Double change helps secure comeback win for Blues
Grimsby Town 1-2 Wycombe Wanderers
Wycombe recorded their first victory in seven matches when a fine comeback saw them beat Grimsby Town 2-1 at Blundell Park this afternoon.
Trailing 1-0 at half time, and with six first choice players missing through injury, things looked bleak for the Chairboys but an inspired double substitution by manager Gareth Ainsworth turned the game on its head.
With Dom Gape, Sam Saunders, Paul Hayes, Scott Kashket, Aaron Pierre and Anthony Stewart all missing out through injury, Ainsworth reverted to 4-4-2 and handed the returning Dayle Southwell a recall up front alongside Adebayo Akinfenwa.
The opening ten minutes lacked inspiration with the only opportunities being a snapshot from Garry Thompson that went well over and a sweet strike from distance by Matt Bloomfield that Mariners goalkeeper McKeown clutched high to his right.
Wycombe should have taken the lead on 13 minutes when a free kick deflected to Max Muller at the back post but the centre half got under his effort and he smashed his shot over from point blank range.
Minutes later, the hosts had threatened twice through Calum Dyson and then won a penalty as the dangerous and pacy winger Bolarinwa was needlessly scythed down by Sam Wood who was cautioned for the foul. Dyson stepped up to confidently send Jamal Blackman the wrong way from the spot.
A response was needed and Jacobson`s corner almost curled straight in but McKeown batted the ball away from off the goalline. Wood sent a shot well over and Muller put a header onto the top of the net as Wycombe continued to press with high balls for the remainder of the half but could not find a way through.
Blackman did excellently to deny Town a second goal with two fine back to back saves before a third effort hit the side netting. There were further chances as the Mariners stayed on top throughout the first period - Blackman pushing a cross onto the post before Jones failed to hit the target with the follow up.
In a double change for Wanderers at half time, Luke O'Nien and Paris Cowan-Hall replaced Wood and Thompson and it paid dividends as the pair helped to swing the game back in Wycombe's favour. It also meant a formation switch with Southwell moving out to the left wing and Cowan-Hall on the right of a three pronged attack.
The changes pushed Grimsby back and Southwell skewed an overhead kick harmlessly wide before the same player drove at goal and flashed a cross tantalisingly across the box with Akinfenwa unable to reach and convert in time.
Cowan-Hall was booked for a late tackle on the left touchline and didn't take long to incur the wrath of the Mariners faithful, but the substitute was getting stuck in and was constantly involved as a new found threat for Wycombe in the match.
Grimsby had barely threatened in the second half and the 63rd minute equaliser was probably deserved, but it came about fortuitously for Wanderers. A free kick was headed into the danger area by Akinfenwa and defender Danny Collins shanked over McKeown and into the net for a freak own goal.
Cowan-Hall was a central figure now and saw an effort from distance gathered by McKeown, and to try and stem the tide home manager Marcus Bignot replaced Jamey Osborne with Dominic Vose, who would play a big part in the remainder of the match.
The change didn't help from the outset though as Wycombe led for the first time on 71 minutes. Another free kick was hoisted into the box and punched clear by McKeown who also took out his own defender Gavin Gunning in the process. The defender was down, and as it turned out, knocked out cold but Cowan-Hall played to the whistle and cut inside before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner. The home fans weren't happy but it is the referee's responsibility to stop play.
Luke Maxwell replaced Gunning who went off on a stretcher and striker Adi Yussuf was also turned to as Grimsby finally injected some urgency into their second half play. Vose was their outlet on the left wing and he turned Harriman in knots before shooting straight at Blackman at the near post.
Vose then again showed Harriman a clean pair of heels before firing in a dangerous cross that was eventually hacked to safety by a desperate Wanderers defence.
Set pieces were being launched now as the hosts threw everything forward including their goalkeeper, and Blackman was required to make a fine reaction save from substitute Yussuf, tipping the striker's effort over the bar.
Myles Weston replaced Southwell in stoppage time and the striker was booked as he left the field too slowly for the referee's liking.
Muller went down injured from the resulting corner and Blackman threw the ball out but goalkeeper McKeown charged forward again and instructed his teammates to attack rather than return the ball in what was a poor piece of sportsmanship. Thankfully it came to nothing with goalkeeper McKeown shanking his follow up cross behind for a goal kick - shame.
It was both fitting and deserved therefore that Wanderers saw out the five minutes of stoppage time and the aerial onslaught to record a much-needed win in Cleethorpes.
Ratings: Blackman (8), Harriman (6), Muller (7), De Havilland (6), Jacobson (7), Wood (5) (O'Nien 46' 7), Bloomfield (7), Bean (7), Thompson (5) (Cowan-Hall 46' 8), Southwell (7) (Weston 90+3 N/A), Akinfenwa (7)