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Nationwide League Division Two Preston v WYCOMBE
Saturday 22nd January
Division Two
Wycombe finished a miserable week result wise, when another late goal saw a 3-2 defeat at promotion chasing Preston North End despite taking an early lead. Starting the game without Jason Cousins (suspended), Andy Baird (flu) and Jamie Bates (groin strain), Lawrie Sanchez gave a full First Team debut to Matt Brady, while Mark Rogers and Paul McCarthy patrolled the centre of defence. It was Brady who gave Wycombe a surprise sixth minute lead after Steve Brown's shot was pushed wide right to Sean Devine. Devine tried to turn the ball in from a narrow angle but Colin Murdock cleared only for Brady to score from close range. Preston, missing regulars Kurt Nogan and David Eyres began to turn the screw on 17 minutes when Rob Edwards cross was headed over from under the Wycombe cross-bar by Chris Vinnicombe. On 28 minutes Martin Taylor's woodwork came to Wycombe's rescue for the first of three close calls for in the first-half when Michael Appleton saw a shot smash against the cross-bar. Graham Alexander and Lee Cartwright caused all sorts of problems for Wycombe down the right wing but somehow Wycombe managed to survive the barrage of Preston pressure before finally conceding an equaliser in the 34th minute. Ironically it came from a free-kick delivered from the Preston left where Murdock glanced a firm header past Taylor from 15 yards. Taylor was booked moments later when after a massive scramble in the Wycombe box he tried to delay the resulting corner. When the corner was finally taken, Taylor did well to push the ball onto his own cross-bar despite the intimidating presence of several Preston players. Six minutes before the break Appleton hit another shot against the woodwork - this time the post helping out Taylor before the ball was scrambled clear. Wycombe had a rare attack a minute later but Devine's cross sailed wide of the target and any Wycombe head. It was then a familiar story for Wycombe fans when another stoppage time goal was conceded - North End top scorer Jonathan Macken tapping in after Taylor had parried Bjarki Gunnlaugsson's original shot from Appleton's neat through ball.
Half-time Preston 2 Wycombe 1
If the first half saw Wycombe under pressure, then the second half saw them literally squashed into their own goal. In the first twenty minutes of the second period, Preston forced ten corners but Wycombe survived and then silenced the locals with a 57th minute equaliser. It was goal out of the blue and came when Devine's left wing run broke down when the Wycombe striker stumbled. The ball was cleared but Carroll squared to Michael Simpson who unleashed a 25 yarder that thumped against the woodwork via the fingers tips of
Teuvo Moilanen but an alert Matt Lawrence was there to tuck in the rebound. Just before the goal Wycombe had lost Paul McCarthy when his bout of flu got the better of him. The equaliser knocked the home side off their stride and Devine and Simpson did have half-chances to steal all three points. Meanwhile Preston wasted a glorious chance to regain the lead when Macken hit a weak shot straight at Taylor from no more than ten yards. As Wycombe tried to kill the game off, Preston turned the heat up back to earlier levels and there was noticeable needle in the dying minutes. Michael Simpson was booked for tripping Mark Rankine and Murdock received similar punishment for pulling back Wycombe substitute Dannie Bulman. Devine drove a shot straight at Moilanen in the North End goal after 82 minutes as the 300 plus Wycombe following made themselves heard amonst the near 11,000 attendance. Those same fans were then delivered another body blow when Murdock delivered a left wing ball into the Wycombe box and Macken was there to grab the winner as Chris Vinnicombe failed to cover..
On the balance of play Preston were streets ahead of Wycombe but having got so close to taking a point, it was another kick in the teeth to concede such a late goal. Wycombe will now have to wait until Saturday 5th February for their next league game when they visit 17th placed Wrexham. Wycombe are now 11th in the Division Two table with 36 points from 28 games.
Final Score Preston 3 Wycombe 2
Wycombe Team: Taylor, Lawrence, Vinnicombe, McCarthy (sub 51 Beeton), Rogers, Simpson (sub 87 Senda), Carroll, Ryan, Devine, Brown, Brady (sub 72 Bulman) subs not used Harkin, Thompson Att:10,969
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