visitors searched for an equaliser, but Wycombe held firm and almost made it three when Morgan released Andrade whose shot tested Arestidou.
But just when it looked like Wycombe might hold on, a deep cross was nodded back into the danger area where the shortest man on the pitch, Jack Redshaw, headed it home.
The Blues responded by coming out of their shell only to suffer Mr D'Urso's final insult when two Morecambe defenders made a hash of it on the edge of their own penalty area, lost the ball, and clearly fouled Josh Scowen in an attempt to retrieve the situation. In doing so, the ball broke to Bruno Andrade who scored only for the referee to apparently disallow the goal for offside and ignore the offence on Scowen.
The final whistle sounded immediately afterwards to the loudest booing of an official that I can recall in recent years.
Man of the match for me was Dean Morgan whose skill is a delight to watch and whose work rate continues to improve. With his contract about to expire, let's hope an extension is in the pipeline.
Line-up & ratings
Archer (6), Dunne (6), Winfield (6), Hause (6), Wood (7), Grant (5), Lewis (6), Scowen (7), Andrade (6), McClure (5) (McCoy 79 (n/a)), Morgan (8) (Kewley-Graham 90 (n/a))