Wycombe put in a superb display at League 1 Northampton to run out 3-0 winners as they kicked of their Checkatrade Trophy campaign in style.
A first half strike from Danny Rowe gave Wanderers the perfect start, before a deserved second goal early in the second half from Paul Hayes gained control of the game. Garry Thompson rounded things off in injury time, finishing a counter attack following a through ball from Gareth Ainsworth (yes, really).
Gareth made five changes to the side that lost against Colchester on Saturday, with Will De Havilland, Matt Bloomfield, Stephen McGinn, Nick Freeman and Paul Hayes all coming into the starting line up. Further injury problems meant that Ainsworth had to name himself among the substitutes.
The home side had most of the early play, forcing a couple of corners that the Wycombe defence dealt with comfortably, but the Blues offered their own attacking threat, particularly through the surging runs of Bloomfield from deep.
The first effort of the match landed on the head of Northampton’s Lawson D’Ath, who glanced a header wide of Jamal Blackman’s far post on 11 minutes from a deep cross from Cobblers skipper David Buchanan.
Great pressure from Dayle Southwell allowed him to nick the ball from Northampton full back Aaron Phillps following a Jombati clearance on 15, with the Wanderers forward cutting inside only to shoot tamely at David Cornell. Bloomfield stung the keeper’s palms moments later with a long range piledriver, and it was third time lucky as the Blues took the lead from the resulting corner.
Stephen McGinn’s delivery eluded several players at the near post and landed at the feet of Danny Rowe who smartly tucked the ball home from inside the six yard box.
Wycombe showed plenty of attacking threat, looking to get the ball forward quickly and use the pace of Southwell to trouble the experienced duo of Zander Diamond and Lewin Nyatanga at the heart of the Northampton defence, and also looked solid defensively as they pressed Northampton and didn’t allow them space and time on the ball.
And Bloomfield so nearly made it 2-0 on 34 as he thundered an effort against the base of the post. Southwell stole the ball from Byrom 40 yards from goal and laid it off to Freeman. The former Histon man passed to Bloomfield who hit an angled shot past the stranded Cornell but it bounced to safety off the post.
Southwell was the next man to have an effort on goal five minutes later, receiving a pass from McGinn 25 yards out, turning and firing a low left footed effort just wide of Cornell’s left hand post.
Wycombe deservedly led at half time, but it could have been all square had Jamal Blackman not done well to get down low and save Nyatanga’s header from a Harry Beautyman free kick as the play entered stoppage time.
And the Wanderers came out of the traps in the second half, taking only two minutes to double the lead with a superb goal.
Nick Freeman picked the ball up inside his own half and ran forward with the ball, eventually sliding the ball through for Paul Hayes who bore down on goal and scooped a superb finish over the top of Cornell to give Wycombe the second goal that their first half play deserved.
The hosts tried to work their way back into the game and it was their two biggest attacking threats who were trying to create something. Firstly former Chairboy loanee Alex Revell forced Blackman into a low save from his long range shot and Lawson D’Ath dragged a shot wide from 20 yards.
Wycombe contained the threat posed by the Cobblers really well, keeping a tight defensive unit and applying great pressure whenever the home side had the ball. Northampton were restricted to long range shots and set pieces, while the tireless running of Southwell and Freeman constantly posed a threat on the counter attack.
Southwell came agonisingly close to finding a third goal for Wycombe on 83 minutes, as Freeman expertly slid in Bloomfield who unselfishly squared for Southwell but he could only stretch out a boot and steer an effort narrowly wide of the far post.
That would be Southwell’s last contribution as he was replaced by his own manager – Gareth Ainsworth coming on for the final five minutes to make his 601st career appearance more than three years after he last pulled on a Wanderers shirt.
Ainsworth went on one lung bursting run, acting as the pantomime villain among the Northampton fans as he received boos whenever he picked up the ball, but he didn’t have the pace to beat Phillips.
Substitute Emmanuel Sonupe had claims for a penalty waved away after he went down under a challenge from Stewart, picking up a yellow card for simulation in the 88th minute, and the Blues put the icing on the cake with a breakaway third goal deep into injury time.
Ainsworth was left all alone on halfway and he measured a pass to substitute Garry Thompson who controlled and slid an effort underneath the helpless Cornell to make it 3-0.
It was a superb all round performance from Wycombe who ended Northampton’s long unbeaten run in all competitions stretching back to January, and the side now have plenty of positives to build on as they return to league action at Luton Town on Saturday.
Wycombe: Blackman, Jombati, Harriman, Stewart, De Havilland, Rowe, Bloomfield, McGinn, Freeman, Southwell (Ainsworth 85), Hayes (Thompson 74)
Unused subs: Richardson, Pierre, Wood, Akinfenwa
Northampton: Cornell, Phillips, Buchanan, Diamond, Nyatanga, D’Ath (Sonupe 74), Byrom, Beautyman (Gorre 57), McCourt, Revell, Hooper (Hanley 57)
Unused subs: Smith, Moloney, McDonald, Taylor
Attendance: 1,408 (74 Away)