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Wycombe Wanderers 1
Aston Villa 1
Saturday 9th January 2016
FA Cup Third Round
Wanderers went into the Fourth Round draw of the FA Cup after a 1-1 draw with Premiership strugglers Aston Villa. In front of a 'sold out' but still well under capacity Adams Park, Wanderers responded after going behind to a 22nd minute goal from Villa Captain Micah Richards. The equaliser came on 50 minutes after Ashley Westwood was adjudged to have impeded Matt Bloomfield on the right edge of the box - referee Michael Oliver pointing to the spot and Joe Jacobson dispatching the kick into the left side of the Valley End net. Sam Wood could have given Wycombe the lead a minute later but Gareth Ainsworth's side survived a brief spell of Villa pressure and will now travel to Villa Park in a replay provisionally set for Tuesday 19th January.
The tie, shown live on BT Sport with a 12.45pm kick-off, saw Gareth Ainsworth make two changes to the side that had lost at home to Morecambe seven days previous - the enforced change of Alex Lynch coming in to replace the suspended Matt Ingram in goal, plus Aaron Amadi-Holloway being preferred up front to Max Kreztschmar. 46 year old goalkeeping coach Barry Richardson was named on the bench for Wanderers having never appeared in a competitive First Team game for Wycombe and with a last competitive appearance dating back to November 2005 with Doncaster Rovers.
Meanwhile, Premiership strugglers Villa made six changes to their side that lost 3-1 at Sunderland the previous week. A result that had seen them firmly rooted to the foot of the table with 8 points from the opening 20 games and without a League win since the opening day of the 2015/16 season when they won at Bournemouth.
On a surface made more slippery due to a pre-match downpour, it was clear from the start that Wanderers best chance of causing a cup upset would come from set-pieces. As early as the 4th minute Wycombe forced a corner on the right that Jacobson swung in to the far post only for Garry Thompson to poke just wide of the left hand upright. Villa did show a glimpse of their potential three minutes later when Scott Sinclair saw an angled shot cleared by Aaron Pierre. It prompted a spell of Villa pressure that culminated in the opening goal on 22 minutes when former Manchester City defender Michah Richards was left unmarked on the right corner of the Wycombe box and he managed to sweep the ball into the opposite corner of the net despite the challenge of Jacobson.
It would have been no surprise to many neutral onlookers if that goal would settle the nerves of the Villa and set-up a victory that could turn around their season. However, Wycombe hit back with some pressure of their own. On 29 minutes another Jacobson corner from the right caused more panic in the Villa box and on 32 minutes Matt Bloomfield's whipped cross from the right saw a rare Wycombe chance from open play - but Wood shot wide of the near post.
Wycombe's best chance of the half came on 42 minutes when the now trademark Jacobson inswinging corner saw Pierre thunder in and head just over the crossbar in front of the 2,000 plus travelling Villa fans.
Half-time Wycombe 0 Villa 1
Wanderers stormed out in the second-half and rewarded on 50 minutes with what many will claim a fortu penalty. The incident came after a Wycombe throw on the right wing, deep in the Villa half. The ball looped up into the near side of the Villa box following a deflected cross from Jason McCarthy - Bloomfield jumped for the ball on the edge of the box and Ashley Westwood's trailing arm caught the Wycombe player in the face in full view of referee Michael Oliver. We've all seen these sort of challenges go unpunished but it was stroke of good fortune Wycombe needed.
Jacobson showed his cool head by swinging the resulting penalty to the left, with Villa 'keeper Bunn going the wrong way. The roar from the home contingent in the Adams Park crowd was imense and that would have got louder a minute later if Wood's shot from the left of the box had not been cleared off the line by Okore.
A relatively untroubled Lynch gathered a Leandro Bacuna free-kick on 55 minutes but the next 15 minutes belonged to Wycombe as they drew confidence from the equaliser. But it was case of not being able to test Bunn in the Villa goal and substititions from both managers on 70 minutes worked more in favour of Villa than Wycombe - although Villa fans reacting to the replacement of Gil Carles, chanted "You don't know what you're doing" to boss Remi Garde.
It was the visitors who had the best chance to snatch what would have been undeserved victory on 82 minutes when Rudy Gestede's deflected shot from the edge of the box struck the corner of the left hand post and corner. Wanderers Man of the Match Aaron Pierre played the final six minutes of normal time with a bandaged head and it was fitting that Pierre made the final headed clearance before the full-time whistle was blown and Wanderers could celebrate another historical FA Cup result.
Full-time - Wycombe 1 Aston Villa 1
Speaking directly after the game to BT Sport, Wanderers Manager Gareth Ainsworth said: "People know what that means to this Club. We have very little here. So a result like and finances from a replay are so special for the Club. But the actual replay is so special for the players. I am so proud of them. I would have been proud of losing 1-0 but I said to them at half-time, what ever happens now, I am so proud. We've won already with today's fixture, so to have a replay and test ourselves up there will be fantastic. There is immense pride coming out of me at the moment." He added: "The boys will run through brick walls for me. We had the extra man in midfield today, so my four midfielders played so well and the energy they showed, really kept [Villa] at bay. The two centre-halfs and full-backs were just impenitrable today. So just really, really proud and I thought we may have just edged the better chances today which is fantastic. So bring them on at Villa. It is going to be even tougher there but we are looking forward to it."
The Wycombe boss went on to tell the mass of waiting press: "There's a couple of things that this draw will do. I look at the finances of this club, I'm well clued-up on that as everyone knows. I'm involved in everything, right to the selling of the kiosks at the club shop. I know the finances to the penny, so I know what this means for us and how much this will go to paying our debt off. But I know what it's going to mean to some of my players too, boys who weren't told they were good enough at times, free transfers and this group of never-say-die Wycombe Wanderers players."
Aston Villa - Quick Guide from chairboys.co.uk
Wanderers' complete record in the FA Cup proper
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