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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 10 Apr 10 at 17:40 PM

REPORT: BLUES EARN STYLISH WIN

Goals from Jon-Paul Pittman and Matt Phillips earned all three points for a totally dominant Wycombe Wanderers against Hartlepool United, and kept alive the Blues' survival hopes.

After relentless pressure for the opening hour, Pittman opened the scoring with a smart finish from close range following a Craig Woodman cross on 66 minutes.

And Phillips secured the points after an excellent through-ball from man-of-the-match Alex Revell set the winger through on goal, and after shifting the ball on to his left foot, the winger finished with confidence past Scott Flinders.

Jon-Paul Pittman opens the scoring
JP Pittman scored his tenth of the season from close range in the second-half

Revell's inclusion was one of three changes made by manager Gary Waddock in the starting XI, with Lewis Montrose and John Mousinho joining him in the starting line-up at the expense of Dean Keates, Kevin McLeod and Stuart Beavon.

The visitors kicked off the game in their fluorescent orange change strip, which, on a particularly sunny Spring afternoon, contributed to a bright spectacle for the crowd inside Adams Park.

And the home support were almost celebrating the game's opening goal inside the first three minutes, when Jon-Paul Pittman's low cross was cleverly worked across to Gareth Ainsworth, although the winger's low effort was diverted behind for a corner.

Hartlepool looked threatening at times, particularly courtesy of the pacy Leon McSweeney on the left wing, but failed to test Blues keeper Tom Heaton as the home defence stood firm.

At the other end, Craig Woodman looked to cap a memorable week on a personal note with a volley from the edge of the box, but Scott Flinders saved comfortably to deny the defender a goal to add to the birth of his third child, India, last week.

Wycombe's ill fortune with defensive injuries continued on 18 minutes with the departure of Adam Hinshelwood, which meant that Lewis Hunt filled in at centre-back after recently recovering from his own injury setback. Just a week after loanees Alan Bennett and Julian Kelly were ruled out for the season, Gary Waddock must have been cursing his luck.

But his side almost struck lucky at the other end courtesy of a goalmouth scramble which almost saw Chris Westwood and then Lewis Montrose break the deadlock. Woodman's corner sparked mayhem inside the area but no blue shirts were able to turn the ball home, before Montrose's blast flew over the crossbar.

And from the scrappy to the spectacular, Gareth Ainsworth almost opened the account with a flying bicycle-kick after Flinders had flapped at another Woodman corner, but again, the ball cleared the bar.

Leon McSweeney attempted to steal the limelight for himself with a 25-yard curling effort from the left channel, but the ball landed in the Valley Terrace behind the goal.

Wycombe were always the dominant force with the front pairing of Alex Revell and Jon-Paul Pittman looking particularly threatening, and the pair combined for a great chance on 40 minutes when Pittman was denied inside the six-yard box by Neil Austin from Revell's cutback.

More tricky forward play from the Blues released Matt Bloomfield inside the box moments later but just as the midfielder was poised to pull the trigger, Joe Gamble whisked the ball from his feet with a well-timed challenge.

United were afforded a chance in first-half stoppage time with Andy Monkhouse heading wide from a corner, but there was applause from the home support as the team left the pitch at the break after an encouraging display in the first 45 minutes.

And the second period began in a similar vein, with Wycombe applying heavy pressure on the visiting defence and forcing a series of corners - one of which almost resulted in Lewis Hunt's first goal of the season. The defender threw himself at a Woodman delivery and his effort cannoned off the inside of the post before Ainsworth was unable to reach the rebound.

Kevin Betsy was the next to try his luck with a low cross-shot across the face of goal after clever play on the left wing, but that crucial goal still eluded the Blues.

Hartlepool were there for the taking, misplacing passes and lacking any sort of clinical edge up front, so it was no surprise when they introduced livewire forward James Brown on 59 minutes, with the ineffective Armann Bjornsson making way.

But Wycombe kept creating chances left right and centre, and relentless corners only added to the pressure on the visitors' goal. Chris Westwood nodded wide from close range and then Jon-Paul Pittman blasted just over after another scramble, which started from Alex Revell's clever play at the back post.

And the goal finally came. After Gareth Ainsworth's volley had been blocked, Woodman returned the ball into the area and Pittman squeezed between two defenders to poke home on 66 minutes.

The lively striker then flashed a cross just past the far post as the Blues looked to double their lead, while United swapped Antony Sweeney for Joe Gamble in a bid to turn the tide in their favour.

Wycombe were buzzing with confidence, and rightly so. The tireless Alex Revell did excellently to latch on to a through-ball and beat the onrushing keeper, but after being forced wide, the striker was unlucky to see his curled effort clip the bar before bouncing over.

It was a joy to watch. Jon-Paul Pittman's refusal to give up seemingly lost causes paid dividends when he robbed Scott Flinders by the corner flag whilst the keeper was shepherding the ball out of play, but after winning the ball, the striker fired wide from a difficult angle.

Pools' final change saw Colin Larkin replace Leon McSweeney while Pittman came off for Phillips on 80 minutes, but the Blues received a let-off when an unmarked Andy Monkhouse spent a lifetime shaping up to shoot at the back post, and the defence recovered just in time to rob him of the ball.

Sam Collins headed over the top from a United corner but Wycombe looked the more likely to grab a second, with wingers Ainsworth and Betsy causing all sorts of headaches for the Pools.

And the points were secured in fine fashion with two minutes remaining. Alex Revell's perfect ball over the top for Matt Phillips sent the winger away into the penalty area, and after shifting the ball on to his left foot, the winger finished confidently just moments after Revell had been announced as the man-of-the-match.

And it proved to be the last meaningful action of the game, as the referee called time on arguably Wycombe's best display of the season.



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