Barnet 0 Wycombe Wanderers 2
Vital would like to thank Adam Clift for the following report.
A moment of magic from Sam Saunders and a late Joe Jacobson penalty kept Wanderers slim play-off hopes alive.
Gareth Ainsworth made two changes to the side that lost to Mansfield on Friday as Sam Saunders and Paul Hayes replaced Matt Bloomfield and Garry Thompson.
The opening exchanges were pretty even, with Barnet keeper Jamie Stephens clearing in front of Scott Kashket, while Jamal Campbell-Ryce was looking threatening for the hosts.
A Sam Saunders free-kick was punched away by Stephens, but the former Brentford man didn’t have to wait long for his big moment.
Saunders won the ball in the centre-circle, and with Stephens off his line, tried his luck from 40 yards and found the back of the net. It was a goal not too dissimilar to those of David Beckham and Xabi Alonso.
If a moment of magic gave Wanderers the lead, a moment of magic kept them in it just seconds later.
A magnificent double save from Jamal Blackman kept it at 1-0 when Barnet looked certain to score. Blackman has been superb in recent weeks, and this was one of his best moments.
Joe Jacobson then drilled over from 25 yards before a Saunders free-kick was blocked.
The remainder of the half passed by with little incident, as Pierre blocked a header from former Wycombe loanee John Akinde and Luke O’Nien saw a shot deflected wide.
As the second half got underway Barnet looked to claw their way back into the game, with Mauro Vilhete calling Blackman into some early action.
Meanwile, Adebayo Akinfenwa was a threat throughout in the Barnet box, heading just off target on a couple of occasions.
The hosts` full-back Elliot Johnson was also causing a few issues and was stopped well by the excellent Jombati before Pierre blocked another effort.
As Barnet made a sub in an attempt to bring about an equaliser, Gareth Ainsworth replaced Kashket with Nick Freeman.
Curtis Weston then had a shot deflected onto the bar for the home side after Blackman had made a mistake dropping a cross. This was a major let off.
O’Nien and skipper Paul Hayes were then replaced by Matt Bloomfield and Garry Thompson. The veteran Thommo making his 700th professional appearance.
Wanderers were actually playing some nice football when they had the ball. On one occasion, Saunders played it to Akinfenwa who backed into his man, and laid off to Bloomfield who fired over when he probably should’ve hit the target.
With less than ten minutes on the clock Blackman was the hero again.
Spanish winger Ruben Bover hit the inside of the post and the ball somehow bounced to safety, but Blackman had made a crucial and phenomenally good touch to turn it on to the woodwork.
Nick Freeman dragged a decent chance wide before Akinfenwa headed straight at Stephens in a bid to kill the game off.
Then, just before the 90 minutes were up Thompson burst into the box. And for a second season in a row, went softly down to win a late penalty.
Joe Jacobson stepped up, and rifled the ball home to secure a much needed three points.
The League Two table is now ridiculously tight as only three points separate 6th and 13th. Wanderers are definitely still in the hunt, but there may be too many teams between them and the play-offs.
They will need to back this victory up and get their home form back on track, when already promoted Doncaster Rovers visit Adams Park on Saturday in search of the title.
Blackman 8 – World class double save moment after the Saunders goal. Almost cost us one at 1-0 though.
Harriman 6 – Solid performance.
Jombati 8 – Brilliant again at centre back. Starting to think he’s a centre back rather than a full back.
Jacobson 6 – Well taken penalty.
Bean 6 – Did his job.
O’Nien 7 – Brilliant work ethic today.
Saunders 8* – Brilliance for the goal, battled hard in midfield and dictated the game.
Kashket 6 – Pretty quiet.
Akinfenwa 7 – Usual superb self.
Hayes 6 – Put in a shift.
Freeman 6 – Really like his attacking intentions.
Bloomfield 6 – Should’ve killed the game off.
Thompson 6 – Congratulations on 700 appearances and great burst into the box for the penalty.