Wycombe comeback kills off Leatherhead
Wycombe Wanderers 3-1 Leatherhead
Wycombe Wanderers are in the FA Cup third round draw following a thrilling 3-1 comeback win this afternoon against non-league outfit Leatherhead.
Plying their trade three divisions lower than their hosts, the Tanners gave the Chairboys a first half scare, taking the lead through a Jack Midson penalty only for a superb Sam Saunders free kick to level the scores. As the non-leaguers tired, Craig Mackail-Smith and Adebayo Akinfenwa fired Wanderers into the next round.
Gareth Ainsworth went with the usual 4-3-3 formation, and in the absence of cup tied Eberechi Eze, and with the news that Paris Cowan-Hall hadn't made the squad, the manager brought in Dayle Southwell on the left of the front three. Sam Saunders was also back in the starting line up.
Wycombe fans were boosted by the sight of both Nathan Tyson and Scott Kashket warming up as part of the pre match proceedings.
The other highlight was 1,152 boisterous visiting supporters packing the away end.
The start of the match did not go to plan for Wycombe as Leatherhead gave them a battering to give their fans hope of a major upset.
Referee Tim Robinson seemed just as keen to follow the script, awarding the Tanners a soft seventh minute penalty after an innocuous Sido Jombati shirt tug off the ball.
It was the sort of offence that goes unpunished nine times out of ten, but to the astonishment and confusion of everyone in Adams Park referee Robinson pointed to the spot and harshly cautioned the Wycombe right back.
Jack Midson was the epitome of calmness as he sent Brown the wrong way to send the Leatherhead fans wild.
Immediately afterwards, the visitors had a golden chance to double their advantage as right back Sean Clohessy gave Joe Jacobson the slip but clean through he shot at Brown from a narrowing angle as Wycombe defenders desperately retreated.
The following corner from player-manager Sammy Moore was smacked onto the crossbar by the head of defender Ambroisine as the Wycombe goal led a charmed life with the hosts in shock.
Wycombe slowly began to come into the game, Mackail-Smith hammering one wide of the near post and Akinfenwa planting a looping header onto the roof of the net.
A moment of quality was badly needed for the League side, and it arrived on the half hour mark after Bloomfield was fouled by Moore and the Leatherhead man was booked.
The resulting free kick was curled superbly into the bottom corner by Saunders from fully thirty yards, giving Oualah no chance in goal.
That goal relieved a jittery home crowd, and straight afterwards Southwell found himself in space on the left hand side of the box and forced another save from Oualah.
The remainder of the half then became the Tim Robinson show, as the referee managed to yellow card Southwell, Jacobson and Bloomfield in the space of minutes, much to the chagrin of the Chairboys faithful who were growing increasingly annoyed with the official. Midson's antics played their part as the striker looked to bend every rule in the book.
The second half was controlled by the League Two side as Leatherhead's challenge faded. Saunders shot from the edge of the box but was denied by Oualah before Moore drove one wide at the other end.
Most of the play was now concentrated near the Leatherhead goal, with Southwell denied on the spin and Saunders from another free kick.
Clohessy made his way into Robinson's overused notebook just before the hour for a late challenge on O'Nien, and the Wycombe man nearly gave his side the lead with a late run into the box but hooked his volley just over.
Nick Freeman then replaced Southwell after 62 minutes and this kicked off a period of Wycombe dominance.
First Mackail-Smith's near post shot was deflected into the side netting, before El Abd's header was clawed away as the pressure was piled on.
Leatherhead had barely attacked in the second half but Lee Minshull headed a golden chance over on 66 minutes, a free header six yards out passed up by the Tanners.
They would regret it too as the pressure finally became too much. Bloomfield hooked one over and was denied by a superb last ditch tackle as the relentless attacking continued. Finally, after Saunders had put another chance wide, Wycombe made their dominance count.
As is so often the case, it was the Beast heavily involved. Akinfenwa was the architect this time, turning his man before unleashing a ferocious 20 yard left footed volley that was parried by Oualah but only to the onrushing Mackail-Smith who bundled it home.
The relief was palpable and Wycombe's passage was soon made a little more comfortable as Jacobson coaxed a reaction out of Moore, which earned the Leatherhead player-manager a second caution from card-happy Robinson.
The game was nearly dead soon after, only for Akinfenwa to head a great chance agonisingly wide as substitute Freeman stood up a great cross.
Not to worry though, just as four minutes additional time were signalled, Bloomfield was released in space on the right. He swung in a dream of a cross for Bayo, and in the words of Sam Saunders, the Beast floated like a butterfly and landed like a whale as he powered in a diving header at the far post to bury the Leatherhead dream.
Ratings: Brown (6), Jombati (6), Stewart (6), El Abd (6), Jacobson (6), Bloomfield (7), O'Nien (7), Saunders (8*) (Scarr 84' N/A), Southwell (6) (Freeman 62' 7), Akinfenwa (7), Mackail-Smith (7).