Notts County 0 Wycombe Wanderers 0
The Chairboys remain four points clear of the play-off places after a 0-0 draw at promotion rivals County.
In an even game where neither side really did enough to win, a point keeps Wanderers in pole position after results elsewhere went in their favour.
It was a solid point in the quest for automatic promotion, but Wycombe must now back it up with all three points at home to Grimsby on Monday.
Today`s game started evenly, with neither keeper tested until Terry Hawkridge forced a safe from Brown fifteen minutes into proceedings.
County should have taken the lead half way through the first period when a low cross evaded everyone and former Newcastle man Shola Ameobi had an open goal at the back post.
But Ameobi went with his right foot when he should have gone with his left and could only hit the post, with Brown gratefully jumping on the loose ball.
The referee was having a poor afternoon, and the next two incidents emphasised that.
Joe Jacobson was booked when going for a 50/50 challenge. There was no contact. It was never a booking.
As the rain began to pour, Nathan Tyson slid in and won the ball. The ref gave a free-kick to the hosts which was shocking enough. The yellow card that followed was even more staggering.
County gaffer Kevin Nolan hadn`t been happy with the man in the middle either. He`d already argued one decision and when Ameobi felt he should have had a penalty after Jacobson had won the ball fairly in the box, Nolan stepped over the mark and was sent to the stands, no silly chicken celebration today from the former Bolton, Newcastle and West Ham man.
Sido Jombati had already been down injured but was deemed fit to carry on, and Tafari Moore was the next man down. He clearly wasn`t ok to carry on, and Michael Harriman was introduced for his first appearance since late September.
There`s little doubt that Harriman is our best right-back, but due to a lack of match fitness Ainsworth was unlikely to introduce him at any point today. This forced his hand, and was possibly a blessing in disguise.
In a rare bit of goalmouth action, Wanderers failed to clear a long ball, Jombati won a challenge superbly, but it broke for County and Brown tipped an effort from Matt Tootle over the bar.
The hosts started the second half brightly, and Brown being booked for time wasting was indicative of Wycombe taking the sting out of the game.
A free-kick was half cleared by County and with keeper Adam Collin off his line Harriman tried his luck from distance but missed the target.
Just before the hour mark, Wanderers thought they`d taken the lead. Jacobson`s free-kick found Akinfenwa unmarked at the back post, he knocked it back across and Tyson thought he`d made it 1-0. The flag was up and it was disallowed. He looked onside to me at the time, I may be wrong.
Top scorer Jorge Grant came on for the hosts with half an hour left.
The defences were still on top as Jacobson did brilliantly to stop Tootle before winning a goal-kick off him. Daniel Jones was equally as good up the other end.
Wanderers then began to stamp their authority on the game. Matt Bloomfield dragged a half volley wide, before Sido Jombati headed a corner against the post.
Akinfenwa was beginning to bully the County defence and fired one over after chesting it down.
Seconds later came Wycombe`s best effort of the game. Mackail-Smith put in a beauty of a cross, Akinfenwa met it and Collin did superbly to get down to keep it out, the rebound not quite falling for a burnt orange shirt.
Bloomfield went in bravely as he tried to direct a header goalwards, and a stoppage in play followed as he needed treatment, and a new shirt due to some profuse bleeding.
Scott Brown then made a wonder save from either Jacobson`s header or a Jon Stead handball. Stead was fouling Jacobson, and the ball came off one of them, but with nothing given it was a world class and crucial save.
Paris Cowan-Hall replaced Mackail-Smith just before the 90 minute mark. This was arguably too late for a sub to change the game. Especially as both Scott Kashket and Randell Williams had previously looked set to come on after an hour.
Six minutes of stoppage time were played, during which Ameobi somehow avoided a red card for an elbow on Jacobson. He was however booked, as was the superb Adam El-Abd for his part in the ensuing melee.
The ref ended proceedings to keep promotion well and truly in Wycombe hands. Three points on Monday against Grimsby, and Wanderers will be feeling confident that League One is calling.
Brown 7 – A couple of brilliant saves.
Moore 6 – Could be his season over.
Jombati 6 – Solid.
El-Abd 9 – Absolute warrior. Captain. Leader. Legend.
Jacobson 7 – Good performance.
Bean 5 – Very quiet and poor afternoon for him.
O`Nien 6 – Good to have him back. Probably missed Gape as much as we did Luke last week though.
Bloomfield 6 – Solid shift.
Mackail-Smith 7 – Great shift. And some real quality to go with it. Sensational ball for the Bayo chance late on.
Akinfenwa 6 – So close to a winner. Caused problems.
Tyson 7 – Great shift. Got the winner as well, but for the linesman.
Harriman 6 – Rusty but great to have him back.