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Wycombe Wanderers 1
Luton Town 1
Saturday 21st January 2017
Football League Two
An 82nd equaliser from Adebayo Akinfenwa maintained Wanderers unbeaten run as they drew 1-1 with Luton Town at Adams Park. The visitors had taken a 56th lead via a headed goal from Hatters Captain Scott Cuthbert but Wanderers hit back following a double substitution, coupled with a sending-off for Town's Johnny Mullins.
Scott Kashket and new signing Sam Saunders were introduced on 66 minutes for the out of sorts Paris Cowan-Hall and Paul Hayes. On 73 minutes goal-machine Kashket came within a few inches of adding to his tally of goals, while Mullins lunge on Kashket a couple of minutes later saw referee Mark Heywood produce a red-card and take Luton's total for the season to eight.
With Wycombe continuing the press, it was the now familiar combination of a Joe Jacobson cross from the left and a Akinfenwa header, that drew the scores level and keep Wanderers a point ahead of The Hatters in the table.
Wycombe now take a break from League action with the midweek visit to Mansfield Town in the quarter-final of the Football League Trophy followed by the FA Cup 4th Round tie with Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Saturday 28th January.
Full-time - Wycombe 1 Luton 1
Speaking after the game, Wanderers Manager Gareth Ainsworth was asked about Adebayo Akinfenwa and his influence on the game: "Everyone thought when we signed him it was to get the Akinfenwa profile Ė absolutely not. I watched him last year and he's changed games, been promoted with Wimbledon, and scored over 100 goals in his career - his goal scoring record is phenomenal. We're lucky to have someone like that. He's as fit as he's ever been and playing some unbelievable football. It took a couple of months to work out the best way to play with him, but he's a leader on and off the pitch.
ďHow many times the Jacobson-Akinfenwa combination has worked this season is frightening. Okay it was on a plate for him, but he has two defenders patrolling him, and that's what he's done all his career. He's a fantastic character to have around, but he will be the first to say the team spirit and character around him has enabled us to get back into this game. There's nobody else quite like him in the league.
The Wycombe boss described the game as 'fantastic' for the neutral and then commented on the sending-off and did it turn the game in any way; "Off course, we got more space on the pitch. We were pressing them quite well. We had introduced a couple of fresh legs - the boy's had a bad touch and Scotty Kashket is lightning quick and got to the ball first. I think Mullins has lunged in but there is no absolutely no malice. He may think people believe he tried to 'do him' - absolutely not, it's just an honest tackle and just mis-timed. He's got a red card which is probably a bit unfortunate - maybe an 'orange card'. It's one of those things. It turns the game in our favour, we get more of the ball and Dominic Gape gets on the ball a lot more - a great little player, he gets it down the left. A fantastic cross [from Jacobson] in and a fantastic header. We could have won it as well."
"It was not a dirty game. It was local derby. The atmosphere in the stadium was fantastic, it was electric. It was like a cup-tie, which was good because we have two cup games coming up and good rehearsal for us. Some people say that a draw at home is two points lost. Not for me, that is a point towards our total and a very good point against a very good side."
In stark contrast, Luton boss Nathan Jones appeared to have been to the Derek Adams school of how not to conduct a press conference, when he said the following - produced verbatim below for the record:
"We came here, we were by far the better side, apart from lumping it up to Akinfenwa they had no threat whatsoever, but we had a real structure about us. We should have killed them off, Jack Marriott had a great chance that would have won the game for us and Iím proud of us because they stood up to that physical threat, a predictable physical threat, but itís a threat. We were excellent, when we got to grips with it, moved it, we got in a few times, and should have won the game today."
Commenting about the match officials, Jones added: ďI canít comment about the referee, but my marks for the referee will say absolutely everything about him. Iíll be very surprised it if goes into double figures out of 100. The officials, I donít know what I can say or how far I can go to not get pulled up in front of the FA, but let me tell you now, someone needs to look at that performance, because it was way, way short of what we would expect at our level. Iím going to see the referee because thatís not acceptable. The performance I saw today from a referee, I thought didnít manage the game well. The intimidating tactics they showed, he didnít control that in any way and it was just not for me that.Ē
On the sending off he said: ďIím going to have to see that again because I havenít seen it yet, so I canít comment on whether it was a right or wrong one. But the linesman on that side gave it, so if Iím honest, it was probably the wrong decision, because the afternoon heís had, Iíd be very surprised if he got one right. We seem to be getting a lot of red cards lately which we have to brush up on as if we donít, itís going to cost us."
On Danny Hylton: ďI had to bring Danny off as he was getting absolutely no protection from the referee whatsoever. [The referee] didnít understand anything about the game and then the linesman on this side, I tell you what, I donít know why heís come. I donít know what he was doing here, he might as well sleep with that flag tonight. Itís disappointing as itís a good five or six bookings heís picked up justifiably, the others I think are just reputation. Some of the things that went on, they were trying to get him booked, I was disappointed, really with a lot of what Wycombe were doing today. Theyíre a real strong side, an intimidating side, but they didnít bully us and Iím pleased with that. We showed we had a real strength about us, a lot of good leaders out there and I thought we were excellent in possession, I really did."
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