Port Vale 2-3 Wycombe Wanderers
The Chairboys registered their first league win of the season at the second attempt with an excellent 3-2 win at Port Vale.
It was a near flawless performance for 88 minutes as the visitors racked up three goals in a stunning opening 25 minute spell and remained by far the better team throughout until two late goals made it a needlessly nervy end for Gareth Ainsworth’s side and the 293 visiting supporters.
Ainsworth made one change from the opening league match with Paris Cowan-Hall replacing Dayle Southwell, meaning the 4-3-3 formation remained intact.
It was the perfect start for Wanderers when a long free kick from Joe Jacobson after just two minutes was superbly headed into the bottom corner by Adebayo Akinfenwa with Vale goalkeeper Sam Hornby rooted to his line.
It could have been two after 9 minutes when Vale conceded another pointless free kick on the edge of their own area but Saunders’ effort was a fraction too high and landed on the roof of the net. Worry not though, the next attack saw the Chairboys double their lead and this was a fine team goal.
After tenaciously winning possession back, Saunders traded passes with Gape and O’Nien before releasing Cowan-Hall on the left with a great reverse switch. Cowan-Hall cut inside Lawrie Wilson and curled an unstoppable right footed effort into the far corner past Hornby.
Vale Park has a particularly wide pitch and Wycombe were making full use of it. Noticeably both Tyson and Cowan-Hall were easier to hit and accordingly they had far more opportunity to get on the ball and harass the Vale full backs.
Cowan-Hall was again in the clear just minutes later, but this time he could only shoot tamely at Hornby with his right foot in a one on one situation that he might have done better with.
O’Nien sent a left footed effort well wide before Cowan-Hall left the field after just 23 minutes after feeling his hamstring tighten, the goalscorer replaced by Southwell. He had made quite an impact during his short stay however.
Moments after the change, Wanderers incredibly led by three goals as a Jacobson corner found O’Nien steaming in with a late run at the back post. The midfielder’s volley was heading miles off target but thankfully it landed right on the head of Akinfenwa who powered an unstoppable header past the keeper.
There were further chances for the visitors; Tyson seeing a couple of efforts blocked and O’Nien testing Hornby as the Chairboys threatened to run riot. Vale, who had conceded far too many cheap fouls, weren’t at the races at all and a weak header from Nathan Smith into the hands of Scott Brown was all they could manage before they were booed off at the interval.
The second half appeared to be petering out with little to speak of except for a yellow card awarded to goalkeeper Brown for timewasting, and a routine save for Hornby from a swerving effort by Saunders.
Southwell, who had put in a typically industrious shift, was then denied a first goal of the season from a fine free kick, his effort saved low down by Hornby. Shortly afterwards Saunders was replaced by Bloomfield.
The midfield trio of Gape, O’Nien and Saunders had been superb all afternoon, tenacious in the tackle, good in possession of the ball and clearly winning the midfield battle. The exit of Saunders seemed to signal that Wycombe were more than happy with what they had, and it nearly cost them.
You wouldn’t have guessed it though. Akinfenwa had a couple more headed chances, the second of which was mistimed and represented a decent chance for a first hat trick in the Quarters. Bloomfield then had a poor effort that totally lacked power before Tyson was replaced by Freeman with ten minutes remaining.
It wasn’t until very late on that the Blues were punished, their sloppiness proving costly after 88 minutes when right back Wilson was given time to swing in a cross for the unmarked Dan Turner to direct a free header past a static Brown.
It was then panic stations less than 60 seconds later when substitute Ben Whitfield skinned El Abd, and with Jacobson out of position the winger cut in and lashed a powerful strike through Brown and in off the crossbar. It was an excellent goal by the Bournemouth loanee but soft from a Wycombe perspective.
Suddenly what was left of the earlier beleaguered home crowd sensed the most unlikely of comebacks but Wanderers managed to waste a few minutes in the corner. Southwell should also have put the game to bed but saw his one on one shot saved by Hornby. Vale launched the ball forward one final time but Smith’s header lacked any power and that was that.
Wycombe saw out the victory that they certainly deserved but almost made a hash of.
Ratings: Brown (6), Harriman (6), Jombati (7), El Abd (7), Jacobson (8), O`Nien (8), Gape (8), Saunders (8) (Bloomfield 68` 5), Tyson (7) (Freeman 80` N/A), Akinfenwa (8), Cowan-Hall (7) (Southwell 23` 7)
Akinfenwa brace helps earn Blues win at Vale
Port Vale 2-3 Wycombe Wanderers