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Match Report


Posted Sun 26 Dec 10 at 16:55 PM


Wycombe moved level on points with third-placed Bury thanks to a hard-fought 2-1 win over Hereford United, with Ben Strevens smashing home a late winner at Adams Park.

The Bulls enjoyed the better of the first-half chances but were punished for their profligacy in front of goal when Gareth Ainsworth fired home a low drive four minutes before the break.

But the league's bottom side came roaring back after the interval and levelled matters when Mathieu Manset bundled home a low cross from substitute Joe Colbeck from within the six-yard box.

However, the Blues stole the victory when Ben Strevens lashed home a cutback from Stuart Beavon, having only been selected in the starting line-up due to Scott Rendell's absence through illness.

Ben Strevens strikes the winner The visitors came into the game on a poor run of results and having struggled to stage training sessions in recent weeks due to the adverse weather conditions, but they showed no signs of rustiness in the opening exchanges, carving open four goalscoring chances within the first six minutes.

Mathieu Manset and Nicky Featherstone (twice) both missed the target with long-range efforts before Rob Purdie's drive deflected onto Nikki Bull's crossbar and bounced to safety, leaving the Blues fearing a far more difficult encounter than they might have imagined.

Wycombe eventually settled but it took until the 19th minute for them to create their first chance in front of goal, seeing Bulls keeper Adam Bartlett slap away Matt Bloomfield's snapshot following good work from Stuart Beavon.

But it didn't take long for United to stamp their authority on the game once again, and they should have been ahead when Stuart Fleetwood sidefooted wide from six yards after Manset picked him out with a low cross.

There was little in Wanderers' attacking play to warm the spirits of a freezing Adams Park crowd and the often leaky Hereford defence appeared to be coping quite comfortably with the home side's threat. When they were caught out by a clever pass down the left, Kevin Betsy's cross evaded everyone in the six-yard area, to the frustration of the two onrushing strikers.

Stuart Beavon then took matters into his hands with a mazy run from the halfway line, although his left-footed shot lacked the conviction to beat Bartlett before Manset headed wide from a corner at the other end.

But the Bulls were punished for not taking their chances when Gareth Ainsworth showed them how it's done with just four minutes left of the first half. Kevin Betsy's cross from the left found the Wycombe skipper in space on the right-hand side of the box and he drilled a smart effort into the far corner to break the deadlock and lift spirits around the ground following a below-par first-half performance.

There was an improvement at the start of the second period and the Blues' defence seemed to have tightened, preventing the visitors from adding to their already impressive shot count. At the other end, Stuart Beavon's glancing header won his side a corner on 55 minutes, from which Dave Winfield saw an appeal for handball turned down by referee Dean Whitestone.

Moments later, the home side had the ball in the net only to see the referee penalise Chris Westwood for pushing his man before heading home Matt Bloomfield's free-kick, a decision which looked harsh and had Westwood pleading his innocence.

Hereford's first effort on target of the match came just before the hour-mark when Nikki Bull palmed away a fierce near-post drive from Manset, and with the tempo of the game rising all the time, Janos Kovacs produced a brave clearing header to prevent Ben Strevens tapping home a delightful chipped cross from Gareth Ainsworth.

There was controversy on 66 minutes when Stuart Beavon fell under the challenge of Richard Rose, with the referee initially pointing to the spot before awarding a free-kick outside the area on the advice of his assistant. Andy Sandell's low drive had enough power but cannoned back off the wall, leaving the game delicately poised openings coming thick and fast for both teams.

Wanderers had a chance to stretch their lead when a perfect through-ball from Stuart Beavon sent Kevin Betsy through on goal, but the winger's touch was heavy and allowed Adam Bartlett to race from his line and snatch the ball from his feet.

It was a case of déjà vu at the other end when Dave Winfield dawdled on the ball and lost out to Guillem Bauza, who gave Mathieu Manset the chance to race through on goal. However, the striker took too long and Nikki Bull threw himself at the ball superbly to thwart the goalscoring opportunity.

But the Blues didn't heed the warning and the same striker levelled matters just moments later. Substitute Joe Colbeck darted free down the right hand side and played an unselfish square pass to Manset, who bundled home from six yards to set up an intriguing finale.

Wycombe had a golden chance to regain the lead with five minutes on the clock when Matt Bloomfield was free inside the area, but his touch to take him round the keeper forced him too wide and he laid it back to Stuart Beavon, whose powerful shot was cleared off the line by Richard Rose.

But they didn't have to dwell on their missed opportunity for long, as they went in front just seconds later. Bloomfield freed Beavon with a superb pass down the right and his cutback was emphatically smashed home by Ben Strevens, much to the relief of the Adams Park faithful.

Hereford were unable to muster a second comeback of the game and the Wanderers held on for an important three points, as well as a third successive win on home turf.


2mins: CHANCE - Nicky Featherstone fires high and wide from 25 yards.

3mins: CHANCE - Mathieu Manset drills a low effort a couple of yards wide of the post.

5mins: CHANCE - Featherstone misses the target with a long-range daisy-cutter.

6mins: CHANCE - Rob Purdie's deflected shot leaves Nikki Bull flat-footed and bounces off the top of the crossbar.

11mins: CHANCE - James McQuilkin's free-kick curls over the bar.

19mins: SAVE - Matt Bloomfield fires straight at the keeper from Stuart Beavon's cutback.

24mins: CHANCE - Joe Heath's hopeful cross-shot from the touchline swerves wide of the goal.

25mins: CHANCE - Stuart Fleetwood sidefoots wide from Manset's low cross.

28mins: SUB - Matty Lund replaces the injured Rob Purdie.

32mins: SAVE - Stuart Beavon's low chance is too easy for Bartlett.

36mins: CHANCE - Manset goes close with a header from a corner.

41mins: GOAL - Gareth Ainsworth picks his spot with a low drive from inside the area.

58mins: DISALLOWED - Chris Westwood's header is chalked off for a push.

60mins: SAVE - Nikki Bull keeps out Manset's near post drive.

64mins: SUB - Stuart Fleetwood comes off with Joe Colbeck taking his place.

74mins: SUB - Kenny Lunt replaces Nicky Featherstone.

78mins: SAVE - Nikki Bull races from his line to deny Manset.

79mins: GOAL - Manset levels the scores, bundling home Joe Colbeck's cross.

86mins: CHANCE - Richard Rose clears Beavon's shot off the line.

87mins: GOAL - Beavon crosses for Ben Strevens to smash home.

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