REPORT: Wycombe v Wanderers

Injury-hit Wanderers suffered more away-day frustration but restored some much-needed pride before leaving Adams Park empty-handed.

After their mid-week FA Cup demise at Stockport County, boss Ian Evatt demanded his side stand up and be counted.

And despite seeing their squad severely depleted they did just that with a performance full of character which merited some reward.

Wanderers showed all the fight and commitment which had been absent at Edgeley Park – recognised by another impressive away following at the end – including a penalty save from the outstanding Joel Dixon.

But despite a number of decent chances they couldn’t make one count as Sam Vokes’ headed 72nd-minute goal was just enough to consign Wanderers to a fourth successive away league loss as Wycombe bounced back from their own shock Cup exit to move within two points of the top of the table.

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With Josh Sheehan and Amadou Bakayoko joining Eoin Doyle, Gethin Jones, Harry Brockbank and long-term absentee Andrew Tutte on the injured list, Wanderers were severely stretched and down to their last 15 fit, senior outfield players.

On the plus side, there was a return for MJ Williams to stiffen the midfield – although sadly his afternoon was to last less than an hour due to a shoulder injury – with Will Aimson and Alex Baptiste starting in the back four.

And the Whites did what they had to early on in standing firm to gain a foothold before beginning to mount a threat through Dapo Afolayan, whose elusive running constantly had the Chairboys on the stretch.

A typical Afolayan burst created an opening for Keiran Lee but on his 400th career appearance he couldn’t make clean contact in front of goal.

And the contest then burst into life in a dramatic few minutes which saw former top-flight striker Vokes hit the inside of a post before Wycombe were awarded a penalty for a trip by Williams on Anis Mehmeti.

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There didn’t look to be much in it but Joel Dixon made sure Wanderers wouldn’t feel too aggrieved as he made a fine save low to his left to keep out Mehmeti’s spot-kick.

It was frantic stuff and with half an hour gone, Wanderers could have been in front themselves.

Lloyd Isgrove’s persistence paid off as he forced the ball through for Afolayan, who got behind the Wycombe defence but couldn’t beat David Stockdale, who was quickly off his line to make a fine smothering save.

And in the final minute of a frenetic first half the Whites again went close on the break when Elias Kachunga crossed for George Thomason, who couldn’t steer the ball goalwards at full stretch.

The pace of Wanderers on the counter-attack – and Afolayan in particular – had Wycombe worried as they looked to avoid a fourth successive home defeat after six straight wins at Adams Park following their relegation from the Championship.

And within a minute of the re-start, Afolayan was again only a whisker away from giving Evatt’s men the lead as he accepted Kachunga’s pass to burst into the box and force another good block out of Stockdale.

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Kachunga was the next to get a sight of goal on the break but dragged his shot wide, minutes after Wanderers’ injury jinx had struck again with a painful looking blow to Williams who was replaced by George Johnston – pressed into service as a holding midfield player.

Wanderers also had to do their share of defending as they resolutely refused to buckle but the goal threat remained at other end with Declan John seeing a shot blocked in front of the vocal travelling fans following more good work from Afolayan.

Crucially, though, Wanderers didn’t make their chances count and with 20 minutes to go the home side broke the deadlock to grab the winner when Vokes met a Jason McCarthy cross with a looping header which dropped just under the bar and into the far corner.

With Dixon then saving well from Brandon Hanlan, Wanderers weren’t out of the contest and it needed a double save from Stockdale to deny Thomason and Lee as the visitors looked for a response.

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Dixon also kept standing firm at the other end and in the seventh minute of added time Kachunga had one final chance to grab a deserved leveller but couldn’t beat Stockdale as Wycombe just held on.

Wanderers: Dixon; Baptiste (Amaechi 81), Santos, Aimson, John; Williams (Johnston 57); Isgrove, Lee, Thomason, Afolayan; Kachunga. Substitutes: Gilks, Delfouneso, Gordon, Henry, Pettifer.

Booked: None

Wycombe: Stockdale; McCarthy, Stewart, Tafazolli, Obita; Wheeler, Thompson, Kaikai (McCleary 61); Mehmeti; Hanlan, Vokes. Substitutes: Przybek, Grimmer, Jacobson, Horgan, Akinfenwa, Pendlebury.

Booked: Tafazolli, Stockdale.

Referee: David Rock

Attendance: 5,710 (Bolton 1,078)

Read Time: 4 mins