Wycombe Wanderers 2-0 Newport County
Wycombe Wanderers made it six consecutive wins at Adams Park this afternoon with a 2-0 Boxing Day triumph over Newport County.
A goal in each half from strikers Nathan Tyson and Adebayo Akinfenwa was the perfect response to a disappointing 3-2 reverse at Coventy City last week which was the fifth consecutive away trip without a win.
Wycombe are much more formidable at home these days though, and were the better side for the majority of the game, playing some good football at times too.
Gareth Ainsworth made three changes from the Coventry defeat, with Dominic Gape, Eberechi Eze and Paris Cowan-Hall restored to the starting eleven in place of Anthony Stewart, Matt Bloomfield and Craig Mackail-Smith.
The Stewart change was enforced through injury as Gape filled in at right back with Sido Jombati moving inside to centre half, while Bloomfield and Mackail-Smith were named on the bench.
One talking point was a malfunctioning floodlight between the Frank Adams Stand and the away end but thankfully it brightened up in time for the second period otherwise referee Charles Breakspear may have had a difficult decision on his hands.
Wanderers first real chance of the match arrived after 15 minutes and it was a flowing move that ended with the ball being deposited into the Newport net to open the scoring. A delightful goal it was too, the architect being Eze with a delicious defence-splitting backheel into the path of O’Nien who quickly shovelled it wide to Tyson and got clattered for his troubles. Tyson then showed excellent composure to side-step his defender and coolly slot the ball past advancing Newport goalkeeper Joe Day.
Mickey Demetriou was cautioned for his late tackle on O’Nien.
With confidence now flowing for the hosts, O’Nien soon left the Newport defender red faced again with another stunning back heel on the touchline into the path of the onrushing Gape, only for his cross to be cleared.
Newport slowly made their way into the game and fashioned a few opportunities, the first of which saw former West Ham striker Frank Nouble hold the ball up and lay it off for Matty Dolan who fired his effort straight at Scott Brown in the Wycombe goal.
Brown was then called upon to make a second straightforward stop from a Nouble header following a good move down the Wycombe left by the visitors. Gape was then freed again down the other end but the stand-in right back made the wrong decision and his cross-shot was far too close to Day.
As the clock ticked past the half hour mark there was an almighty sigh of relief for the majority of the 4,629 crowd inside the ground as Nouble won a 50-50 with Jacobson on the edge of the area and his cross missed everyone with the ball begging to be touched in at point blank range.
After that Wycombe managed to calm the play down and the only further first half efforts came through Eze after more skilful work, but his powerful shot was held by Day, and lastly from Saunders who sent a free kick comfortably over from a promising position.
A single goal lead was a decent reward for a decent first half performance but you couldn’t help but feel a second goal would be required particularly with a makeshift defence, and that point was emphasised within seconds of the restart as Newport captain Joss Labadie struck the woodwork from distance.
Labadie was soon booked at the other end for tripping Cowan-Hall although referee Breakspear could have played advantage with Gape surging into the box. The free kick was headed behind by Nouble.
Newport then had a spell on top as they desperately sought an equaliser, a crucial moment coming after 54 minutes from a quick counter attack, but as McCoulsky squared for Nouble the day was saved by Joe Jacobson with an excellent tackle just as the striker was poised to shoot from point blank range.
Wycombe were struggling to keep a control of the ball but after a passage of desperate clearances, they eventually regained their composure, with O`Nien and Saunders instrumental in doing so across the midfield. Referee Breakspear, who had been quiet up to this point, then began blotting his copybook with a series of bizarre decisions, the first of which saw Saunders penalised after it seemed he had been impeded as he surged into the box.
Ben Tozer then relieved the pressure by needlessly conceding a corner with an overhit back header and the ball pinballed around the Newport box before being hacked to safety.
If the Saunders decision had been odd, Breakspear then exceeded himself by somehow deciding to yellow card Jacobson after the left back won the ball as cleanly as you could imagine. Wycombe continued ploughing away though and Eze saw a low curling effort that lacked power comfortably saved by Day.
Newport manager Michael Flynn had already replaced Scott Bennett with Robbie Willmott, and with a quarter of the match left, Ainsworth then responded by replacing Eze with Bloomfield.
The impact was immediate, and once again it was the Beast that Wycombe had to thank. Jacobson hoisted in a long ball that Akinfenwa controlled expertly before lashing a volley into the top corner.
It was Akinfenwa’s twelfth goal of a quite excellent season to date and gave Wanderers the cushion they craved.
Gape then cleared a header off the line following a Newport corner and Mackail-Smith replaced Tyson who had been excellent throughout the afternoon.
It was encouraging to see Wycombe continue to attack, and frustration got the better of Labadie as he fouled O’Nien and was given a second caution for his troubles.
The only other events of note were a late Gape effort that was tipped over, the resulting corner neatly tucked home by Bloomfield on the volley but not before referee Breakspear had made another odd decision to blow for full time just as the corner kick was taken.
Breakspear might have denied Bloomfield a rare goal at Adams Park and Wycombe a place in the top three as they trail Lincoln by just a solitary goal, but not many Wanderers fans will have too many complaints after another good home win.
Ratings: Brown (7), Gape (8), Jombati (7), Scarr (7), Jacobson (7), O’Nien (8), Saunders (8*), Eze (7) (Bloomfield 74′ N/A), Cowan-Hall (7) (Freeman 90′ N/A), Akinfenwa (7), Tyson (8) (Mackail-Smith 84′ N/A)