Town: Jayson Leutwiler, Mickey Demetriou, Jordan Clark (Liam Lawrence, 58), Connor Goldson (c), Jermaine Grandison, James Collins, Ryan Woods, Bobby Grant, Mark Ellis (Scott Vernon, 58), Cameron Gayle, Tyrone Barnett (Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, 58)
Subs: Mark Halstead, Mikael Mandron, Rhys Sharpe, Keith Southern
Wycombe Wanderers: Matt Ingram, Nico Yennaris, Joe Jacobson, Alfie Mawson, Aaron Pierre, Matt Bloomfield, Marcus Bean, Sam Wood, Hogan Ephraim, Paul Hayes (c), Fred Onyedinma (Aaron Holloway, 71)
Subs: Barry Richardson, Sam Saunders, Steven Craig, Peter Murphy, Tommy Fletcher, Danny Rowe
Referee: G. Scott
Assistants: D. Blunden & T. Wood
Fourth Official: I. Rathbone
Attendance: 4,697 )719 from Shrewsbury)
Martin Wild reports from Adams Park
The big promotion clash between Wycombe and Shrewsbury was decided in the home side’s favour inside 40 seconds. Sam Wood’s powerful header ripped into the Town net before they’d had time to break sweat and despite a gutsy second half performance, the visitors came away empty handed and looking nervously over their shoulders as they dropped to third in the table.
Town named an unchanged line-up for the third successive game. There was a welcome return to the subs bench for club captain Liam Lawrence, and also in the squad was yesterday’s loan signing from Derby County, Rhys Sharpe.
Wycombe kicked off attacking towards the noisy away contingent, with Town in change colours and the floodlights on from the off.
Thirty nine seconds into the match the home fans were in dreamland. A probing cross from the right flank was powered into the net by Wood’s bullet header. It was a calamitous start to the game for Shrews who had barely touched the ball. Jayson Leutwiler’s last act against Cambridge had been to pick the ball out of his net. His first touch here was to do exactly the same.
And it needed a slight fingertip save from the big Swiss stopper to deflect Fred Onyedinma’s ferocious shot over the top, in front of the still shell-shocked Salop faithful on eight minutes. The hosts were right at it and the Town were rattled. They needed a spell of possession to calm things down a bit but with 10 minutes on the clock, some players were still awaiting their first touches.
Paul Hayes the Wycombe captain had another chance to add to Wanderers tally with a far post header, but there was Leutwiler to make a timely block at his near post. It led to three successive corners and each one brought hearts-in-mouths moments such was the quality of the deliveries.
Salop hadn’t got their game going at all with Wycombe still looking extremely lively all over the park. Tyrone Barnett attracted the attention of the referee with a mis-timed tackle on halfway on Nico Yennaris. It looked like the type of challenge from a frustrated footballer with Barnett one of many still to settle into the match.
It really was grim to watch with all the purpose and intensity coming from the side in famous quartered shirts. With more than half an hour played, Shrewsbury had offered precious little going forward and their usually rock solid defence were all over the shop. You just prayed that Town could remain in the game ‘til half-time and allow Micky Mellon and his coaching staff to sort things out.
It was 42 minutes before Town had a first goalbound effort, with Barnett’s determination ending with an angled drive that was safely repelled by Wycombe keeper Matt Ingram.
The whistle brought an end to the half with plenty of work needed to turn things around.
Half-Time: Wycombe Wanderers 1 Town 0
Within 90 seconds of the restart a flicked header released Wood but Leutwiler closed down the space so the striker couldn’t lift the ball over him. It was alert goalkeeping by the Town number one or his teammates could have been in big trouble.
A purposeful run by James Collins saw him tie up the left back in knots and it needed an intelligent pass from the Irishman to find colleagues filling the box. But his cross went straight into the arms of Ingram. A minute later, Cameron Gayle’s superb low cross deserved far better than to run along the six yard line. Any Town forward gambling on the ball coming in would have had the very simple task of levelling the match. And then, as Town enjoyed easily their best spell, Gayle curled an effort wide.
Just before the hour, Mellon made a triple change. On came Lawrence (for Jordan Clark), Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro (for Barnett) and Scott Vernon (for Mark Ellis). Within two minutes, Collins almost turned in Lawrence’s cross at the front post as the home side showed some signs of being pregnable.
There were loud shouts for a pen from the away end as JLAA took a tumble but by now, Wycombe knew they were in a game. Town looked unrecognisable from their first half endeavours that were way off the standards required to win football matches. They were hungry, compact, and threatening when in possession, and without question the triple change had invigorated Mellon’s promotion chasers.
Wood had a snapshot from distance which tested Leutwiler with the keeper pushing the ball away from distance and he denied Hayes with a flying save which diverted the piledriver over. With 15 left, Salop were still in the picture with the contest now a bit more even. The Chairboys though still held the lead, and their supporters held heads in hands as Hayes dragged an effort wide when he should at least have been testing Town’s goalie.
Ryan Woods picked up a yellow card for a tackle in the centre of the park – the first caution of the afternoon – and time was beginning to ebb away at the rate of knots, with Wycombe having taken the sting out of the game after Shrews’ obvious improvement after the break.
Two minutes from the end of normal time, sub Aaron Holloway almost scored the goal of the season with an audacious swerving shot with the outside of his right boot. But the ball smacked the face of the crossbar and the yellows survived.
Five minutes of added on time were indicated with Shrewsbury still pressing for an equaliser that would have maintained their position of second in SKY Bet League Two.
There were some nervy moments for Wanderers but they held out to secure a first home win in five matches.
Full-Time: Wycombe Wanderers 1 Town 0