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Wycombe Wanderers 3
Saturday 2nd May 2015
Football League Two
Wanderers missed out on automatic promotion despite a stoppage winner from Alfie Mawson in a 3-2 victory in the final day clash at Northampton Town. Gareth Ainsworth's side will now meet with Plymouth Argyle in the two legged play-off semi-final for the right to play in the final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 23rd May.
Wycombe started the day in 5th place in the table behind Bury and Southend and there was early hope when news came through that the Essex side were trailing at Morecambe after just 4 minutes. However, Southend equalised on 10 minutes to dampen the spirits of the near 1,000 Wycombe following in the sell-out crowd at Sixfields.
A fairly uneventful game then sprung into life with two Wycombe goals within three minutes. First Aaron Holloway followed in on a Paul Hayes shot on 33 minutes to put Wycombe ahead. Then Nico Yennaris put in a cool finish to double lead and put the pressure on Southend and Bury. Nine minutes into the second-half celebrations broke out in the Wycombe support again when it was heard that Southend had fallen behind again at Morecambe and that Bury were still goalless at relegated Tranmere. That set of scores put Wycombe back into third spot but it was short lived as a 61st minute goal for Bury put The Shakers back into the final automatic promotion spot.
Returning to events at Sixfields, a bizzare own-goal incident on 67 minutes may prove costly in Wycombe's promotion hopes. Sam Wood and Matt Ingram collided when attempting to deal with a ball into the six-yard box. The ball ended in the net and Ingram collapsed needing treatment. The Wycombe 'keeper, ever-present since making his Wanderers debut in March 2013, played on briefly but was replaced on 75 minutes by Alex Lynch, who at 20 years old was making his debut in senior football.
It was a baptism of fire for the youngster but there was little he could do to stop a Ryan Cresswell equaliser on 85 minutes. But Wycombe's 'never say die' attitude carried through to the final whistle and despite hearing that Bury had already beaten Tranmere to secure promotion, Player of the Season Mawson ran through in the 7th minute of stoppage time to snatch the win that lifted Wycombe to 4th place in the table and the prospect of meeting Plymouth in the play-off semi-finals as opposed to Stevenage who will now take on an even more disconsolant Southend side.
For Wanderers, their prospects of a trip to Wembley and promotion will rely heavily on injury news, including what is believed to be a knee injury to Matt Ingram. Plus also whether Brentford, now in the Championship play-offs, allow Sam Saunders and Nico Yennaris to extend their loan deal at Adams Park to include what will be Wycombe's defining games of the 2014/15 campaign.
Full-time - Northampton 2 Wycombe 3
Post match reaction:
Commenting after the game, Gareth Ainsworth said, "We wanted to win the game today. We’re in the ascendency, we’ve got an away win under our belt, it’s not an easy place to come and we can take that with us into next week. I’m looking forward to it. It’s great for the Club. It probably helps the finances more than nicking third place, although if you’d have asked me I’d rather have gone up in third place. We’ve got this now and it’s a great opportunity to upset the form books and achieve something this year." The Wycombe Manager admitted he had an ear on the games involving promotion rivals Bury and Southend, saying: "I knew what was going on and I knew for 20 minutes that we were in third place, and rightly so with 84 points. I don’t think for many a year that 84 points hasn’t been good enough to get promoted. It’s fantastic to win a game, you always want to win and we won today but we’ve ended up in the play-offs. If you’d have said that a year ago, people wouldn’t have believed you." Wanderers final points tally of 84 would also have been enough to gain promotion in each of five previous seasons in League Two. "I think it shows how strong we are – to get as many points as we have. There’s five teams that have really gone to town in the league this season and to be one of those is brilliant. Eighty-four points is a magnificent tally for a team that has really been up against it all year. We’ve got two, maybe three more games to go and I’ll make sure everyone is fit and ready. We’ve got players coming back, we’ve got players returning to fitness, we’ll be strong in the next two games but so will Plymouth Argyle, make no bones about that. We know we’ll be in for a tough challenge and we’ll need a bit of luck to help us overcome that."
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