Report: Wycombe 3-3 CheltenhamWycombe were forced to settle for a point in a topsy-turvy affair at Adams Park which saw them turn around a two-goal deficit before letting the Robins back into the game.
Town raced into a two-goal lead through Billy Waters and Harry Pell, but an own goal and Garry Thompson's crisp volley made it all-square at the break, while Cheltenham's Jordan Cranston was sent off for two bookable offences.
The visitors then lost Jack Barthram to a serious injury before Joe Jacobson converted a penalty following a foul on Thompson, but Waters levelled by tapping home a rebound after his penalty was saved by Jamal Blackman.
Gareth Ainsworth made four changes to the starting line-up that won 2-0 at Leyton Orient last week, with Myles Weston and Sam Saunders sitting out through injury while Adebayo Akinfenwa and Luke O’Nien dropped to the bench.
His side were grateful to Jamal Blackman for making an early save to prevent them falling behind as Will Boyle found space to head a James Rowe free-kick goalwards, but the keeper got down well to save and Will De Havilland scrambled the rebound clear ahead of Dan Holman.
But the Robins were ahead soon after when Blackman again made a smart save, but this time the loose ball was pounced upon by a red and white shirt and it was Billy Waters who tucked it into the net, after Harry Pell’s fierce low free-kick had been blocked by the Chelsea loanee.
Then Joe Jacobson had to be in the right place at the right time to clear Danny Wright’s goalbound shot after Town worked the ball well from the left, taking full advantage of a slack start from the hosts.
Wanderers’ first chance arrived when Nick Freeman lofted a neat cross to the back post but Sam Wood couldn’t connect cleanly with his volley after the defender had misjudged his leap.
But it didn’t take long for the Robins to double their advantage, and it was all too easy for Harry Pell to sidefoot home from a low pass from the left, leaving the home fans scratching their heads to say the least.
Dominic Gape was booked for a foul on Kyle Storer before hope arrived in the form of a well-timed own goal, with a defender meeting Michael Harriman’s cross with an outstretched toe in front of the keeper to make it 2-1 with just 22 minutes played.
The goal at least took away some of the anxiety around Adams Park with the Blues looking more resilient at the back, and there was a half-chance of an equaliser when Nick Freeman’s excellent cross was turned goalwards and blocked by Storer six yards out.
Then Sam Wood pounced on a loose ball to drive forward and shoot low under pressure, but debutant Robins keeper Rob Lainton held onto it by his feet.
Town striker Danny Wright saw yellow for a foul on Joe Jacobson before Dan Holman produced some neat footwork to tee up a chance for himself from 20 yards, only to see his left-footed drive miss the post by a yard.
Jacobson delivered a teasing free-kick which just evaded Will De Havilland and Aaron Pierre after Town defender Jordan Cranston was shown a yellow card for kicking the ball away, and moments later he was heading for the tackle for a mis-timed challenge on Matt Bloomfield, earning him a second booking.
All of a sudden Wycombe had their tails up, and they were level by the break. Jacobson’s long throw was flicked on at the near post and Thompson arrived at the back stick to hammer the ball home on the volley.
Cheltenham made a substitution just before the interval as part of a tactical shift, bringing on full-back Jack Barthram for James Rowe, and there were more changes to follow, with Gareth Ainsworth introducing Adebayo Akinfenwa for Dominic Gape at the break, while Town brought on the lofty Tin Plavotic to deal with him as Carl Winchester made way.
Wycombe began the second period brightly, and came close when Lainton did well to race from his line to block Dayle Southwell’s chance, but Jack Barthram was badly hurt in the incident as he slid in attempt to stop the shot. Aaron Downes came on after a lengthy stoppage as the Robins were forced to use all three subs within five minutes of game time.
The next chance fell the way of Will Boyle, whose firm header from a free-kick was straight at Blackman, before Southwell fired over on the turn after Garry Thompson had returned a corner towards the six-yard box.
It was to be Southwell’s last involvement as Scott Kashket came on for his first appearance in almost two months, and his first touches almost brought about a goal when he danced away from his marker and drilled goalwards from distance, seeing his shot deflect just wide.
Then Wycombe looked to turn the screw in the hunt for a winner, with Lainton holding Sam Wood’s shot from 25 yards, and then Akinfenwa chested down a long ball and fired towards the bottom corner, only being denied by the keeper’s outstretched hand.
Then assistant referee Lisa Rashid came to the visitors’ rescue, raising a flag to indicate Thompson’s cross had gone out of play before Wood converted Akinfenwa’s knockdown, before Emmanuel Onariase’s clearing header landed narrowly wide of his own goal as Harriman’s cross.
From the resulting corner, Wanderers were awarded a spot-kick after Garry Thompson was shoved in the back with two hands, and Joe Jacobson did the honours, completing the turnaround with a confident penalty which sent the keeper the wrong way.
Wycombe were 12th before the ball was kicked, and 8th once it hit the net, indicating how tightly contested the promotion race is. But then matters swung the other way, with Danny Wright being tripped in the Wanderers area by Michael Harriman, and Billy Waters made it 3-3, poking home the rebound after his initial spot-kick was saved by Blackman.
A job still to do then for the Chairboys, and Paul Hayes was introduced up front with defender Will De Havilland making way.
He had a chance three minutes into 11 minutes of stoppage time, when Lainton rushed from his line to meet Akinfenwa’s flick-on. Kashket got there first, and the ball broke for Hayes, but his poked effort rolled into the side-netting with two Town defenders covering on the line anyway.
There was a golden chance on the counter attack at the other end when Wright fired wide of the post after checking inside, but neither side could find the winner which leaves Wycombe with an uphill task to reach the top seven with just five games to play.
50/50 Draw Results
Blue £1 No: 47078
Orange £2 No: 47751