Date: 10th February 2018 at 8:59pm
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Exeter City 1-1 Wycombe Wanderers

A stirring second half fightback gave Wycombe Wanderers an important and deserved share of the spoils against Exeter City at St James Park this afternoon.

After a Lloyd James free kick curled all the way in, things looked tricky for the Blues on a sticky surface but the second half reaction was impressive and fully merited the equalising goal which incredibly came from the same source as the heroics from last week, midfielder Marcus Bean.

Gareth Ainsworth made one change to the team that beat Carlisle United so dramatically seven days previously with the suspended Luke O’Nien replaced by Tafari Moore with Dom Gape reverting to central midfield. Elsewhere Scott Kashket pulled out of the squad in the warm up meaning the Chairboys had just six substitutes.

After a quiet opening without any goalscoring chances it was City who seized the lead with the first opportunity of the match. Jayden Stockley went down easily under Bean`s challenge and James’ wicked free kick from the left curled all the way in past Brown without a touch.

It felt as though the opening goal would be crucial on a pudding of a pitch and Wycombe really struggled to impose themselves in the opening period. Things would take another turn for the worse as Dan Scarr went off holding his hamstring and was replaced by Nathan McGinley.

Wycombe were nearly caught out trying to play out from the back on the bobbly surface soon after, with Brown having to punt the ball over the low fence on the far side.

Slowly Wycombe sought a way back into the game with Gape`s cross just too deep for Akinfenwa before Cowan-Hall`s centre was headed wide by Tyson.

After 38 minutes Exeter were close to a second as a long throw was flicked on by Stockley with Tillson just unable to make contact at the far post.

Jordan Storey was then replaced by Craig Woodman after taking a cut to the face as the Grecians saw out their single goal lead into the interval.

After a ponderous first half, Ainsworth presumably tore into his team at the break and it certainly paid dividends.

Almost immediately, Jacobson swung over a cross from the left and after Akinfenwa and Bean had been crowded out, Cowan-Hall tested Kristy Pym in the Exeter goal for the first time with a low shot that was held by the goalkeeper.

There was so much more intent from Wanderers and it was no surprise when they equalised after 53 minutes. The goalscorer was more of a surprise as incredibly Bean, after notching his first goal in 104 appearances last week, made it two in 53 minutes as he stole in to bundle home from 12 yards after Bloomfield had helped the ball on, Akinfenwa had caused havoc and Cowan-Hall had been wiped out in the box.

Wycombe were now the dominant outfit, mixing the long ball to Akinfenwa with some neat intricate moves, and Tafari Moore saw his curling shot pouched by Pym after Akinfenwa had just been denied a clear headed chance by a last ditch Exeter header from a Cowan-Hall cross.

Another outlet for the Chairboys was Nathan Tyson down the left, and he had right back Pierce Sweeney into referee Martin’s notebook for a cynical body check.

Tyson’s pace was causing all sorts of problems and one of his crosses almost fell for Bean but his shot was blocked at source. Another long ball saw Tyson show excellent pace to reach the ball before it crossed the bye-line but no teammate had matched the run as his cut back was cleared.

At the other end the goalmouth action had dried up for the first period of the second half but Exeter slowly hauled themselves back into what was belatedly becoming an exciting spectacle. Brown parried Stockley’s header to safety before Lee Holmes was booked for diving after falling over a sprawling Brown in the box.

Akinfenwa looped a header onto the top of the net from a long Brown kick at the other end as both teams attacked. Ryan Harley replaced the cautioned Holmes and soon after Kyle Edwards replaced Liam McAlinden as Tisdale rolled the dice for the third and final time.

It was a bold move and after Sweeney, also on a yellow, pulled up injured he moved up front for the closing period of the game, presumably to make a nuisance of himself more than anything.

For Wycombe, Craig Mackail-Smith replaced Cowan-Hall with 14 minutes remaining, and there was then a huge sigh of relief as a misplaced El Abd header fell straight to Harley but McGinley, who really grew into the game today, came to the rescue with a crucial block.

After 82 minutes it was almost the moment as Bayo’s flick released Tyson but sandwiched between two defenders, the forward couldn`t gain full control of the ball and Pym rushed out to gratefully claim at his feet.

Nick Freeman replaced Tyson in Ainsworth’s final roll of the dice after 83 minutes. There were no clear chances with only a speculative volley from an Exeter set piece troubling Brown who caught the effort with ease. Freeman was cynically wiped out in injury time by James who was booked and with no further time, referee Martin called time on a breathless second half.

Considering the appalling pitch, this was a great second half showing from the visitors after a disappointing first, and the Chairboys have a well earned point to show for it.

Ratings: Brown (7), Moore (7), El Abd (7), Scarr (N/A) (McGinley 15′ 7), Jacobson (7), Bean (8), Gape (9*), Bloomfield (7), Cowan-Hall (7) (Mackail-Smith 76′ N/A), Akinfenwa (7), Tyson (8) (Freeman 83` N/A)