Bury 1 Wycombe Wanderers 3
It wasn’t quite mission impossible but it was certainly a tough task.
Bury had won six in a row and were aiming to climb to the top of the table by making it seven. They clinched promotion with a 3-2 win at Chesterfield earlier in the week and a bumper crowd of 6,238 turned up at Gigg Lane to celebrate.
Among them were 679 Blues’ fans who travelled north knowing their side had to at least match Shrewsbury’s result in order to retain control of their own promotion challenge.
The Shrews were widely expected to win at Cheltenham and when they scored after only 10 minutes and the Blues went 1-0 down at precisely the same time, the scene was set for what turned out to be a memorable Wycombe performance.
The headlines will concentrate on the goalscorers but it was a magnificent team-effort to come from a goal behind and comprehensively outplay the high-flying Shakers on their own turf.
The second-half performance was particularly impressive. A picture of concentration and determination, the Blues refused to panic and kept coming at the home side in a controlled fashion until they secured the victory they fully deserved. It will be remembered as a benchmark that the team should aspire to every time they take the field.
As usual, there were a sprinkling of crucial saves from Nikki Bull, the pick of the bunch keeping Ryan Lowe at bay when the match was poised at 2-1.
Andy Sandell recovered from a slow start to keep the tricky Kyle Bennett quiet in the second-half. Danny Foster kept his concentration for ninety minutes and gave his best performance so far in a Wycombe shirt. Dave Winfield shrugged off the misfortune of being penalised for Bury’s goal, and along with the magnificent Leon Johnson hardly gave Lowe or Ajose a sniff.
Kevin Betsy was superb. A constant thorn in Bury’s side when the Blues were in need of a goal, he used his experience to keep the ball and calm things down after they took the lead. Only a fine fingertip save from Shakers’ keeper Cameron Belford denied him the goal his performance deserved.
Gareth Ainsworth scored the crucial equaliser that ignited Wycombe’s fightback and also provided the cross for Ben Strevens’ first goal.
Stuart Lewis held things together in midfield with a typically energetic display that included a lung-busting run and cross that set-up Ainsworth’s goal. Scott Donnelly looks a different player now he’s fully-fit and he almost scored with a volley that was just too close to Belford.
Scott Rendell played his heart out. Not really a target-man, he put himself about like one yesterday and his movement kept the Bury defence on its toes throughout the match.
Ben Strevens is often described as a good player who doesn’t score enough goals. That opinion may have to change. Not only did he give his customary 100%, but he also put himself in the the right place at the right time twice, and as a result scored a couple of poacher’s goals that could be so important to Wycombe at the end of the season.
Here’s a run down of the goals…
Bury’s opener came from the spot after Bennett beat Sandell on the right and cut the ball back to Lowe whose shot was blocked by Winfield’s arm. Lowe himself stepped up to send Bull the wrong way and give the Shakers a 1-0 lead after 10 minutes.
The Blues equalised 10 minutes later when Lewis sprinted down the right channel and sent over a pinpoint cross which Ainsworth headed home in style.
Wycombe went in front after 63 minutes when Rendell attempted to convert Ainsworth’s cross at the near post and the ball somehow squirmed through for Strevens to slot home from close range.
The icing on the cake came after 88 minutes when Winfield headed Donnelly’s corner goalwards and Strevens made sure by cleverly turning the ball beyond Belford’s reach.
The whole thing was a joy to watch for a travelling contingent that never lost hope and never stopped singing.
It was a great result. Now they have to do it all over again on Saturday.
Line-up & ratings
Bull (8), Foster (8), Winfield (8), Johnson (9), Sandell (7), Ainsworth (8) (Bloomfield 81 (n/a)), Lewis (8), Donnelly (7), Betsy (9), Rendell (8) (Montrose 85 n/a)), Strevens (9)
Brilliant Blues make it a day to remember
Bury 1 Wycombe Wanderers 3