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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 02 Jan 10 at 18:31 PM

REPORT: IMPROVED BLUES EDGED OUT

A spirited display from the Wanderers was not quite enough as Korey Smith's 78th minute winner clinched all three points for Norwich City in an entertaining battle at Adams Park.

Gary Waddock's plea for improvement was greeted with a confident performance of his side, who made a mockery of the 20 places separating the first half in an even first half.

City piled on the pressure in the second half and Blues had Scott Shearer to thank for a series of stunning saves, while at the other end, Matt Phillips hit the inside of the post as the Wanderers looked to nick the win.

But just seconds later, the visitors broke into the Wycombe area and Wes Hoolahan's cutback was met by Smith, who sidefooted home to seal a happy return to HP12 for manager Paul Lambert.

The aftermath of the 5-2 defeat to Brighton prompted Waddock to make two changes to the side, with Stuart Beavon and Luke Oliver dropping to the bench to make way for Matt Phillips and debutant Adam Hinshelwood, who signed from Aldershot on New Year's Day.

And with the Blues eager to make amends for successive heavy defeats to lowly opposition, they made a bright start to 2010, with Jon-Paul Pittman firing over the bar when Scott Davies' smart free-kick picked him out on the penalty spot.

Simon Lappin had provided the assists for four of Norwich's five goals in the reverse fixture at Carrow Road in August, and his cross was met by Grant Holt, whose goalward header was easily claimed by Shearer.

Scott Davies fired wide from Pittman's knockdown soon after, and the striker had a chance of his own when cutting inside up against Russell Martin, returning to his former club, and shooting past the near post.

Wes Hoolahan fired over the bar after running unchallenged at the Wycombe defence on 23 minutes, and two minutes later there was controversy when Adam Hinshelwood brought down Chris Martin outside the area.

City's supporters and players applied pressure to referee Pat Miller to show a red card, but he only brandished a yellow card before Simon Lappin's free-kick was well kept out by Shearer.

Another free-kick - this time from Chris Martin - rattled the crossbar on 36 minutes as the visitors began to show their class, but Wycombe should have been ahead when Davies headed wide despite being unchallenged when meeting Kevin Betsy's cross ten yards out.

The final notable moment of the half saw Shearer involved yet again, this time tipping Russ Martin's dipping volley over the bar, but both sides would have felt that the 0-0 scoreline at the break was justified.

Whilst there no changes in personnel at the break, it appeared as though Lambert had demanded more from his players during his team-talk as they made a quick start to the second period.

After Gary Doherty headed Simon Lappin's header over the crossbar, Grant Holt appealed for a penalty after theatrically throwing himself to the floor in the six-yard box after an alleged tug, but the referee waved it away.

With the City fans riled, the atmosphere heightened inside the ground, and when Tommy Doherty was booked for a foul on his namesake Gary, Shearer needed to be at his best to deny Chris Martin from the free-kick.

The chances kept coming - and so did the heroics from the Blues keeper. Russell Martin's 30-yard volley on 55 minutes was destined for the top corner before the keeper produced yet another fine save.

Michael Nelson headed Wes Hoolahan's cross over the top and Lewis Hunt denied Chris Martin with a fine tackle inside the box as the pressure grew, and Adam Hinshelwood's debut came to an end as cramp forced a change, with Luke Oliver coming on in his place.

Wycombe needed to ease the pressure, and Jon-Paul Pittman's deflected shot could have gone anywhere before spinning wide, and with the game stretching, Grant Holt was set through one-on-one but lost out to Shearer, who dived bravely at his feet to win the ball.

The keeper then denied Chris Martin's stinging drive, and a last-ditch tackle from Luke Oliver, combined with a goal-line clearance from Lewis Hunt, frustrated the visitors further as the game reached a thrilling finale.

But when you're at the bottom, luck doesn't go your way, and Matt Phillips' effort bounced off the inside of the post and into the keeper's arms after a fine break forward from Scott Davies sent the youngster through.

And seconds later, it was 1-0 to City when they piled men forward and Korey Smith found space inside the box to guide the ball home from Wes Hoolahan's low cut-back.

The introduction of Matt Harrold and Matt Bloomfield for Kevin Betsy and Matt Phillips couldn't salvage a point for the Blues, and City held on for a victory which moves them up to second in the table.

As for Wycombe, they can take heart from an encouraging display ahead of next week's trip to league leaders Leeds United.

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