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Report: Cheltenham 1-4 Wycombe

22 November 2014

Wanderers returned to the top of Sky Bet League 2 in style with a fantastic 4-1 success at Whaddon Road.

For the fifth game running, they conceded first when Steve Elliott crashed home a header from a corner, but Paris Cowan-Hall responded immediately before Paul Hayes saw his penalty saved by Trevor Carson.

Lee Vaughan was then sent off for a nasty tackle on Peter Murphy and Wanderers took full advantage with goals from Steven Craig, Joe Jacobson and Matt McClure.

Injuries sustained in Monday night’s clash with Burton Albion took their toll on Gareth Ainsworth’s team selection, with Alfie Mawson, Sam Wood and Hogan Ephraim all sidelined after picking up knocks.

Aaron Pierre and Josh Scowen returned to the side while Paris Cowan-Hall and Steven Craig made the starting line-up, as Ainsworth was able to name just five subs for the game.

The visitors began brightly and saw Steven Craig head wide from a Paul Hayes cross before Cheltenham opened the scoring with their first attack on just four minutes.

Matt Richards’ deep corner from the right found Steve Elliott who lost his marker to thump a header past Matt Ingram from just six yards out, asking questions of the Blues’ marking.

But Wanderers responded in the best manner possible and earned their equaliser just a minute later, with Hayes providing the assist for Paris Cowan-Hall to thump home from 10 yards, giving keeper Trevor Carson no chance.

Having gone three months without a goal, Cowan-Hall almost had a second within five minutes when a bouncing ball sent him through in the opposition penalty area but his left-footed shot landed the wrong side of the post.

After the frenetic start, Wanderers settled the better of the two sides with Hayes in particular standing out, and he found himself at the centre of the action when Peter Murphy was barged in the back in the area, giving the striker the chance to score his 10th goal of the season from the spot.

However, Carson went the right way to save Hayes’ well-struck penalty, although the Blues remained on top and Peter Murphy then saw a goalbound shot blocked and headed wide from another dangerous cross.

The drama was unrelenting as Cheltenham then found themselves down to ten men due to a reckless challenge by Lee Vaughan on Peter Murphy, giving the referee no option but to brandish the red card.

The sending off – and subsequent break in the game for Murphy to receive treatment – killed the tempo somewhat although Wanderers did begin to get more of a grip on possession. Aaron Pierre saw a shot blocked from a well worked corner, and then within a minute, the Blues went ahead.

More poor defending from the Robins gave Steven Craig a sight of goal from 15 yards and the striker finished confidently past Carson for his first goal of the season, putting the visitors into the driving seat.

Confidence began to ooze through the Wanderers, even resulting in Aaron Pierre firing a 25-yard effort with the outside of his left boot, which Carson held.

Craig then escaped his man but aimed his header straight at the keeper as half-time drew nearer, before Cowan-Hall put the final chance of the half over the bar with a chipped cross-shot which had Carson beaten.

The Robins began the second period with a spring in their step and with more vigour than they finished the first, but the Blues gradually found their way again and came close to extending their lead when Peter Murphy lost his man from a corner but glanced his header over the bar.

A one-goal lead was always going to be fragile and the Robins had a chance to level when a corner was flicked on to Troy Brown at the back post, but he couldn’t react quickly enough and steered his header into the side netting.

But Wanderers survived the let-off and went straight up the other end to double their lead, thanks to the trusty left boot of Joe Jacobson. The left-back received the ball after an impressive move and, as Cheltenham backed off, he let fly from 25 yards to find the top corner, perhaps catching Carson by surprise.

An injury to Danny Rowe prompted a reshuffle as Stuart Lewis came into the side with Josh Scowen moving to right-back and Sido Jombati to centre-back, but the tidy football continued and a smart pass from Paul Hayes almost gave Steven Craig his second goal of the game, but his low shot was saved by Carson.

Substitute Rafa De Vita struck an impressive half volley just over as the game neared stoppage time, but the icing on the cake arrived a minute later when Matt McClure found himself in space 20 yards out and thundered home his second goal of the season with an emphatic finish past the keeper.

Wycombe: Ingram, Jombati, Jacobson, Rowe (Lewis), Pierre, Cowan-Hall, Scowen, Murphy, Bloomfield, Hayes (McClure), Craig.

Subs: Richardson, Fletcher, Kretzschmar.

Cheltenham: Carson, Vaughan, Braham-Barrett, Brown, Elliott, Deaman, Taylor (Sterling-James), Ferdinand (De Vita), Richards, Harrison, Gornell (Marquis).

Subs: Gould, Hanks, Kotwica, Black.

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