Wycombe Wanderers 1 Preston North End 5
The Chairboys crashed out of the FA Cup as Championship side Preston North End gave them a pasting at Adams Park
Wanderers may have intended to come out all guns blazing as Leatherhead did in the last round, but any chance of that was ruined with less than two minutes on the clock when a Josh Harrop free-kick gave them a mountain to climb.
Gareth Ainworth made three changes to the team that survived a second-half scare to beat Forest Green Rovers on New Year`s Day.
Marcus Bean replaced Dom Gape, who was fit enough to make the bench. Skipper Adam El-Abd was back in place of Will De Havilland, and Nathan Tyson replaced Mackail-Smith.
The big news from a Wycombe point of view was Scott Kashket was back, only on the bench, but his return could be really timely for the remainder of the league season.
Preston meanwhile named a strong starting line-up as they looked to avoid a cup upset.
When Leatherhead visited Adams Park in early December they came out aggressively, ready to cause a cup upset. Wycombe may have done the same, but Sam Saunders gave the ball away within the first minute and Luke O`Nien was forced into a foul on the edge of the area.
Josh Harrop, who scored for Manchester United at Old Trafford on the final day of last season before leaving to play regular football despite being offered a new deal by Jose Mourinho, stepped up and curled one beautifully over the wall, past Scott Brown and into the top corner.
If Wycombe had intended to come out and take the game to Preston, that plan was already over.
Preston continued to look threatening, with Callum Robinson unlucky not to get on the end of a dangerous through ball.
Ainsworth applauded the visiting supporters who sung his name. He used to play for Preston, as anyone would know from both his pre and post-match interviews.
Things didn`t improve for the hosts as Bean and Dan Scarr left the ball to each other, and Scott Brown was called upon to deny Harrop.
It was one way traffic, Robinson shooting over and El-Abd making a brilliant tackle to stop new signing Billy Bodin who joined PNE from Bristol Rovers this week.
Declan Rudd was eventually called into action, although any of us could`ve saved what was a tame volley from Matt Bloomfield. Nick Freeman then fired one over the bar before Brown did brilliantly again to deny Robinson.
Then with half an hour on the clock Wycombe began to work their way into the game slightly. Their best move so far led to Akinfenwa chesting the ball down for Nick Freeman whose shot was deflected wide.
Freeman then skipped past his man down the right and crossed for Akinfenwa only for the big man`s header back across goal to slip narrowly wide. This was better, and suddenly it felt like a cup tie.
This feeling was short lived though. A dangerous low cross was cleared brilliantly by Jacobson but it only fell to Alan Browne who hit a sweet left footed volley past Brown.
For all their dominance and deserved lead, it was two wonder goals that gave Preston the lead.
Yet, a minute before half-time it was game on. Marcus Bean took a legal throw, having made two foul throws previously, Freeman found O`Nien and the midfielder`s deflected effort flew past Rudd to reduce the deficit at the interval.
Ainsworth introduced De Havilland at half-time in place of Sam Saunders who presumably was injured.
De Havilland played at right-back with Bean pushing into midfield. This presumably meant that Gape wasn`t fit enough to play as he remained sat on the bench.
If the O`Nien goal had given Wycombe hope, it was short lived. Daryl Horgan slipped past De Havilland before shooting. It was deflected off the hapless defender and past Brown. This as good as ended the tie with Preston beginning to dominate again.
Then, with 20 minutes remaining the highlight of the afternoon arrived. When the news came out just before 2pm that Kashket was back, it excited all Wycombe fans. He replaced Bloomfield and the famous “Scotty Kashket scores another goal” rang out. This game may`ve been over, but he was fit again and on the Adams Park pitch for the first time since scoring the winner against Cambridge last May.
Brown was on hand to keep the score down yet again before a Preston cross came in and referee Peter Bankes adjudged Scarr to have pulled Horgan and awarded a penalty.
Browne stepped up and fired above the dive of Brown to double his tally for the afternoon and make it 4-1.
Preston strengthened further as Daniel Johnson and Paul Gallagher came on, as Ainsworth introduced Cowan-Hall for Jacobson. This meant the hosts switching to 3-5-2 with Nathan Tyson at left wing-back.
There was still enough time for Harrop to add his second and Preston`s fifth with a fine header after an excellent move from the visitors.
An acrobatic Kashket attempt almost made for a dream return but in truth it was comfortable for Rudd as the game petered out into a very comfortable win for the visitors who progress into Round Four.
Wycombe can now focus solely on their remaining 20 league games beginning with the old enemy Colchester United next Saturday. The U`s missing the chance to go above Wanderers this afternoon with a 4-1 loss at home to Cheltenham.
A win for Coventry against Premier League opposition Stoke City means the planned league encounter between the Chairboys and Sky Blues on 27th January has been postponed, giving Wanderers some extra rest ahead of their visit to Kenilworth Road three days later to face Luton.
Hopefully today`s thrashing won`t affect the confidence of the Wycombe side ahead of next week`s match.
Brown 6 – He kept the score down.
Bean 4 – Fourth choice right-back admittedly, but at his age to not be able to take a throw on is embarrassing.
Scarr 5 – Okay.
El-Abd 5 Wrong game to come back to, but good to have him back ahead the league schedule.
Jacobson 5 – His brilliant defending before their second was a rare glimmer.
O`Nien 7 – Best player yet again. For the last month he`s been a class above.
Saunders 4 – A simple sloppy pass set the tone and we never recovered.
Bloomfield 4 – It took me thirty minutes to realise he was on the pitch.
Freeman 5 – Could never get into the game.
Akinfenwa 5 – Marshalled well by Preston.
Tyson 5 – Pretty anonymous but put in two deliveries that were better than we`ve seen from Jacobson in recent weeks.
De Havilland 4 – Not the most convincing centre-back, and certainly not the most convincing right-back.
Kashket 6 – The one positive from today was him on the pitch. Barely touched the ball though.
Impressive Preston give Wanderers a pasting
Wycombe Wanderers 1 Preston North End 5