Wycombe win yet another thriller
Wycombe Wanderers 3-2 Swindon Town
Wycombe Wanderers cemented their spot in the automatic promotion places with another thrilling victory, this time against Swindon Town at Adams Park.
For the thirteenth time already in this breathtaking season of entertainment, there were 5 or more goals in a game involving the Chairboys as Wanderers recovered from conceding a goal in the opening two minutes from Marc Richards to win a remarkable match 3-2 courtesy of a late header from the colossal Adebayo Akinfenwa.
Gareth Ainsworth made two changes from the team that drew 1-1 at Exeter City on Saturday with Luke O'Nien restored to midfield after his one match suspension in place of Matt Bloomfield. The other change saw Nathan Tyson rotated to the substitute's bench despite an impressive performance at the weekend with Craig Mackail-Smith given a chance to start in the front three.
Unbeaten in the league in 2018, there was a huge sense of hope and optimism around the Chairboys support ahead of kick off, reflected in the crowd of 4,863 which was the highest at Adams Park for a midweek game in more than six years.
That optimism threatened to be extinguished with less than two minutes on the clock as Swindon took the lead from the very first chance of the match.
A cross was hoisted to the back post where Tafari Moore was outjumped and despite Scott Brown parrying the initial headed effort, the loose ball fell straight to striker Marc Richards who promptly buried the ball into the bottom corner to give the Robins a dream start to a huge roar from the 1,012 visiting fans.
Any fear that the early setback would deflate Wycombe was expelled within a minute, Akinfenwa delightfully laying off a long punt into the path of O'Nien who strode onto the loose ball and hammered it first time into the bottom left hand corner giving Reece Charles-Cook no chance in the Swindon goal.
It was an electric start and there was no let up with Paris Cowan-Hall central to Wycombe's early attacking threat, one move down the right almost ending in Olly Lancashire turning the ball into his own net. The resulting corner saw Dan Scarr's header go straight at Charles-Cook.
After just ten minutes however it was Wanderers turning the game completely on its head and again it was Cowan-Hall who was the chief instigator.
Seizing on a loose ball, Cowan-Hall drove one on one with Charles-Cook before unselfishly squaring the ball to the unmarked Mackail-Smith who had the simple task of rolling the ball into the bottom corner of the net to send the Chairboys fans wild.
The attacking pressure and end-to-end nature of the game continued unabated, with Luke Norris hooking an effort over on the spin for Swindon before Cowan-Hall sent another effort well over the crossbar from distance after another lay off from that man Akinfenwa.
There was no chance to catch your breath and Swindon continued to look a danger at the other end, with Timi Elsnick sending a shot well over the bar from 25 yards while Matt Taylor came off better in a 50-50 with Moore and saw his driven effort blocked by a sprawling Wycombe defence.
Mackail-Smith was another forward thinking player having an excellent game for Wanderers, and he had two efforts in the space of as many minutes around the half hour mark. The first saw the striker drive to the byline before forcing a save from Charles-Cook at his near post before the second and better chance arrived soon after. Moore's cross was delicious, Akinfenwa's knock down was perfect and Mackail-Smith's shot was blocked by Charles-Cook who did well to close down the angle.
After 37 minutes the ball was back up the other end from a long kick and after Scarr totally misjudged his header, Keshi Anderson was clean through on goal but he never looked confident and got the ball caught up in his feet, dragging his left footed effort wide when he really should have scored.
That was a major let off for Wycombe who were glad to see out their slender lead into the break.
Within two minutes of the restart with no changes made by either side, Swindon were inches from a leveller as a cross from left back Taylor was finger tipped by Brown, just over the head of the onrushing Richards with the striker poised to score from point blank range.
There was no time to pause in this thrilling encounter though, and next Akinfenwa was muscling his way past three or four defenders before seeing his shot blocked from close range. The effervescent striker then headed a long free kick from Brown wide of goal.
David Flitcroft then made his first change of the match with Kaiyne Woolery brought on in place of Anderson. Soon after the Robins should have been level again but a corner was headed wide by a totally unmarked Norris who could have done far better.
Typical of this match though, as soon as a chance went begging at one end, the action went straight up the other and majestic work from Cowan-Hall saw the attacker dig out the perfect cross for Akinfenwa who headed over with the goal at his mercy to the despair of the Wycombe fans who were willing it in for a two goal cushion.
The single goal lead never felt like enough at that point, but the equaliser on the hour mark from Matt Taylor was one Wycombe could do little about.
Nit-pickers might point out the lack of a defensive wall and Brown being beaten from distance, but the bullet of a left footed free kick from fully thirty yards by Taylor was stunning and would have graced any level of football.
For ten minutes or so the game then entered into a slight lull, with both sets of supporters presumably grateful for a breather.
Another big chance for Town on 69 minutes went begging as substitute Woolery outmuscled El Abd before sending a lobbed effort onto the roof of the net with Brown stranded.
The last twenty minutes saw both teams go route one in search of victory which led to another thrilling close to a Wycombe match with both sides chasing that all important winning goal. Norris was correctly booked for a late tackle on O'Nien on 72 and it wasn't the first time the Wycombe midfielder had been clattered.
Ainsworth then showed his hand for the first time, taking off the impressive Cowan-Hall for Tyson after 74 minutes.
Two minutes later the ball was in the net, to the naked eye perfectly legally as Akinfenwa headed in a brilliant cross from Marcus Bean on the right hand side, but referee Andy Madley somehow decided there was a foul involved and chalked it off to the dismay of everyone associated with the Wanderers. It was a very harsh call from Madley who to be fair had refereed the game excellently up until that point.
Wycombe continued to go long and press for a winner though, a rebound falling to Dom Gape after 83 minutes on the edge of the box but his sweet strike was right down the midriff of Charles-Cook.
Immediately afterwards, excellent work and pace from Tyson saw him dig out a sumptuous cross from the left but Akinfenwa could only direct his header wide with the goal again at his mercy. O'Nien then sent a shot wildly over from distance as the Chairboys continued to press.
You just can't keep a good man down though, and the incredibly determined Akinfenwa, clearly feeling wronged following the earlier disallowed goal, soon had the Adams Park crowd on their feet again.
89 minutes had elapsed when a Jacobson corner ran deep and was picked up by Gape on the touchline. Gape sent a hanging cross back over and with Charles-Cook coming out into no-man's-land there was Akinfenwa to power home a header to restore the Chairboys' lead.
Wycombe then looked to play for time as O'Nien and Mackail-Smith went down with injuries, the latter replaced by Nick Freeman in stoppage time. The final action saw Tyson sent clean through but the substitute could only clip his effort wide with only Charles-Cook to beat.
That was full time though, and for the sixth time this season Wycombe had won 3-2, beating a promotion rival at the same time.
Pause for breath and then fasten your seatbelts - there will no doubt be plenty more thrills to come.
Ratings: Brown (6), Moore (7), Scarr (6), El-Abd (7), Jacobson (6), O'Nien (8), Gape (7), Bean (8), Cowan-Hall (8) (Tyson 74' N/A), Akinfenwa (9*), Mackail-Smith (8) (Freeman 90' N/A)