Walsall 2 Wycombe Wanderers 1
The Chairboys handed Walsall a two goal start and despite creating plenty of chances were only able to claw one back.
Manager Gary Waddock had described this as a ‘must win’ game and with the backing of an expectant travelling support, Wycombe started brightly enough – Jon-Paul Pittman taking a clever flick from Stuart Beavon and running the length of the Walsall half before lashing a shot narrowly wide of the post.
The Saddlers have been struggling lately and were also without their top scorer for today’s game. So the last thing Wycombe needed was to concede an early goal and boost their opponents’ fragile confidence, but that’s exactly what happened when Manny Smith headed home a corner after only 7 minutes.
Things got even worse after 20-minutes when Julian Gray curled a 20 yard shot into the Wycombe net for goal number two.
Gareth Ainsworth should have pulled one back after 33 minutes when Beavon cleverly teed him up, but the shot was at a good height for keeper Rene Gilmartin and he duly kept it out.
A brave Matt Bloomfield header gave Pittman another shooting opportunity but Gilmartin was again equal to it, diving at full stretch to make the initial save and then scrambling to safely gather the ball.
Wycombe kept probing and Beavon turned quickly to fire a shot narrowly past the post, before Bloomfield screwed a glorious chance wide of the target as Wycombe tried in vain to claw their way back into the game before half time.
The Second half saw a Bloomfield screamer go just over the crossbar and a Dean Keates free-kick flash invitingly through the crowded box and narrowly past the post, before Wycombe finally did find the net only for Pittman’s effort to be disallowed, the ball having gone out of play earlier in the move.
The Saddlers were now being restricted to breakaway attacks and keeper Tom Heaton had to be on his toes several times to keep the Chairboys in the game.
The goal that gave Wycombe some belated hope was scored by Adam Hinshelwood after 78 minutes when he forced the ball home at the near post while still upfield following a corner-kick.
Ainsworth and Revell both had further efforts on goal and Lewis Montrose hit a superb 25 yard screamer which forced a spectacular save from Gilmartin, but the Chairboys couldn’t find a way to equalise and the game ended with them now teetering on the brink of relegation.
Heaton, Betsy, Hinshelwood, Westwood (Phillips 79), Woodman, Ainsworth, Bloomfield, Keates (Montrose 69), McLeod, Beavon (Revell 60), Pittman.