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Wycombe Wanderers 2
Hartlepool United 1
Saturday 5th September 2015
Football League Two
Michael Harriman scored twice as Wanderers moved up to second spot in League Two following a deserved 2-1 victory over Hartlepool United at Adams Park. The QPR loanee netted either side of a Carl Magnay equaliser to retain Wanderers' unbeaten start to the campaign and make it eight straight victories over Pools.
Team news had seen Gareth Ainsworth forced to make changes from the side that had drew at Crawley the previous weekend. With Aaron Pierre away on international duty, Danny Rowe returned from injury to take over in the centre of defence alongside Sido Jombati. Aaron Amadi-Holloway and Sam Wood were also both unavailable due to injury, while Stephen McGinn was dropped to the bench. In came Paul Hayes and Luke O'Nein, with Aston Villa loanee Janoi Donacien filling in at right-back - that meant a more forward role for Harriman who subsequently celebrated with his first goals for Wanderers since rejoining on loan at the start of the season.
A lively game saw Wycombe create the early openings as they unsually kicked towards the Valley End goal during the opening 45 minutes. Garry Thompson was set free down the left on 4 minutes by Jason Banton but his low cross the far post was short of Harriman's conversion. On 6 minutes Thompson dragged a shot wide of the post, while Marcus Bean also saw sight of goal on 10 minutes but shot high of the target from around 30 yards.
However, Ronnie Moore's side, who had been delayed on route to their hotel the previous evening, also had a chance to open the scoring on 12 minutes but Matt Ingram was quick to get down to his right to palm away Jake Carroll's shot from the edge of the box. Thompson saw a snap shot blocked at the near post on 19 minutes, while Paul Hayes saw a reflex shot from close range cleared off the line following a Joe Jacobson corner from the left.
Ingram crucially made a one-handed save to deny Paynter from close range just moments before Wycombe opened the scoring on 26 minutes. Ingram cleared long to where Hayes chested the ball down on the edge of the visitors box for Harriman to drill the ball inside the near right hand upright.
On the balance of play, Wycombe would have fancied their chances of adding to the lead before the break but instead found themselves level as visitors hit back on 42 minutes when a move down the Pools right saw Carl Magnay break into the box before lifting a slightly deflected left footed shot over Ingram and into the far corner of the net. It could have got worse for Wycombe too after Sido Jombati's knock back to Ingram well into the path of Paynter who blasted the ball against the right hand upright.
Those events may have been a wake-up call for Wanderers and they were ahead again on 56 minute when Harriman netted what turned out to be a delightful winner. Again it was another Ingram long clearance that saw Thompson and then Hayes head on the right wing run of Harriman who cut inside his marker before curling the ball left footed and just inside the left-hand post. The loanee admitted after the game that the ball took a small deflection but that shouldn't detract from the quality of the finish.
This time there was no way back for the visitors as they came up against a Wycombe defence that saw Rowe continue to shine in the centre, while Villa loanee Donacien also impressed along with a terrier like performance from midfielder Luke O'Nein.
As frustration crept into the visitors play Magnay was red carded on 86 minutes for an off the ball challenge on Wycombe substitute Ryan Sellers - grabbing the player around the neck and swinging him to the ground in full view of the fourth official and the Wycombe bench. Then as Wycombe ran down the clock in five minutes of stoppage time, Kudus Oyeunga was lucky not receive the same punishment for a lunge on Max Kretzschmar near the away end corner flag.
Full-time - Wycombe 2 Hartlepool 1
Speaking after the game, Wanderers Manager Gareth Ainsworth told the press: "We had a makeshift team out there today so it was great to see us get the result today. We have 18 quality players and that's what counted today. First 25 minutes we were by far the better team. Michael Harriman could have had five or six by half time. Paul Hayes has come through the pain barrier today with his Achilles heel and Max Kretzschmar was terrific when he came on. It's going to be competitive for positions in future weeks. The fans were really brilliant today. The got behind us and kept the faith and that helped us win today."
Commenting on the stat that this was Wanderers' eight consecutive victory over Pools, Ainsworth added: "History can do one because that was a tough game, it was really a tough game. There was no right to win that at all just because of previous years. They really are a tough side and Ronnie Moore has done a fantastic job, changing that team from where they were last season. [Hartlepool were] a team in a little bit of disarray I thought last season but a solid outfit this year. They will beat teams, they’ve got some really good attacking options and I was worried, believe me. I had three players playing out of position in the back four which is tough but I felt the boys adapted really well today and justified a couple of the changes that I made and, again, Garry Thompson led the line fantastically well and set the scene for everyone today and I thought a deserved three points."
With leaders Leyton Orient losing 4-0 at Exeter, the result leaves Wycombe a point behind The O's with six games played. Oxford United (4th) and Portsmouth (5th) are the only other teams who remain unbeaten. The Wycombe Manager added: "We just carry this attitude we have, this culture at the Club we’ve created. It’s almost like you don’t want to look at the league table this year. You just want to continue what we’ve done from the start of last season; continue that never give up attitude, never leave anything out on the pitch attitude and players who have come this season will slowly get to that. They’re still not right. Some of the players who have come in are still not 'Wycombe-ised'. There’s a few that are, there’s a few that need to learn it and I think we’ll only got better but it was fantastic to see everybody pulling in the same direction."
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