Blues Pull Off The Great Escape
Torquay United 0-3 Wycombe Wanderers (Wood 6', Craig pen 42', McClure 62')
Wycombe somehow survived the drop in improbable circumstances this afternoon after a 3-0 win at Torquay was coupled with a 1-0 defeat for Bristol Rovers at home to Mansfield.
Wycombe Wanderers is a club that means so much to so many people. 929 Chairboys made the long journey down to Devon more in hope than expectation. The M5 was a sea of light and dark blue scarves, shirts and flags as cars and coaches joined in convoy to support their team, come what may.
What relegation may have meant for the club will be speculated upon for some time, and the recriminations into a depressing campaign will begin in the coming days as the dust settles. However, this incredible sequence of events really could totally change the future outlook for Wycombe Wanderers.
The requirement to survive relegation to non-league was simple. The Blues had to win and hope that either Northampton Town or Bristol Rovers lost their home fixtures.
Winning games has been no easy feat for the Wanderers over recent months, but you wouldn't have known it as the players shrugged off the pressure and strolled to a convincing win.
Gareth Ainsworth made possibly the best decision he has made all season this afternoon, moving Sam Wood up to left wing to provide some genuine width in the midfield. Aaron Pierre filled in admirably at left back, while Leon Johnson and Anthony Stewart oozed class at centre half.
Wycombe started like a house on fire and were ahead after just five minutes. Matt Bloomfield`s cross found Wood at the far post, and after initially mis-kicking the first opportunity, he hammered home the rebound to send the Wanderers fans wild.
The news that Oxford had opened the scoring at Northampton doubled the enthusiasm in the packed-out visiting section. However, you could hear a pin drop soon after, as Oxford had a player sent off and Northampton proceeded to equalise and then score again to effectively kill one hope of Wycombe's unlikely route to survival.
There were more scares to come in front of the Barmy Army but Wood cleared a Krystian Pearce header off the line and then sensationally recovered to deny Elliot Benyon with an heroic last ditch clearance from the dangerous Courtney Cameron's deep cross.
Wood was in the thick of all the action, and his long range effort struck the post before Steven Craig spurned a gift to give the Wanderers a two goal cushion by shooting wide of an open goal from the rebound.
Matt McClure chased everything this afternoon and one such lost cause saw the little striker retrieve possession on the left wing before making a beeline for the box. He was tripped by Gulls defender Anthony O'Connor and Wycombe had a penalty.
Craig took the opportunity to redeem himself by calmly slotting the spot kick into the bottom right corner with Rice diving the wrong way.
News had by this point filtered through that Mansfield had taken the lead at Bristol Rovers to further increase the hopes of the travelling supporters.
The second half was just four minutes old when O'Connor cynically felled Craig and was given his marching orders by referee Craig Pawson for a second bookable offence.
McClure sealed a comfortable win and an excellent personal performance by getting the wrong side of Pearce just after the hour mark and taking advantage of a weak backward header to cooly lob Rice.
The tension in the remaining minutes became unbearable as it became known that Bristol Rovers had hit the post, the bar, and seen a goal disallowed against Mansfield. All anyone could do was sing, shout and pray!
Eventually, the full time whistle at the Memorial Stadium was met by an almighty roar and euphoric scenes as the final whistle then blew seconds later at Plainmoor. The Super Stags had won and Wycombe had kept their side of the bargain to complete The Great Escape.
It was an unforgettable afternoon for those 929 travelling supporters who never stopped believing and never stopped singing in support of the club they all love so dearly.
Ratings: Ingram (7), Rowe (8), Johnson (7), Stewart (7), Pierre (8), Bloomfield (7), Lewis (8), Scowen (8), Wood (9*), McClure (9), Craig (7) (Morias 84' (N/A)).
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