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Match Reports

Report: Wycombe 2-4 Notts County

Nick Freeman and Joe Jacobson on target but the Blues fall to defeat.

19 August 2017

Wanderers succumbed to a 4-2 home loss to Notts County as the Magpies took advantage of defensive errors to consign the hosts to defeat.

Nick Freeman and Joe Jacobson had wiped out County's first-half lead, handed to them by Richard Duffy and a Luke O'Nien own goal, but Jonathan Forte and Lewis Alessandra ensured the points would be heading up the M1.

Gareth Ainsworth made three changes to his starting line-up with injuries keeping Nathan Tyson, Paris Cowan-Hall and Sam Saunders sidelined, so Paul Hayes, Dayle Southwell and Matt Bloomfield were called into action.

Luke O’Nien almost wriggled free into the box inside three minutes but lost his footing at a vital moment, before Michael Harriman performed heroics at the other end, denying Shaun Brisley’s free header with a miraculous goal-line clearance, flying through the air to divert it over the bar with his head.

In a fast-tempo and direct start, both sides earned corners and the Magpies had another sight of goal when Jon Stead flashed a header over the bar from a set-piece, but Wanderers didn’t heed the warning and fell behind to a simple free header granted to Richard Duffy, steering Dan Jones’ free-kick into the bottom corner.

Matters got worse just two minutes later and it was the unfortunate Luke O’Nien whose name was written onto the scoresheet for scoring an own goal, though he could do nothing about it. Scott Brown spilled Jones’ low cross into the six-yard box and Adam El-Abd’s hurried clearance smacked into his team-mate and rebounded into the net to make it 2-0.

A shell-shocked Wycombe looked for a quick response and upped their game to put County on the back foot for a spell, though Adebayo Akinfenwa couldn’t quite stretch enough to divert Dayle Southwell’s flick-on goalwards following Michael Harriman’s clever cross.

Then Dan Jones’ rash challenge on O’Nien was punished by a yellow card with the Blues midfielder finding himself in the wars throughout the first half, before Southwell came close to prodding home a loose ball from six yards out after a long throw fell his way, but it was cleared in the nick of time.

Harriman’s intervention was required again on the goal-line when a County header bounced towards goal, and his energy up and down the flank provided some cheer for the home fans as he threatened an equaliser with a low shot from 25 yards, though Adam Collin was equal to it and held.

O’Nien attempted a similar effort from further out in first-half stoppage time, but again the keeper was untroubled, leaving the Blues with an uphill struggle to salvage anything from the game in the second period.

Gareth Ainsworth acted by making two half-time changes, introducing Nick Freeman and debutant Craig Mackail-Smith for Dayle Southwell and Paul Hayes, while the ref had his notebook out again to hand a yellow card to Dominic Gape for a foul.

Hope arrived just four minutes into the second period, when Nick Freeman halved the deficit with a superb first ever EFL goal. Mackail-Smith worked hard to win a throw high up the pitch, from which Harriman’s deep cross was nudged out to the left-hand side of the box and Freeman returned the ball into the top corner with a sumptuous first-time strike.

County reacted well to quell momentum but Mackail-Smith could have levelled before the hour-mark, finding space to meet Harriman’s left-footed cross but sending a free header straight at Collin.

Akinfenwa then mistimed a shot from Jacobson’s clever free-kick as Wanderers began to build up a head of steam, and the equaliser arrived in stunning fashion with a quarter of the game remaining.

Jacobson was always going to be the leading contender to take a free-kick dead centre 30 yards out, and his curling effort was inch-perfect, clipping the inside of the post to beat the keeper and complete the comeback.

Confidence was flowing through the hosts and Dom Gape fancied his luck from distance, but arrowed his effort a couple of yards over the top, before Akinfenwa planted a header narrowly wide from Bloomfield’s perfectly floated cross.

Kevin Nolan made two changes after being pegged back to 2-2, introducing Lewis Alessandra for Terry Hawkridge after Jonathan Forte had replaced Jon Stead, but the pendulum seemed to be swinging the way of the hosts who were playing like a different team from the one that under-performed in the opening 45 minutes.

Freeman’s low cross was cut out after smart control and a pass from Harriman, but Wanderers were then undone by more sloppy marking from a set-piece for County’s third.

Dan Jones whipped in a free-kick to the back post and the ball was returned into the six-yard box to give Jonathan Forte the simple opportunity to nod home.

Jack Williams came on for Matt Bloomfield in a final throw of the dice, but the visitors sealed the points when Grant’s low cross towards the near post was turned onto the frame of the goal by Brown but Shola Ameobi pounced to keep the chance alive and Alessandra hammered it into the net from a matter of inches.

Adam El-Abd was booked in stoppage time following a coming together in the Magpies’ box, but there was no further incident as the hosts were left to lament defensive lapses which saw their second-half efforts come undone.

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