Hartlepool United 0 Wycombe Wanderers 2
Vital would like to thank Adam Clift for the following report.
The Chairboys climbed closer to the play-off race with a 2-0 win over the Monkey Hangers thanks to goals from Adebayo Akinfenwa and Paris Cowan-Hall.
A late Cowan-Hall red card put a dampener on the afternoon, and he’ll now serve a one match ban.
Blues` boss Gareth Ainsworth made two changes to the side that drew with Plymouth in midweek. Will De Havilland and Sam Saunders coming in for Max Muller and Marcus Bean.
Wanderers started brightly with a Harriman cross finding Myles Weston whose cutback was intercepted.
Weston was a threat throughout and always got the better of his man. Hopefully he can stay fit and we see the best of him between now and the end of the season.
Lewis Allesandra then fired one over for the hosts before a Saunders free-kick went wide at the other end.
However the impressive start from Wycombe was rewarded with the opening goal, and it was one of their best this season.
Akinfenwa found Weston who played it first-time to Southwell. He also hit it first time back to the Beast who brought the ball down and fired it past Joe Fryer. It was brilliant football, and a deserved lead.
Bayo went down after the goal, but thankfully was able to carry on.
Luke O’Nien picked up a booking when he prevented a Pools` break, and moments later Max Muller had to replace Pierre who pulled up with an injury. Hopefully Aaron isn’t out for too long.
Hartlepool then got back into the game and Wes Thomas was the main threat.
He fired over from distance before De Havilland did well to cut a low cross out at the expense of a corner.
Another long range Pool shot went over and Wanderers saw the game out until half-time, to go in with a 1-0 lead.
The hosts came out all guns blazing in the second period, Brad Walker firing over and Alessandra firing wide.
But Wycombe grew back into it, with a Harriman cross finding Weston whose header was saved by Fryer, and a left-footed volley from O’Nien flying wide from 25 yards.
Akinfenwa was then replaced by Cowan-Hall, presumably due to the injury he picked up in the first half. Southwell moved to the centre of the front three.
Once Bayo went off, the ball was on the floor a lot more. Saunders grew into the game, Gape showed his class, and Weston was useful on the wing. You can’t drop Bayo after everything he’s done, but we played more aesthetically pleasing stuff without him.
Southwell, who looked much more comfortable in a central position, had an effort from 25 yards tipped over. As did Gape moments later with a shot that was destined for the top corner.
Jamal Blackman, who came and claimed every long ball today, saved really well from Harrison, and from the resulting corner the ball was cleared.
An accidental Cowan-Hall handball got him booked, as Pool looked for a leveller.
Garry Thompson then replaced Southwell who had worked tirelessly, as Wanderers looked to secure the three points.
A Cowan-Hall overhead kick went just over when O’Nien was better positioned to fire home, but eventually the goal to end the contest arrived
Another nice Wanderers move saw the ball find substitute Thompson. He was body-checked by his man, appeals for a free-kick fell on deaf ears but Weston won a corner.
The corner was never cleared, and when Gape played a brilliant pass to Cowan-Hall, he shrugged off his man and fired past Fryer to make it 2-0.
This killed the game off, but when Paris got involved in an altercation with Harrison it ruined the afternoon slightly.
Both players should’ve probably been sent off from what I saw, but Paris received a second yellow, whilst Harrison escaped unpunished.
However, it was a 2-0 and the gap to play-offs narrowed to three points, four if you account for goal difference.
Next up is another side near the bottom, as Notts County visit Adams Park next Saturday.
Blackman 7, Harriman 6, De Havilland 6, Pierre 6 (Muller 6), Jacobson 6, Gape 8*, O’Nien 6, Saunders 7, Southwell 7 (Cowan-Hall 6), Akinfenwa 7 (Thompson n/a), Weston 7
Blues beat Pools to stay in contention
Hartlepool United 0 Wycombe Wanderers 2