Crawley Town 2-3 Wycombe Wanderers
Wycombe Wanderers forced their way back into the top three with a hard fought 3-2 win at Crawley Town tonight, the seventh time they have won by that scoreline this season.
Typical of their season, Wycombe shipped a couple of goals but managed to outscore the opposition courtesy of goals from Nathan Tyson, Adebayo Akinfenwa and Sido Jombati.
Gareth Ainsworth made two changes from the team that won at Barnet with Nick Freeman (groin) dropping out of the squad and Craig Mackail-Smith rotated to the bench. In came Marcus Bean and Tyson as Wycombe went with a narrow 4-4-2 diamond. Bean sat at the base with Bloomfield in front of him, O’Nien on the left and Gape on the right.
Backed by an excellent turnout of 496 supporters, Wanderers started on the back foot as Panutche Camara looped a difficult header onto the roof of the net in the opening minute. Apart from that there was very little goalmouth action in the opening twenty minutes until Matt Bloomfield sparked the game to life with a fine break from midfield and a rising shot that travelled narrowly over the bar.
After Bean won a corner with a deflected shot on 24 minutes, it was the Chairboys who drew first blood from the resulting delivery with a premeditated routine.
Fans of Wycombe would have seen this one before as a late run from deep by O’Nien was picked out by a beautifully flighted ball from Joe Jacobson and his shot was turned in from point blank range by Tyson to give Wanderers the lead.
Akinfenwa then sent a header over before referee Graham Horwood harshly elected to caution Tafari Moore for a full blooded challenge where he had every right to go for the ball.
Soon after, the Red Devils equalised from another debatable free kick but there was more slack Wycombe defending on show. Karlan Ahearne-Grant was given far too much time and space to cut inside Moore who had failed to clear his lines and his shot squirmed under Scott Brown who would have expected to do better.
Not to worry though, straight back up the other end Wycombe re-took the lead on 38 minutes as Tyson did excellently to keep a set piece alive and hook a cross back across goal for Akinfenwa to force the ball in.
The game was becoming an open affair now and Enzio Boldewijn was giving Jacobson plenty to think about down the Crawley right, with Wycombe’s left back standing firm on more than one occasion.
The only other event of note came on the verge of the half time whistle as Josh Payne launched himself dangerously with studs raised into O’Nien and should have been dismissed for a cowardly challenge but Horwood bottled it and only showed yellow to the Crawley midfielder.
The second half started with Crawley dominating the majority of possession and happy to play out from the back. There was little in the way of goalscoring opportunities though until a dangerous cross found Jimmy Smith but he handled the ball towards goal and was correctly booked.
Just after the hour Wycombe got the two goal lead they craved with their first chance of the second period. The catalyst was another free kick and Akinfenwa knocking the ball back from the dead-ball line and there was Sido Jombati to bury it into the open net to the joy of the Wycombe fans behind the goal.
Suddenly Wycombe looked comfortable and Ainsworth switched Bloomfield for Curtis Thompson in midfield. Payne, who should have been sent off earlier, followed him off soon after and was replaced by Jordan Roberts with twenty minutes remaining.
It was so nearly 4-1 immediately after following delightful link up play between Akinfenwa and Tyson but after the former found the latter, Tyson’s shot went agonisingly across goal and inches wide.
That would have killed the game off completely and again Wycombe came close on 78 minutes with a technically delightful dipping volley from O’Nien tipped over the bar by Glenn Morris.
With seven minutes left it was game back on again when Jombati overplayed and was robbed on the Crawley left and substitute Roberts drilled in a cross that was hammered home in off the crossbar by Camara.
Jacobson was booked for a cynical foul as the game approached stoppage time and Wycombe managed to eat up some time at the other end as Connolly needlessly tripped Dom Gape who had put in a terrific shift tonight.
O’Nien curled the resulting free kick straight at Morris but was soon defending on the touchline only to be cleaned out by Connolly who earned a second booking for his troubles and was ordered off by Horwood. O’Nien couldn`t continue and was replaced by Mackail-Smith.
Thankfully Wycombe managed to keep the ball pinned near the corner flag, thanks to sterling work from Gape, Mackail-Smith and the immovable frame of Akinfenwa, until Horwood drew proceedings to a close with Wanderers celebrating a crucial win that moves them back into an automatic promotion spot.
Ratings: Brown (6), Moore (6), Jombati (7), El Abd (6), Jacobson (7), O`Nien (8*) (Mackail-Smith 90′ N/A), Gape (8), Bean (7), Bloomfield (7) (Thompson 63′ 6), Tyson (8), Akinfenwa (7)