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Wycombe Wanderers 2
Saturday 7th January 2017
FA Cup Third Round
Wanderers made it through to the 4th Round of the FA Cup for only the second time in their history after a late goal from Adebayo Akinfenwa saw them overcome non-League Stourbridge 2-1 at Adams Park. The Northern Premier League side went into the tie as the lowest ranked side left in the competition but more than held their own throughout the tie and will count themselves unlucky not have at least earned a replay or even victory in their first ever appearance in the 3rd Round.
Wycombe went into the tie at full strength and boosted by the news that Southampton loanee Dominic Gape had signed a permanent two and half year deal with Wanderers. Gareth Ainsworth returned Paris Cowan-Hall, Scott Kashket and Akinfenwa to the starting XI compared to the side that had beaten Newport County the previous Holiday Monday.
A scrappy first-half saw Kashket get first sight of goal on 21 minutes but he shot a yard wide of the right-hand upright from the edge of the box when most expected him to score. A minute later at the other end, Stourbridge confirmed they would be no pushovers when Dan Scarr's snap shot from the 12 yards was pushed away at full length by Jamal Blackman.
Akinfenwa was well marshalled by the Stourbridge defence - a 34th minute header that went over the crossbar and into the 2,000 travelling contingent, the closest effort.
Wanderers lost Matt Bloomfield to injury on 39 minutes - Sam Wood the replacement as the tie ended goalless at the break.
It was Wood who finally broke the deadlock three after the restart in a move that he started and finished. Wood went on a run down the left wing before whipping in a cross that pinged around the Stourbridge box before Wood picked out the loose ball to hook into the back of the Valley End net.
Akinfenwa had a chance to extend the lead on 63 minutes but the shot went wide of the left-hand post. A disappointing Cowan-Hall was replaced by Paul Hayes on 66 minutes before the visitors levelled matters on 70 minutes to set up a tense finish.
The goal that sent the visiting fans into a frenzy came when a free-kick was delivered from the right. Hayes could only head on for Scarr to control and stab home from around the penalty spot mark despite the close attention of Anthony Stewart. It was now definitely, 'game-on'.
A key moment came on 79 minutes when Tom Tonks flung in an deceptive outswinging cross from the right flank that saw Blackman stretch up to try and palm away but then have the crossbar to thank for keeping the ball out. If the ball had dipped another inch it would have been a FA video clip that would have been played time and time again.
Instead it was left to Wycombe to demonstrate their current trademark finishing when Joe Jacobson's 83rd minute cross from the left to the far post was headed home into the top right corner of the net by Akinfenwa. Huge relief all around for everybody connected with Wanderers.
Wanderers now move on to 4th Round for the first and only time since the epic 2001 encounter with Wolves at Adams Park and pick up £67,500 in the process. For Stourbridge, their FA Cup adventure for 2016/17 ended at Adams Park but they will savour the scenes at the final whistle where virtually everybody in the ground remained to applaud them off the pitch.
Full-time - Wycombe 2 Stourbridge 1
Speaking after the game, Wanderers Manager Gareth Ainsworth told the press: "It was a fantastic game and I am delighted to have got through. Thank you to every Wycombe Wanderers fan today as they cheered us on and got us over the line but fair play to Stourbridge. They were the better team in spells and what they gave us was a real full-blooded cup tie and when they crashed one off the bar, I thought we may have this and when Bayo crops up at the back post there is usually only one outcome."
The Wycombe boss added: "I said before the game that either side being in the fourth round is a fairytale and don’t dismiss how big Wycombe Wanderers being in the fourth round is. It is huge for the club and I am really proud and to get through and to be in the hat on Monday is brilliant."
Commenting on his hopes for the 4th Round draw, he said: “I would love us to get a Premier League side away from home. Other than that, a tie that has potential to see us through to the fifth round would be good enough with me."
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