Wycombe Wanderers 1-1 Cambridge United
Wycombe Wanderers dropped two points in the League Two promotion race as a stoppage time equaliser from Paul Lewis gave the U’s a draw at Adams Park this afternoon, cancelling out Adebayo Akinfenwa’s first half header.
Gareth Ainsworth made one change to the side that lost at home to Coventry City eleven days ago, Matt Bloomfield restored to the team with Marcus Bean dropped to the bench.
There also turned out to be a switch in formation, with a 4-3-1-2 formation seeing Paris Cowan-Hall play in behind a strike pairing of Akinfenwa and Nathan Tyson. Elsewhere, Scott Kashket returned to the substitutes bench.
The first half was pretty dismal, littered with injury stoppages.
The only early action of note was neat play on the right hand side after just two minutes with Luke O’Nien releasing Tafari Moore. The Arsenal youngster’s cross was dangerous but Tyson could only flick the header away from goal from point blank range.
The first injury then arrived after 10 minutes when a thunderous volley from O’Nien that looked goalbound struck George Maris square in the face, and after initially shaking off the impact Maris had to leave the field after 18 minutes, replaced by Lewis.
In between, Adam El Abd was also in the wars and had to be patched up after a stray arm from Jabo Ibehre, who avoided any punishment from referee Nick Kinseley.
With both sets of supporters yearning for some goalmouth action, Tyson eventually fired a shot in anger wide on 31 minutes after racing onto an Akinfenwa flick but his shot went across goal to safety.
Straight up the other end, Cambridge suddenly came to life and Scott Brown had to be alert to deny Deegan before O’Neil hit the loose ball over from a presentable position.
After Ibehre was finally booked by Kinseley for persistent fouling, nine minutes were added on to the first half.
Wanderers took the lead in the fourth of those nine minutes – and it wasn’t subtle in its design. A long punt by Brown saw David Forde initially look to leave his line before hesitating, and Akinfenwa stole in to glance a header beyond the goalkeeper to give Wycombe a priceless interval lead.
After an uneventful first period, the second half was a totally different affair with both sides coming out fired up. United were nearly level within 60 seconds but Gape bravely flung himself in front of a goalbound header from Lewis to divert it wide for a corner.
Next up was O’Nien with another brave block on the edge of the box as the visitors poured forward.
After ten minutes of almost constant pressure from the visitors, Wycombe then gained a stranglehold on the match and began creating chances at the other end, Dan Scarr seeing a looping header tipped over by Forde.
After an hour had elapsed, Joe Jacobson, who was much improved today, had to be replaced by Nathan McGinley who filled in at left back. Cambridge right back Brad Halliday immediately cut inside him across the box and saw a low left-footed shot fly narrowly wide.
The game was far more end-to-end now and O’Nien broke into the right hand side of the box before seeing his powerful cross hacked onto the inside of his own post by a U’s defender with the ball bouncing agonisingly to safety.
With Wycombe creating more now, Tyson`s pace drew him to the byline and his cut back was perfect for Akinfenwa who hit his shot straight at Forde who blocked it with his legs.
Billy Waters was booked for dissent immediately afterwards having contested a challenge by O’Nien that was deemed fair by the referee. Joe Dunne then substituted Waters with Medy Elito taking his place. The game remained very open and a quick free kick from Bloomfield released Cowan-Hall who curled one wide.
Elito soon had McGinley tied up in knots on the Wycombe left before delivering a teasing cross that was nodded back across goal and scambled to safety by a desperate Wycombe defence. The resulting corner saw David Amoo get his header all wrong, directing it away from goal when he was unmarked at the front post. O’Nien hit one wide with his left foot at the other end.
As Cambridge poured forward, George Taft drilled narrowly wide after another bout of penalty box pinball and Ainsworth attempted to freshen things up after 85 minutes with Nick Freeman replacing Cowan-Hall, who had put in a shift today.
Bloomfield broke into the box and fired in a cross begging for a touch that went through everyone, and on 88 minutes, O’Nien hammered a shot on target, again straight at Forde, and you wondered if the missed chances might be a source of regret.
To be honest, this wasn’t a bad second half performance by any means and it should have been a 1-0 gritty win for Wycombe, but in the third of six minutes stoppage time that all changed. A long punt from Forde was flicked on, Ikpeazu wanted the ball more than a hesitant McGinley and in stole Lewis to easily drill home a late equaliser. It was a very costly decision not to attack the ball.
Ainsworth immediately substituted the tireless Bloomfield for Kashket, who was straight into the action but curled his shot well over after cutting back into the box. One wonders what he might have done with a bit more time to make an impact.
Referee Kinseley then drew proceedings to a close as the Wycombe fans were left to ponder ‘what might have been.’ With ten games to go, they sit in fourth position with 63 points, trailing Notts County in third place by two points with a game in hand.
Ratings: Brown (7), Moore (7), El Abd (8), Scarr (7), Jacobson (7) (McGinley 60′ 5), Gape (8), O’Nien (8), Bloomfield (8*) (Kashket 90′ N/A), Cowan-Hall (7) (Freeman 85′ N/A), Akinfenwa (7), Tyson (7)