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Wycombe Wanderers 1
Saturday 16th April 2016
Football League Two
Wanderers are now two points outside the play-off places after having to settle for a 1-1 home draw with Barnet. Wycombe had taken the lead in th 58th minute when Paul Hayes bundled the ball home. However, the visitors hit back on 72 minutes after a ball in from the left found an unmarked Andy Yiadom on the edge of the six yard box who converted despite the best efforts of Ryan Allsop. From Wycombe's point of view it was a poor goal to concede and has made the task of sneaking into the final play-off point that much harder.
The draw with Barnet came after Gareth Ainsworth made two changes the side that had drawn at York the previous Saturday - Max Kretzschmar and Gary Thompson returning the side in favour of Jerell Sellars and Rowan Liburd. Luke O'Nein remained side-lined with a knee injury, while Matt Bloomfield was ruled out following his broken arm from the game at York - he will now miss the remainder of the season.
This was a game that Wycombe really need to take all three points in order to improve their chances of sneaking into the play-off places and there were encogaring signs with a bright start. Michael Harriman shot just wide in the 2nd minute, while the increasingly impressive Anthony Stewart headed a few inches wide of the right-hand post on 10 minutes.
Bira Dembélé headed over for Barnet following a corner from the right on 31 minutes, while six minutes later Michael Gash saw a flick header pushed around the right-hand post by Allsop to give Wycombe warning that the visitors, without a win at Adams Park in their previous ten visits, were not to be taken lightly.
Kretzschmar forced Barnet 'keeper Graham Stack to save to his right three minutes before the break following a free-kick from around 25 yards as the first-half ended goalless.
The second-half half followed a similar pattern. On 48 minutes Akinde got the better of Sido Jombati without too much effort down the right wing before pulling the ball back for the ever dangerous Yiadom to scoop the ball over the crossbar from less than 10 yards. Four minutes later at the other end another Kretzschmar free-kick was blocked by the Barnet wall, with Stewart's follow-up wide of the right-hand upright.
The outcome of the game looked to have turned just before the hour mark. First on 57 minutes Allsop made a great save to his right to push away a fierce shot on the run from Akinde and the Wycombe 'keeper was then quick to recover to dive in the opposite direction to deny Yiadom. Wycombe scored from their next attack. A long ball from Allsop was controlled to the left of the box by Kretzschmar who managed to swivel and cross for Michael Harriman to head against the cross bar - the ball coming down in the left corner of the six-yard box for Hayes to poke in from a couple of yards.
It was the kind of pivotal momemnt that fortunes swing on and Wycombe came close to adding a second on 65 minutes when Kretzschmar burst into the left side of the box again, before feeding Thompson but the ex-Notts County man dragged his shot wide of the far post. 2-0 then would surely have been enough for Wanderers to seal the three points but they conceeded a sucker-punch goal on 72 minutes when Harriman was beaten for pace down the Barnet left to allow Elliott Johnson to whip over a low cross that Yiadom converted with Jason McCarthy and Jombati all at sea.
With Wanderers not having scored more than one goal at home since December 2015 (9 games), a second goal from Wycombe always seemed unlikely and despite the introduction of Jerell Sellars, Gozie Ugwu and Rowan Liburd, it was central-defender Stewart who went closest in the remaining miinutes when his header from a Harriman corner from the left was saved with relative comfort by Stack.
Stranger things have happened (staying up in 2014) but this result, coupled with the continuing good form of Wimbledon, now makes a play-off place seem unlikely. However, with the final three games of the season seeing Wanderers square up to Portsmouth, Accrington and Oxford United, Gareth Ainsworth's side will definitely have a say in how the final promotion spots pan out. Next game for Wanderers - at home to Yeovil Town on Tuesday (19th April).
Full-time - Wycombe 1 Barnet 1
Speaking after the game, Wanderers Manager Gareth Ainsworth told the press: "I got a reaction at half-time because Barnet caused us a few problems in the first half. We are still in the hunt with four games to go and I think we need to win three of those games to be in the play-offs. It's a tall order but we have done things like this before. We will be giving everything to go into these games to try to win them. We had one shot to save in the second half and it goes in. Ryan Allsop has nearly saved it and he's upset he didn't save it, but that's the spirit we've got here."
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