Date:Saturday October 12 2013
Wycombe Wanderers 3 Torquay United 2
The Blues had to come from behind twice before Paris Cowan-Hall clinched all three points with a 77th minute winner that capped an improved second-half display from the hosts.
It was a Wycombe performance of peaks and troughs, the first half almost entirely a trough.
Manager Gareth Ainsworth picked the same side that started the fine victory over Bristol City on Tuesday, but that's where the comparison ended.
The flowing football, accurate passing and penetrative attacking moves of midweek were replaced by a lack of creativity, careless loss of possession and costly mistakes in important areas.
Trailing 2-1 at half-time after a performance that offered little in the way of hope, the second-half comeback was commendable.
The first half gloom forgotten, the home crowd were treated to an entertaining final 45 minutes that could have gone either way, as Torquay continued to make a game of it, with former Wycombe loanee Ade Azeez always a danger.
But, good, bad or ugly, it's points that count and Ainsworth's men banked all three to rise to 9th in the table, just two points adrift of the play-off places and four points behind Oxford who occupy the final automatic spot. Early days of course, but it's good to stay in touch!
The first notable action saw Azeez waltz between two Wycombe defenders only for his dangerous ball across the face of goal to be scrambled clear by Anthony Stewart.
The Gulls should have taken the lead when a fiercely hit cross from Tom Cruise went right through the Wycombe defence and found Karl Hawley unmarked in front of goal only for the number nine to stab his reaction shot over the crossbar.
After 27 minutes the visitors did take the lead when another cross from the left travelled unhindered to the back post where Sam Wood's decision-making let him down and instead of clearing the danger, the left back's first touch teed the ball up nicely for Azeez to rifle it home.
One down and not playing well, optimism was in short supply in the crowd, but within a minute Wycombe were back on level terms when Jo Kuffour was blatantly hauled back in the box by Krystian Pearce but somehow kept his feet to slot the ball past Gulls' keeper Martin Rice. Had Kuffour gone down, Torquay might have been playing the remainder of the game with ten men, but we might have missed the penalty. So well done Jo!
Any hope that the shock of conceding and the relief of an instant equaliser would spark the Wanderers into life, was sadly misplaced.
Pearce should have bagged the Gulls' second when he was left totally unmarked at the back post and headed a corner wide when it looked easier to score. It was a sign of things to come.
For their part, Wycombe's best move of the half culminated in Knott chipping the ball over the Gulls' defence and Cowan-Hall firing a fine first-time shot inches wide of the post with Rice beaten.
Torquay made it 2-1 after 37 minutes when Pearce headed the ball home from a set piece after a catalogue of errors from the Blues. It started with a comedic loss of possession from Arnold in the lead up to the corner and ended with a less than convincing effort from Matt Ingram to come and claim it.
The Blues could have been two goals behind at the break had Damon Lathorpe's long distance volley not cleared the crossbar by a whisker.
It was a poor first-half display and the Adams Park faithful could only pin their hopes on Ainsworth's ability to drag a decent second-half performance out of his side, a side that beat City on Tuesday, but a side that's still without three important strikers in Morgan, Craig and McClure.
The second half was a different kettle of fish for the home fans, and even a neutral would have found the game entertaining.
Just eight minutes after the restart, a great turn and cross from Matt Bloomfield was headed home at the back post by Cowan-Hall to level the match and set the scene for an end-to-end thriller.
Pearce nearly put the Gulls back in front with yet another header from a corner, but Wood was standing directly under the crossbar at the back post and headed the ball off the line.
We often hear Ainsworth saying that the team pride themselves on their defending at set plays. On recent evidence, it still needs work.
But Wycombe were so much better going forward after the break and Knott fired a rasping drive narrowly wide before Cowan-Hall saw another fierce effort saved by Rice.
Even Anthony Stewart had a goalbound shot kept out by the Gulls' keeper as the Blues probed for a third goal.
But within seconds, former Chairboy Elliot Benyon had a shot blocked at the other end and the impressive Azeez was in the thick of things again to head the resulting corner just over the bar.
Back to the Valley end, and this time it was substitute Jon-Paul Pittman who saw his fierce drive tipped over the bar by Rice.
From the resulting corner Stewart somehow contrived to plant a free header past the post and you wondered if that was the golden opportunity we would ultimately regret missing.
But man of the match Cowan-Hall had other ideas, and when his glancing header from a Scowen corner found the top corner of the net after 77 minutes the ground erupted.
The Blues were on fire now, but rather than go for a fourth goal, Ainsworth took the more pragmatic approach of replacing Cowan-Hall with midfielder Matt Spring after 81 minutes in an attempt to hold the lead.
It worked, and The Blues were able to celebrate their first league victory in four games, a result that was just what the doctor ordered ahead of difficult away games at Bristol Rovers and Portsmouth in the next ten days.
Line-up & ratings
Ingram (6), Arnold (5), Stewart (6), Hause (6), Wood (6), Scowen (7), Lewis (6), Knott (6), Bloomfield (6) (Kretzschmar 75 (n/a)), Cowan-Hall (8) (Spring 81 (n/a)), Kuffour (6) (Pittman 61 (6))
Date:Saturday October 12 2013
The Opposition View - Preston (Saturday December 7 2013)
Blues slip quietly out of the cup (Saturday December 7 2013)
Stats: Wycombe Wanderers v Preston North End (Saturday December 7 2013)
FA Cup Preview: Wycombe v Preston (Friday December 6 2013)
The Opposition View - Portsmouth (Thursday December 5 2013)
For Whom The Bell Tolls (Thursday December 5 2013)
Stats: Portsmouth v Wycombe Wanderers (Thursday December 5 2013)
Preview: Portsmouth v Wycombe Wanderers (Tuesday December 3 2013)
The Opposition View - Dagenham (Sunday December 1 2013)
A Dagger To The Heart (Saturday November 30 2013)
|Dag & Red||2||-||0||Wycombe|
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