Town 0 Wycombe Wanderers 0
Town: Jayson Leutwiler, Mickey Demetriou, Liam Lawrence, Connor Goldson (c), Nathaniel Knight-Percival, Josh Passley, James Collins, Ryan Woods, Scott Vernon (Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, 80), Bobby Grant (Andy Mangan, 86), Mark Ellis
Subs not used: Mark Halstead, Ashley Vincent, Jordan Clark, Jermaine Grandison, Anthony Griffith
Wycombe Wanderers: Matthew Ingram, Sido Jombati, Joe Jacobson, Josh Scowen, Aaron Pierre, Paris Cowan-Hall, Stuart Lewis, Matt Bloomfield (c) (Peter Murphy, 89), Fred Onyedinma (Sam Wood, 69), Aaron Holloway (Steven Craig, 72), Alfie Mawson
Subs not used: Barry Richardson
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Assistants: Simon Beck & Andrew Garratt
Fourth Official: Chris Sarginson
Attendance: 7,239 (475 from Wycombe)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Wycombe Wanderers became only the second team this season to leave Shrewsbury with a point. They joined Newport County in managing to shut out
Town at Fortress Greenhous in a tightly contested match. But although Salop managed to find the back of the net twice, they were left frustrated as both were chalked off by the raised flag of a linesman. They go into the new year in top spot in League Two with half of the campaign completed.
Town remained unchanged from the side that took all three points from the Kassam Stadium on Boxing Day. Second placed Wycombe were able to name just four substitutes for their trip to the Greenhous.
There was a really healthy crowd inside the Greenhous for this top of the table clash officiated by top Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg. I was a bright but chilly day with the floodlights already illuminating the scene as Town kicked off attacking the South Stand end of the stadium.
Town began well with plenty of pressure put on the Wanderers’ back line and if James Collins had managed to keep his fifth minute shot down, they might have been off to the perfect start.
Mark Ellis was the recipient of the games first caution when he upended Paris Cowan-Hall on the quarter hour, and there was no further punishment as former Town defender Joe Jacobson was unusually wayward with his free-kick attempt.
Both sides looked dangerous going forward and the pitch looked like it might play a part in proceedings too with several players losing their footing in the early exchanges. It was a tense affair with Wycombe working hard to interrupt the fluency of Town’s normal passing style. Chances at both ends were few and far between with little between the sides on the evidence of the first thirty minutes of the game.
It was down the left flanks in particular that saw the best of the action, with Jacobson for the away side and Mickey Demetriou for Town both getting telling deliveries in from the channels. But both defences were offering excellent protection to their respective goalkeepers who were both waiting to make a first save of any note.
Connor Goldson saw a volley blocked off as the hosts forced a couple of quickfire corners, and both sides had muted appeals for a penalty turned down also in quick succession.
Collins did well to dispossess Alfie Mawson two minutes before the break and was away and he intelligently picked out Scott Vernon right on the 18 yard line. But he was crudely upended by Jacobson who was rightly booked. Skipper Liam Lawrence got the ball over the assembled wall but it was too high and Mathew Ingram again wasn’t troubled.
Matt Bloomfield became the third player cautioned when he dropped Ryan Woods in full flow as Town countered quickly, and Clattenburg – having applied an excellent advantage – booked the Chairboys captain when the ball eventually went dead.
Half-Time: Town 0 Wycombe Wanderers 0
Collins sliced well wide from outside the box at the resumption but needed to keep their concentration to defend a couple of early Wycombe corners. Then Vernon had his first sight of goal but couldn’t direct his header on target.
Gareth Ainsworth’s side deserve at least some credit for coming to the Greenhous with attacking intentions of their own. They were defensively solid but hadn’t in any way shape or form, come to park the proverbial bus. As a consequence it was a fascinating encounter, between two sides sure to figure in the promotion picture come May.
Demetriou fired over as Town pressed but it was still very much even stevens. Goldson went on a mazy dribble midway through the half but there was no end product with goalmouth action still very much at a premium.
Ellis did finally work Ingram to force a corner and although NKP turned the ball home, Clattenburg’s whistle soon cut short the celebrations in the home sections of the Greenhous Meadow.
Ten minutes from time Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro was introduced in favour of Vernon who had barely had a sniff with a well-marshalled away defence working hard to keep out the
Shrewsbury goal threat. Five minutes later came the chance that Town had waited so long for. Grant was picked out by Collins in space at the far post and when the midfielder worked the ball back on to his favoured left foot, gasps of expectation filled the night air. But Grant was leaning back and the end result was disappointment all round. It was to be Grant’s last contribution with Andy Mangan sent on to try and sniff out a late winner.
There was to be late drama but a linesman’s flag would save Wycombe’s skin for a second time just as the Meadow looked set to erupt. Mangan’s close range header was kept out by Ingram and although the substitute smashed home the rebound, he was denied by the official on the near touchline.
Full-Time: Town 0 Wycombe Wanderers 0