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Match Report


Posted Mon 05 Apr 10 at 16:52 PM


A second-half fightback from the Blues was not enough to claim a result at the Banks's Stadium on Easter Monday as Walsall held on for a 2-1 win.

Early goals from Manny Smith and Julian Gray fired the home side into a two-goal lead in the first half, but Wycombe showed more desire after the break and earned a route back into the game courtesy of Adam Hinshelwood's close range header.

However, despite a late rally from Gary Waddock's men, they were left to reflect on a second successive defeat which leaves their survival hopes hanging by a thread.

Gary Waddock made three changes for the trip up the M40 to the Banks's Stadium, with Craig Woodman returning after the birth of his third child, while Matt Bloomfield and Jon-Paul Pittman came in for John Mousinho and Matt Harrold.

But Wanderers got off to the worst possible start. Having seen a Jon-Paul Pittman drive fly just past the post on six minutes, they found themselves behind moments later when Manny Smith headed home with ease from Julian Gray's corner.

The corner itself was harshly awarded after Kevin Betsy was seemingly pushed by Darren Byfield, but the Blues needed to be more alert when the delivery came across the box towards the tall central defender.

Kevin McLeod saw a free-kick sail over the bar on 21 minutes as the visitors looked for a response, but they found themselves two goals down soon after when Julian Gray curled home in style from the edge of the box.

Considering Wycombe's critical need for a victory, it had been a disastrous opening to the game, and a host of missed chances before the break only deepened their despair.

Saddlers keeper Rene Gilmartin pulled off a stunning save from Gareth Ainsworth on 34 minutes after Stuart Beavon's cutback was cleverly dummied by Dean Keates, while Pittman's low drive was well clawed out by the keeper with two blue shirts lurking.

Matt Bloomfield's 25-yard volley and Beavon's curling effort on the turn both came close to halving the deficit, but the half-time whistle sounded and left Gary Waddock's men facing an uphill struggle in the second half.

They began brightly after the interval and saw Bloomfield again fire just over the bar, before Beavon fired into the keeper's arms after good work on the edge of the box.

It wasn't entirely one-way traffic, and Walsall's Steve Jones was twice denied as the home side looked to kill the game off.

Gary Waddock introduced Alex Revell as a substitute on the hour-mark, with Stuart Beavon coming off, before Jon-Paul Pittman's volleyed strike was disallowed after the ball had already gone out for a goal-kick.

Chances started to dry up for the visitors, and the Blues boss attempted to freshen things up by swapping Dean Keates for Lewis Montrose on 69 minutes.

In fact, it was the home side who began to look more comfortable in possession, and Alex Nicholls flashed a header just wide with 20 minutes left on the clock.

But Wycombe were not prepared to lie down, and Adam Hinshelwood snatched a goal back when he nodded home Kevin McLeod's cross at the near post, before Matt Phillips came on for Chris Westwood in one last throw of the dice.

Wanderers looked threatening as they threw the proverbial kitchen sink at the Saddlers, and only a fine save from Gilmartin denied Lewis Montrose a first goal for the club when the midfielder drove towards the top corner on 84 minutes.

The same player lashed wide as the game entered stoppage time, and Jon-Paul Pittman directed a header into the keeper's arms as the game drew to a close and left Wycombe contemplating an almost certain return to life in League Two.

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