Wycombe Wanderers 2 Stockport County 0
First half goals from Lewis Montrose and Scott Rendell were enough to give the Blues all three points and condemn County to their ninth consecutive away defeat.
The visitors will consider themselves unfortunate to have gone in 2-0 down at half-time, but after a much improved second-half performance where they did everything but score, Wycombe fully deserved to win.
Keeper Nikki Bull made an early save to thwart Anthony Elding and the Blues took full advantage of the respite by opening the scoring after only ten minutes.
Gareth Ainsworth’s free-kick hit the wall but the veteran winger was on the rebound like a flash and his tantalising cross from the right was lashed home by Montrose via the inside of the post.
It was just the start Wycombe were looking for, but rather than impose themselves on the struggling Hatters, they made hard work of the next half-hour and had Bull and the woodwork to thank for preserving their lead.
The Blues’ keeper did well to save a fierce shot from Aaron Brown but the rebound fell to Adam Griffin who was unfortunate to see his low drive strike the foot of the post.
Wycombe had chances of their own, with Stuart Beavon rifling a shot over the bar and Ainsworth doing the same with a header, while Beavon also beat the offside trap but was thwarted by Hatters’ keeper Matt Glennon.
The second goal came from the penalty spot after 41 minutes. Ainsworth and McCoy combined well on the right and after the referee dismissed claims of a handball from McCoy’s initial cross, Griffin was adjudged to have handled a follow-up ball from Ainsworth.
Rendell stepped up to take it and sent the keeper the wrong way to notch up his 8th successful penalty conversion and his 15th goal of the season.
The Blues were much better in the second-half but despite creating numerous chances they failed to increase their lead.
Beavon was excellent again this afternoon and almost got the goal his workrate deserved only to see his shot cleared off the line. Rendell also came close with a couple of efforts, the most notable being a chip which beat the keeper but refused to drop below the crossbar.
Dave Winfield deserves a special mention for winning everything in the air. He was immense, and almost gave himself the opportunity to perform a ‘new dad’ goal-celebration when he headed an Ainsworth corner just over the bar.
Kevin Betsy also had a good game and looked particularly bright when switched to the right-wing in the later stages. He too had a great goalscoring opportunity, but after doing everything right and tying the Stockport defence in knots, he failed to apply the finishing touch.
Substitute Kieran Murtagh made his return to Adams Park having shone during a loan-spell at Woking and the youngster gave an impressive cameo performance, reminiscent of the way he played in pre-season. The Blues may be without the injured Stuart Lewis and Matt Bloomfield, but with players like Murtagh and Montrose waiting in the wings, things are looking good.
Stockport didn’t offer too much after the break but Bull still had to make a decent save from Greg Tansey, and Jordan Rose almost headed home a consolation goal for the Hatters.
Line-up & ratings
Bull (7), McCoy (7), Winfield (7), Johnson (7), Foster (6), Betsy (7), Montrose (7), Donnelly (6) (Scowen 80 (n/a)), Ainsworth (7) (Murtagh 73 (6)), Rendell (6) (Sandell 83 (n/a)), Beavon (7).
Men of the Match – Beavon & Winfield