Date: 17th January 2009 at 9:26pm
Written by:

Wycombe Wanderers saw their lead at the top of League Two reduced to 6 points after losing 1-0 to Grimsby Town at Adams Park this afternoon.

The result marked the end of the Chairboys unbeaten home record and continued their unwanted statistic of never having won a game this season after going a goal behind.

Manager Peter Taylor made 4 changes from the team that beat Bury in their last outing. Tommy Doherty, Scott McGleish, Chris Zebroski and Chris Casement came in for Angelo Balanta, Matt Phillips, Lewwis Spence and Leon Crooks.

Wycombe lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows:


Casement Williamson Johnson(35) Woodman

Zebroski Holt(83) Doherty Bloomfield(46)

Harrold McGleish

Subs: Young Moncur(35) Spence Phillips(83) Balanta(46)

Grimsby started brightly and it didn’t take long to realise that Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro was going to be a thorn in Wycombe’s side. The lively striker almost gave the Mariners the lead as early as the 3rd minute when he narrowly missed converting a Nathan Jarman cross.

Wycombe looked sluggish in comparison to the visitors who seemed first to every loose ball and keen to get forward at every opportunity. They clearly hadn’t come to Adams Park just looking for a draw.

Grimsby’s goal came in the 24th minute and was no more than they deserved having looked the livelier side in the first quarter of the game. A high ball down the left channel was completely misjudged by Mike Williamson leaving the dangerous Akpro in the clear. His cross sailed over the Wycombe defence where it was met by Nathan Jarman, whose impressive volley gave Scott Shearer no chance.

The first substitution of the game came as early as the 35th minute when Leon Johnson was injured after apparently clashing heads with team-mate Craig Woodman. TJ Moncur came on to make his first appearance for the club and immediately slotted in at right-back, with fellow debutante Chris Casement moving over to replace Johnson in central defence.

The closest Wycombe came to an equaliser in the first half was a Matt Harrold effort in the 39th minute. A neat move saw Doherty clip the ball to McGleish at the back post and last season’s top scorer cushioned a clever header back across the face of the goal towards Harrold, whose own header went just wide of the post.

That was it for the first half and although Wycombe had woken up a little after going a goal down, Grimsby could go back to their dressing room confident that they were good value for their half-time lead.

The second half started with Angelo Balanta having replaced Matt Bloomfield. The youngster seemed to slot in just behind Matt Harrold with Scott McGleish moving further to the left.

After only two minutes of the second period Grimsby nearly doubled their lead. Two shots from Adam Proudlock were cleared off the line, the first by Scott McGleish and the second by Craig Woodman.

Wycombe’s best chance of the game fell to Scott McGleish in the 57th minute. Chris Zebroski made his way into the Grimsby area from the right-flank before pulling back a cross into the path of McGleish who will be disappointed that he could only steer his shot past the post.

Two minutes later Wycombe had their only shot on target of the whole game. Craig Woodman’s speculative 30 yard strike was well struck but comfortably saved by Mariners’ keeper Phil Barnes.

Grimsby were protecting their lead now but still looked dangerous on the break. Their tackling was getting a bit tasty too and you couldn’t help but feel that the referee was partially to blame for not clamping down earlier in the game.

It was almost all over for Wycombe in the 63rd minute when TJ Moncur’s awful attempt at chesting the ball back to his keeper let Akpro in on goal. Yet again the Chairboys had to rely on a goal-line clearance to keep their hopes alive and this time Chris Casement was the man who provided it with Shearer stranded.

Still Wycombe toiled in their attempt to find an equaliser with Harrold, Balanta and Zebroski all trying their luck, but all yet again off target.

In the 83rd minute Peter Taylor introduced Matt Phillips in place of Gary Holt in a further effort to save the game. However, despite the weight of numbers up front for Wycombe, a well organised Grimsby side stood firm.

Stuart Elliot should have made it two for the Mariners in the 87th minute when his powerful header from a corner went over the bar. That was to prove the last notable action and the game ended with the travelling Grimsby supporters saluting their side’s thoroughly professional performance.

Wycombe made half a dozen good chances today despite not playing at their best and it was poor finishing which cost them their unbeaten home record. The introduction of Balanta at half time gave the Chairboys’ previously predictable build-up play a little more invention, but too many players in blue shirts were having off-days today and few who were watching would begrudge the Mariners their win.

Wycombe have played poorly in several games recently and escaped with a point. Today they didn’t and hopefully that will act as a wake up call and a reminder that promotion is gained on season-long effort and performance, not just the first half of the campaign.

Grimsby didn’t play like relegation candidates and if they keep that form up will surely climb to safety. Organised at the back and dangerous up front, they gave the perfect away performance. Mike Newell is clearly beginning to turn the Mariners’ fortunes around.

Man Of The Match

No one really stood out, but…

Scott McGleish
Looked sharp and worked hard for the team today