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Wycombe Wanderers 0
Saturday 16th January 2016
Football League Two
Wanderers lost for the first time in ten meetings with Hartlepool United - going down to a single goal defeat Victoria Park. Perhaps with minds on the forthcoming FA Cup replay with Aston Villa, Wanderers didn't get into upper gear until just after the hour mark. By that time a Scott Fenwick flick in at the near post on 33 minutes had given the hosts the lead and despite Wycombe's best efforts in the closing third of the game (including a big shout for a penalty), an equaliser didn't arrive. Despite the defeat, Wanderers remain in 6th spot in the table but are now 8 points behind the third automatic promotion spot and 15 behind leaders Plymouth Argyle.
Gareth Ainsworth made two changes to the starting XI that had drawn with Aston Villa the previous weekend - Matt Ingram returning in goal, following his one match suspension, in place of Alex Lynch, while Gozie Ugwu was given his first start since the October 2015 home defeat to Newport County in place of Aaron Amadi-Holoway. On the bench, both Marcus Bean and Paul Hayes returned for the first time since being injured in November and December respectively.
Victoria Park had been a happy hunting ground for Wanderers in recent past meetings. The previous three visits had brought victories on each occasion, while the only defeat in the six previous trips had come in November 2006. Meanwhile, Pools went into the game on the back of four straight League defeats, although they had run Championship Derby County close in the previous weekend's FA Cup tie.
First chance for Wycombe came in the 5th minute when Harriman and Thompson exchanged passed down the right wing before Wood fired wide of the near post. Jacobson's outswinging corner from the left on 11 minutes saw Pierre head wide of the left-hand upright. A carbon copy corner a minute then saw Bloomfield's shot deflected wide. Thompson fired a shot straight at the keeper from 18 yards on 19 minutes, while Ugwu shot from distance two minutes later following O'Nein's powerful run from midfield but the shot lacked power.
After rarely threatening, the hosts got their breakthough after Ingram's long clearance was won by the home defence and Rhys Oates was allowed to take the ball from right to left before pushing the ball wide to new signing Nathan Thomas, whose the resulting cross was turned in at the near post by Fenwick.
Ugwu turned on the right edge of the box and then shot wide of the opposite post four minutes before the break as Wycombe continued to carve out openings but without the final execution. The travelling contingent of just over 150, hoped for better things in the second half.
Three minutes after the restat Pierre was in the right place to deflect wide Oates' shot, while at the other end Jacobson had the ball in the net following McCarthy's dinked cross from the right but it was ruled out for an earlier infringement. Just before the hour mark Ingram dived to his right to save a Jordan Richards free-kick but the remainder of the game belonged to Wycombe.
Wanderers' claims for a penalty came on 66 minutes when Ugwu held he ball up on the right wing before feeding Harriman whose flighted cross, first saw a Thompson shot blocked and then Wood appeared to be hacked down by Richards as the Wycombe went for the loose ball. There were immediate claims from the Wycombe players in close attendance but referee Mark Brown was not interested. A Jacobson inswinging corner a minute later brought the closest Wycombe came to levelling - Pierre's header at the far side of the six yard being tipped spectacularly over the bar by Trevor Carson in the home goal.
A switch of formation with Jermaine Udumaga replacing Jason McCarthy and Harriman dropping to full-back, plus Aaron Amadi-Holloway replacing Garry Thompson, also failed to change Wycombe's fortune. Jacobson, Ugwu, Holloway and Udumaga all had efforts on goal as the shot tally moved up to 17 for the day but without one finding the net.
Full-time - Hartlepool 1 Wycombe 0
Speaking after the game, Wanderers Manager Gareth Ainsworth told the press: "From the goal at 33 minutes, there was only one team that was looking like scoring and that was Wycombe Wanderers and how we haven't is just unbelievable. It's great that we are creating all these chances and twenty or so is great but it's all about starting to stick them in. It's a shame because Hartlepool were there for the taking today, and we have dropped a point at least. The boys are gutted after this result, but spirits will be back up when we get into training on Monday and start focusing on the game against Aston Villa." Commenting on the penalty claim when Sam Wood went down in the box, Ainsworth added: "How we havenít scored in the second half is amazing, but the referee has to give a penalty, it is a stonewaller. Thatís a big, game changing decision. We were poor in the first half and probably didnít deserve to win, but that decision makes it difficult to take."
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