Wycombe Wanderers 2 Cheltenham Town 1
The Blues won for the seventh time in their last eight league games to close the gap on table-toppers Chesterfield and do the double over a Robins’ side who were unbeaten in their last eight games on the road.
The performance was worthy of more than a one-goal margin, but in typical fashion, Wycombe kept their fans on the edge of their seats until the final whistle.
The first-half saw Cheltenham’s Jeff Golding squander an early chance before the Blues settled down and began to take control of the game.
Gareth Ainsworth and Stuart Beavon both made good runs to the bye-line only for their crosses to flash across the face of goal with no-one able to apply the finishing touch.
The Blues were trying to keep the ball down and pass it, while the Robins’ game-plan seemed to consist of knocking long balls over the top for Wesley Thomas to chase or shooting from distance.
The opening goal was scored after 29 minutes when Ben Strevens bundled the ball home at the far post after Matt Bloomfield’s corner-kick had been nodded on by Alan Bennett.
Strevens had another chance shortly afterwards but could only head Ainsworth’s cross into the keeper’s hands, while Beavon came even closer when he cut inside and unleashed a curling shot which narrowly cleared the crossbar.
Blues’ keeper Nikki Bull was called into action to save a rasping drive from David Bird, but Wycombe were good value for their half-time lead.
Bloomfield instigated a lovely passing move at the start of the second-half but when it culminated in an inch-perfect cross he blotted his copybook by missing the target altogether with his header.
The two-goal cushion everyone was hoping for arrived after 55 minutes when Bloomfield chased a lost cause near the corner flag and hooked the ball back to Kevin Betsy whose cross was volleyed home with venom by the evergreen Gareth Ainsworth.
Before the crowd had time to relax Cheltenham pulled one back when another long-ball found Thomas who somehow squeezed it home at Bull’s near-post despite the close attention of Chris Westwood.
The Robins were back in the game, but despite their best efforts they couldn’t find an equaliser. Bull comfortably fielded a few more long-range efforts and proved his worth yet again with a fine double save at the feet of Thomas.
The Blues’ best efforts came from Betsy – who cut inside and fired a shot into the side netting – and Beavon, who curled one over the bar.
It was another nerve-wracking end to the game, but yet again Wycombe collected all three points to make it 21 out of a possible 24 in their last eight league games which is a tremendous effort.
For me, the stand-out performers were Marvin McCoy, Stuart Lewis, Ben Strevens, Gareth Ainsworth and Stuart Beavon.
Man of the Match
Bull, McCoy, Bennett, Westwood, Foster, Ainsworth (Montrose 79), Bloomfield (Donnelly 89), Lewis, Betsy (Straker 86), Strevens, Beavon.