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Report: Portsmouth 2-1 Wycombe

23 April 2016

Wanderers succumbed to a defeat which ends their play-off dream in an absorbing game on the south coast.

Gary Roberts slid home Pompey's equaliser in an evenly-matched first half which saw the Blues take the game to their promotion-chasing opponents with some enterprising football.

Conor Chaplin doubled the score after the break, staying onside to beat Ryan Allsop, but Sido Jombati's exquisite free-kick sparked a late surge from the visitors, when they were denied an equaliser by some last-ditch defending.

Gareth Ainsworth made two changes to his side from the one that drew 0-0 against Yeovil in midweek, with Danny Rowe coming in for his first start since December, while Gozie Ugwu started up front with Stephen McGinn and Garry Thompson dropping to the bench.

Wanderers looked to begin brightly against a Pompey defence which had shipped five goals in the previous week and found a couple of early openings, but were unable to test the keeper.

Gareth Evans should have done better at the other end as he raced into the box to meet a through-ball but he elected to cross rather than shoot and his low ball was cleared easily with no team-mates in support.

Wycombe displayed some eye-pleasing football with Danny Rowe doing an impressive job of shielding the back four and bringing the ball out, and one such move started in their own box with Aaron Pierre’s clearance before they worked it impressively into a shooting chance at the other end.

Gary Roberts then fired into the side netting with the home side favouring a more direct approach, which more often than not was thwarted by the commanding presence of Aaron Pierre and Anthony Stewart, but their best chance arrived midway through the half when Ryan Allsop parried away Marc McNulty’s fierce drive and Danny Hollands’ follow-up lacked power, enabling the keeper to collect.

Roberts were a growing threat and should have scored when he cut inside Danny Rowe but curled his shot high and wide of the goal from 18 yards, and Kal Naismith then missed a sitter when his first touch took him away from the entire defence but he fired haplessly into the ground allowing Allsop to collect.

However, the opening goal arrived a minute later and Wanderers’ offside trap was breached in the left-back slot when Marc McNulty collected Christian Burgess’ forward pass and delivered a low cross which was simple for Roberts to convert from close range, sliding in to convert.

Pompey finished the half on top and almost went two goals ahead with Kal Naismith slammed an effort against the post from just inside the area as the visitors fell asleep from a short corner. The hosts continued to flash a number of dangerous balls across the face of goal and Wanderers did just enough to keep them at bay before the interval.

Gozie Ugwu had the first chance of the second half, glancing Sido Jombati’s cross towards the bottom corner only to see Paul Jones stick out a strong arm to divert it around the post, before Roberts got into the box at the other end but delivered the ball safely into Allsop’s arms.

Wycombe enjoyed long spells of possession inside the Pompey half so the hosts’ second goal came completely against the run of play, and it arrived out of nothing as a route one ball down the left found Conor Chaplin unmarked, and the substitute found the net with an awkward finish.

Aaron Pierre smashed home soon after but the referee had already stopped play for a free-kick to Wycombe just outside the box, and it was the unlikely figure of Sido Jombati who stepped up to take it. The right-back curled the ball nonchalantly into the top corner to halve the deficit with his second goal of the season – the other also being a superb effort at Halifax in the FA Cup.

Chaplin fired into the side-netting as Portsmouth hoped to restore their two-goal cushion but Wanderers had their tails up and came so close to an equaliser when Jombati headed Garry Thompson’s deep cross back into danger and Jason McCarthy’s drilled effort was cleared off the line by a defender.

In typically topsy-turvy fashion, the next chance fell to Portsmouth as Roberts stayed onside to run from deep to hammer the ball at goal, with Allsop making a fine stop to deny him.

Opportunities kept coming as Jones kept out Garry Thompson’s volley from 20 yards and Jason McCarthy was denied on the line from the corner, before Gareth Evans drilled wide as gaps emerged in the Wycombe defence.

The result means Wycombe cannot qualify for the play-offs this season but they left the field at Fratton Park to applause from the away fans who recognised their intent to entertain and give everything they've got in the battle for victory.

Wycombe: Allsop, McCarthy, Jombati, Stewart, Pierre, Harriman (Kretzschmar 72), Bean, Rowe, Sellars (Liburd 82), Hayes (Thompson 70), Ugwu.

Unused subs: Siegrist, Jacobson, McGinn, Sellers.

Portsmouth: Jones, Davies (Freeman 60), Stevens, Burgess, Clarke, Naismith (McGurk 80), Hollands, Doyle, Roberts, Evans, McNulty (Chaplin 60).

Unused subs: Murphy, McGurk, Barton, Smith, Close.

Referee: Dean Whitestone

Attendance: 16,187 (737 from Wycombe)

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