Date: 31st January 2009 at 8:35pm
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Wycombe Wanderers came from behind to win for the first time this season with a Matt Harrold goal in the 79th minute giving the Chairboys a 2-1 victory over a lively Accrington Stanley side.

Manager Peter Taylor made one change from the side that drew at Macclesfield Town on Tuesday evening with Angelo Balanta reclaiming his place at the expense of Scott McGleish.

The Chairboys lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows:


Casement McCracken Johnson Woodman

Phillips(68) Holt Doherty Zebroski

Harrold(89) Balanta(68)

Subs: Young Oliver Mousinho(89) Ashton(68) McGleish(68)

The good news is that Wycombe recorded a much-needed win after only taking one point from the last three games.

The not so good news is that it was another ugly performance from the Chairboys and all three points is probably more than they deserved on the balance of play.

The first half was only five minutes old when Stanley gave notice that they weren’t there just to make up the numbers. A Paul Mullin effort was on it’s way in until Tommy Doherty somehow managed to deflect it onto the woodwork from his position on the goalline.

Five minutes later and Stanley were at it again. This time it was a Phil Edwards’ shot going wide of the post when he could easily have opened the scoring.

Wycombe had a half chance in the 13th minute when a long ball was contested by Matt Phillips and Stanley keeper Kenny Arthur who had come a long way out of his box. Phillips looked favourite to get there first but appeared to back-out of the challenge at the last second, allowing Arthur to clear the ball.

Accrington opened the scoring after 15 minutes. David McCracken came off second best in a challenge with Mullin on the edge of the box and the Stanley striker took full advantage by hooking a shot over the head of Wycombe keeper Scott Shearer whose positioning was questionable.

It was no more than Stanley deserved. They had an extra man in central midfield and they were making it count. On-loan from Everton, the Accrington number 23 John Paul Kissock was causing all sorts of problems as he popped-up all over the pitch orchestrating Stanley’s play.

Wycombe’s equaliser in the 23rd minute came from their best move of the first half. Chris Zebroski and Chris Casement linked up well on the right flank with Zebroski’s perfectly timed pass releasing the overlapping Casement for a run towards goal. The full back’s ball in was low and hard across the face of the goal and could well have been prodded home by a Wycombe forward if Stanley defender Colin Murdock hadn’t beaten them to it by knocking it into his own net.

There wasn’t much to chose between the two sides for the remainder of the first half but it was Wycombe who came closest to scoring again after 40 minutes. The ball dropped to Angelo Balanta on the edge of the box and his shot took a wicked deflection which would have dropped just under the crossbar if Arthur hadn’t scrambled back to tip it over for a corner.

Stanley came out for the second half clearly believing they could win the game. They seemed the sharper side and were closing Wycombe down quickly all over the pitch. When they were on the offensive Stanley did it in numbers with five or six red shirts pouring forward in waves at the first scent of an attacking opportunity.

Meanwhile, Wycombe’s primary game plan seemed to be passing the ball around in their own half before inevitably pumping a long ball forward to Matt Harrold, with plan-B being to feed Zebroski or Phillips on the wings in the hope that a decent cross might be forthcoming.

Phillips has much potential and can cause problems for full backs but his end product still leaves a lot to be desired. He did however put in a teasing cross to the near post on the hour-mark with Angelo Balanta attacking the ball and flicking it just wide of the post.

As the half wore on you felt that either side could have nicked it and as that old familiar tension crept into the pit of your stomach, you just prayed it wouldn’t be Accrington.

After 62 minutes Balanta had another chance to give Wycombe the lead. A long ball to Harrold was flicked on and Balanta raced into the box in pursuit but by the time he got there, the angle was difficult and his fierce shot was off target.

Peter Taylor made a double substitution after 68 minutes. McGleish came on for Balanta and Nathan Ashton was given yet another opportunity to make an impression when he replaced Matt Phillips.

Ashton’s overall contribution may not have impressed the watching fans but it was his well taken set-piece which brought about the breakthrough. His perfectly weighted free-kick from the right evaded the Stanley defence and allowed Matt Harrold to charge in at the back post and head the ball home.

Stanley weren’t giving up though and surged forward in search of an equaliser. A James Ryan shot was blocked after 86 minutes and two minutes later a Kieran Charnock header flew just over the bar.

Wycombe made a late substitution with John Mousinho coming on for Matt Harrold in the 89th minute. This left McGleish alone up front and allowed Stanley to release more men up field in search of the equaliser which made for a nervous last few minutes for the Wycombe fans.

The final whistle went to a cheer of relief from the home fans.

It was end-to-end stuff at times and if I was a neutral I might have even enjoyed it. But as a Wycombe fan, it was too close for comfort.

Accrington were surprisingly good given their poor away record and lowly position in the league. The energetic Kissock is a great loan signing for them and I wish we had him.

With Wycombe’s closest rivals all winning today and some of them doing it in style, this was a very important victory for the Chairboys and no doubt they don’t care how they got the points as long as they got them.

However, from a spectator’s point of view things are not what they were. The defence looked shaky at times and no amount of spin will convince Wycombe fans that losing Mike Williamson is of little consequence to our promotion hopes.

Earlier in the season we had a mixture of energy and steadiness in central midfield. With the 4-4-2 formation featuring Holt and Doherty we just have the steadiness.

Up front, Harrold, Balanta and McGleish will all score goals if they get the service. At the moment they’re not getting it and signing a new striker won’t solve that.

Man Of The Match

Craig Woodman

Solid in defence and getting better going forward.


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