Wycombe Wanderers 2-1 Doncaster Rovers
Wycombe Wanderers further boosted their play-off hopes with an excellent 2-1 win over promoted Doncaster Rovers at Adams Park this afternoon.
A brace from midfielder Luke O’Nien and a resilient defensive performance was enough to move the Chairboys up to 9th place, just one point away from the play-off positions in an incredibly congested table.
Gareth Ainsworth made one change from the side that won 2-0 at Barnet with Matt Bloomfield returning to captain the side, Paul Hayes the player to make way.
It also meant a switch in formation, with 4-3-3 abandoned in favour of a narrow 4-4-2 diamond formation, with Marcus Bean in the holding midfield position and Sam Saunders sitting behind the front pair of Scott Kashket and Adebayo Akinfenwa.
With the visitors arriving intent on playing a passing game, what broke out was a thoroughly entertaining match where Wycombe really had to earn their victory, and did so with an excellent show of character epitomised by Ainsworth’s full time celebrations.
The first attempt on goal came after 6 minutes when Doncaster’s Tommy Rowe cut in from the right and saw his shot saved low down by Blackman. Wycombe’s opening effort came almost immediately after, and it was Saunders attempting a repeat of his Barnet wonder goal with the goalkeeper off his line, but this time his effort was over the bar.
Wanderers didn’t have to wait long to break the deadlock though. Jacobson’s long throw on 9 minutes found Akinfenwa who crashed a header off the crossbar, with O’Nien stooping to head home the rebound from a couple of yards out.
Donny were straight back on the attack but Rowe’s low cross from the right was bravely claimed by Blackman, before a tidy move almost found Saunders in space on the edge of the box but his effort was blocked to safety.
The visitors equalised in fortuitous fashion after 17 minutes when the dangerous Alfie May’s cross took a cruel deflection off the boot of Sido Jombati and sailed over the helpless head of Blackman and into the far bottom corner.
Jacobson was then harshly penalised with a yellow card for allegedly kicking the ball away before Rowe sent a header wide and Marquis blasted off target as Rovers looked to take a stranglehold on the game. They were nearly in front on 26 minutes as a purple patch for the visitors ended in Rowe hitting the outside of the post after a fluent passing move.
Doncaster were looking increasingly dangerous with Blackman on hand to make another save from a May effort that lacked power before out of nowhere Wycombe regained the lead.
It was the same trio involved – this time a long free kick from Jacobson finding Akinfenwa to control for O’Nien who ran onto the ball and smashed a first time effort into the bottom corner.
Mathieu Baudry was booked for a late challenge soon after and goalscorer May had to be replaced by Gary McSheffrey. It was a real blessing for the Chairboys as May looked by far the most potent threat for the visitors.
After 43 minutes Wycombe nearly had a third after a delightful diagonal cross from Saunders found Akinfenwa but the striker could only head over the bar under pressure.
It was poised for an open and nailbiting second half, but a superb defensive performance full of grit and determination from the Chairboys denied Rovers any real chances to get back into the game.
The first sign of a chance in the second period came through another delightful touch from Akinfenwa but his shot was blocked after he powered towards goal.
The combative midfield play of Marcus Bean and tireless energy from the other midfielders was a real strength today and Darren Ferguson was forced into a second change to try and wrestle back control with right back Alcock replaced by Taylor-Sinclair in an attacking move on the hour mark.
Centre half Butler was booked for taking out Kashket soon after, and was slightly fortunate to only see yellow as the striker looked to be in the clear. The resulting free kick from Jombati didn’t make it past the wall. James Coppinger was then substituted for Mandeville in the visitors’ final throw of the dice on 66 minutes.
There was a scare after 74 minutes when Saunders dallied too long on the ball in a dangerous area and Marquis shifted it to Rowe but the shot lacked power and Blackman blocked with his legs; the loose ball scrambled to safety.
Tired legs saw both Kashket, and soon after Saunders, replaced by Thompson and Gape respectively. Both substitutes put in impressive cameos, with Thompson’s energy winning some valuable set pieces, and Gape particularly unlucky not to score after 87 minutes with a fantastic shot that came cannoning back off the woodwork.
Referee Horwood managed to find six minutes of added time to increase the tension, but after Marquis shot wide there were no further chances as Wycombe’s impressive and determined rearguard remained intact as it had done for the whole second half.
It was a crucial three points which hauls the Chairboys to within a point of the play-offs. Gareth Ainsworth’s side have the momentum, so get to Morecambe if you can and see what happens.
Ratings: Blackman (7), Harriman (7), Pierre (8), Jombati (8), Jacobson (8), Bean (8*), O’Nien (8), Bloomfield (7), Saunders (8) (Gape 82′), Kashket (7) (Thompson 77′), Akinfenwa (7)
O’Nien brace seals vital win for Wycombe
Wycombe Wanderers 2-1 Doncaster Rovers