Morecambe 0-1 Wycombe Wanderers
Wycombe Wanderers made it three wins from three in League Two this season with a hard fought 1-0 win at Morecambe on Tuesday night.
In doing so, the Chairboys continued their record of never having lost at the Globe Arena, winning four and drawing one of their five visits.
Gareth Ainsworth made two changes from the side that won 2-0 at Barnet, with the injured Danny Rowe and de-selected Luke O’Nien replaced by Aaron Holloway and Niall McGinn.
The Blues lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with Hayes, Holloway and Thompson leading the line, and McGinn, Wood and Bean forming a midfield three. Sido Jombati filled in at centre half with Wanderers naming just six substitutes after groin and knee injuries to Rowe and Stewart respectively.
After an opening period befitting of a rugby match, with no quality whatsoever, it was the Chairboys who grabbed the all-important winner in a more enterprising second period.
The first half was drab and dominated by both defences.
On a couple of occasions Morecambe broke into promising positions but debutant Shaun Miller and winger Lee Molyneux both took a poor touch at the crucial moment and the moves died out.
The hosts’ only other effort of note followed a quick counter attack from a Wycombe corner, with Wildig spraying a long ball to Miller who then crossed for the onrushing Wildig, whose flicked header narrowly evaded a Morecambe player steaming in at the far post.
The only other moments of action in front of Matt Ingram in the opening period saw Ellison find the net after being slid in past Harriman by Wildig only for the offside flag to be raised. Dangerous crosses sent deep into the Wycombe box were flicked clear by both Harriman and Pierre but everything was swallowed up by the rock-solid defence and anchoring Marcus Bean in midfield.
For the Chairboys, a long ball game was the order of the day, but it had very limited success and persisting with such a tactic that was clearly not working for so long began to get frustrating.
A swinging cross from the left by Jacobson was tipped away by Roche on the half hour but only as far as Wood who sent a dipping volley goalwards only for it to be headed off the line by Andy Parrish in the nick of time. It was Wycombe’s only shot on target in the first half.
The final chance of the half arrived when Thompson showed muscle and determination to win the ball on the by-line and cut back for the onrushing McGinn who could only scuff a left footed effort wide of the goal.
The second half was much better from both sides.
Immediately more positivity and purpose was on show from Wanderers, with Wood and Harriman combining but the latter’s cross was just too deep for Thompson who couldn’t get the required purchase on his header.
Next, a free kick was flicked up by Hayes for Jacobson to sweetly strike narrowly wide with Roche putting in a despairing dive.
Two free kicks by Molyneux were driven low but straight down the middle and into Ingram`s arms. Hayes then produced a volley from a tight angle which was pouched by Roche at his near post.
Thompson was then booked for wiping out Beeley as tempers began to fray before Molyneux tricked his way down the right, sending in a dangerous cross that was hacked away by Harriman from inside his own six yard box.
Holloway then brushed off a defender before feeding Thompson, who saw a curling shot hammer against the crossbar but the striker had been adjudged offside in any case.
Holloway was growing into the game and intercepted an under-hit throw from Roche but after teeing up Wood the midfielder could only bend an effort into the grateful arms of the Shrimps’ goalkeeper.
Striker Tom Barkhuizen was sent on to try and lift Morecambe`s attack as Ellison moved to a central striker role. The move had some effect, with Barkhuizen seeing a low effort clutched by Ingram before defender Ryan Edwards was mighty close to breaking the deadlock but he could only stab a corner inches wide from close range.
The opening goal eventually arrived from out of nowhere when Jacobson lofted a high free kick to the far post where Pierre beat his man and sent a powerful, towering header across Roche and into the other corner.
On the break, captain Paul Hayes fired two efforts narrowly over as Wycombe enjoyed further chances to double the lead.
The hosts huffed and puffed, but the Chairboys house never looked like being blown down. The centre half pairing of Jombati and Pierre were immense, mopping up clearances, winning their duels and shutting the door on the Morecambe attack. In Jacobson and Harriman, Wycombe could count on two reliable full backs and the protection provided by Bean in the middle was key.
There was the usual slowing of play and Sellers was introduced late on for Holloway who picked up a niggle. Eventually after five minutes of injury time referee Mark Haywood blew his whistle to the delight of the 181 travelling fans.
The night threatened to end with tempers boiling over as the typically unpleasant Ellison and defender Edwards both needlessly tugged at Bean`s dreadlocks in classic sore loser fashion. Jombati and McGinn were visibly furious but Dobson sensibly directed the squad over to the away supporters, who hadn’t stopped singing all night and were superb throughout.
If you are a soft touch you will all too easily be blown away by the power and physicality of teams in League Two, but this Wycombe side does not lay down without a fight, and are often emerging from their battles victorious, despite their tiny squad number. And when it is against Ellison and co, you get that extra bit of satisfaction along the way.
At the end of the night, it was Pierre and Wycombe laughing their way back down the gridlocked M6 celebrating a third consecutive League win and clean sheet from a second battling and bruising game in less than four days.
Next up is bottom side Dagenham and Redbridge at Adams Park on Saturday. Bring it on.
Ingram (7) Solid
Harriman (7) Kept Ellison at bay well
Jombati (8) Faultless covering at centre half
Pierre (9*) Won everything, including his headed winner. Masterclass.
Jacobson (7) Strong as an ox and dangerous set pieces
Bean (8) Effervescent figure breaking up play
McGinn (7) Reliable in possession but quiet at times
Wood (6) Struggled to get involved but no little effort
Hayes (7) Good link up but lacking a final product
Holloway (7) Put in a shift for the team
Thompson (8) Just how to lead the line.
Subs – Sellers (for Hayes, 88 mins) – N/A