Wycombe Wanderers 3-2 Crewe Alexandra
Mackail-Smith 29, Harriman 88′, Tyson 90′; Dagnall 42′, 66′
Wycombe Wanderers snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a stunning 3-2 comeback win over Crewe Alexandra at Adams Park tonight.
After deservedly taking the lead through Craig Mackail-Smith, the Blues were pegged back by Chris Dagnall and it looked like the Chairboys had thrown the game away when poor defending allowed Dagnall to complete his brace midway through the second half.
The action was far from done though, and putting the fans through the full gamut of emotions, a pair of scintillating strikes from Michael Harriman and Nathan Tyson won the match in some style for Wanderers.
Gareth Ainsworth made two changes from the side that won 2-1 at Colchester United with Anthony Stewart dropping to the bench and being replaced by Adam El-Abd, while Luke O’Nien missed out through injury with his spot taken by Sam Saunders.
The first half was one that Wycombe controlled but after taking a deserved lead through Mackail-Smith, they threw away the advantage just prior to the interval.
Crewe’s only foray into the Wycombe box in the first half an hour of play came in the opening minutes when El-Abd misjudged a high ball and leant into Chris Dagnall but referee Andy Haines gave the defender the benefit of the doubt.
It was a tame opening to the game, not a sign of things to come, with Eze drilling wide at the near post from the edge of the box before Joe Jacobson forced Ben Garratt into the first save of any note after 13 minutes, seeing his low effort from distance tipped wide for a corner.
A set piece barrage then ensued as Crewe desperately cleared the ball and Eze had another shot deflected behind for another corner. Akinfenwa also saw a header comfortably caught by the visiting goalkeeper while Marcus Bean, who was having an excellent game in midfield, had a shot deflected wide.
A goal was coming and it came on the half hour mark when Akinfenwa flicked on a long ball and Mackail-Smith stole in behind to round goalkeeper Garratt. The striker had the goal at his mercy and put hearts into mouths as he hesitated but the retreating Crewe defender committed and slid in, allowing the striker to simply walk the ball into the net.
Eze and Bean then came to the fore as the half wore on, the former teasing the Crewe defence with some fine footwork and the latter controlling the midfield and dictating play.
Just prior to the interval, the sucker punch came when Crewe played a free kick short, the cross was hooked to the far post and Michael Raynes outjumped Scarr at the back to knock the ball across for Dagnall who had gambled, was left unmarked and had a simple tap in.
The half ended in comical fashion with referee Haines blotting his copybook, failing to award a free kick for a bad foul on Scarr by Bakayogo and then deciding to book Bakayogo after Wycombe put the ball out of play to allow Scarr to recieve treatment.
Then after the full two minutes of stoppage time passed without the ball being in play as Scarr was attended to, the referee bizarrely blew for half time. To compound his errors, Scarr was also incorrectly ordered to leave the field of play.
If the concession of the equaliser wasn’t bad enough, it looked like it was going to be a disastrous evening for the Blues as their profligacy at the start of the second half looked likely to cost them dearly.
The chances flowed in the opening 20 minutes of the second half for Wanderers but they just couldn’t take them.
After a quiet first half, Tyson became a focal attacking point for the Chairboys after the break and he soon had Crewe right back Perry Ng into Haines’ notebook for tugging him back.
It was one way traffic. El Abd headed a chance onto the roof of the net from an early corner, Eze thundered a left footed strike off the crossbar and saw another chance saved low by Garratt, Scarr leant back and fired over from a Jacobson delivery and Akinfenwa had a goalbound header cleared off the line. Mackail-Smith also teed up Akinfenwa for another opportunity but the big man couldn’t sort his feet out and scuffed his effort harmlessly wide.
The frustration was growing with all of the missed chances and referee Haines then incurred the wrath of the home faithful as he elected to caution Mackail-Smith for simulation as he went down in the area after prodding the ball past a Crewe defender.
Frustration turned to disbelief moments later as Crewe somehow took the lead with Dagnall completing his brace. A long ball went unchallenged, allowing Porter a free flick on, and Dagnall made no mistake. Scarr was replaced soon after by Anthony Stewart as he struggled to shake off his earlier knock.
Ainsworth then made his second change with Josh Umerah taking to the field in place of goalscorer Mackail-Smith.
There was a sense of injustice in the air and again the hosts had heads in hands as Harriman’s cross was flicked on by a defender to Tyson at the back post, and despite an excellent first time effort, goalkeeper Garratt managed to push the ball to safety. As the game entered the last ten minutes Nick Freeman then replaced a tiring Sam Saunders.
The introduction of Umerah and Freeman seemed to add another dimension as the Crewe defence looked unsettled and yet another chance was passed up after 84 minutes when Harriman’s deep cross was headed wastefully wide by Akinfenwa. It looked like the game might be up for the Blues but that soon all changed.
Tyson was the architect, collecting the ball from Eze and running at Ng again before cutting back a fine cross to the far post where Harriman did superbly to hit a high bouncing ball with a controlled first time strike that arrowed into the bottom corner. Adams Park erupted in relief.
The Crewe defence looked gutted, Wycombe sensed blood now, and there were still two minutes plus stoppages to find a winner.
The crowd really roared the team on, and when Eze released Tyson in space, the striker bore down on goal before unleashing a ferocious drive that was still rising as it hit the top left hand corner of the net. Adams Park erupted in joy.
As the celebrations died down, Crewe threw on George Cooper for the impressive Callum Ainley but the game was up. Jacobson was cautioned for time wasting and the ball was kept pinned into the corner as the Chairboys saw out the most dramatic of victories.
Ratings: Brown (6), Harriman (7), El Abd (6), Scarr (6) (Stewart 70′ 6), Jacobson (7), Bean (8*), Saunders (6) (Freeman 81′ N/A), Eze (8), Mackail-Smith (7) (Umerah 73′ 6), Akinfenwa (6), Tyson (8)