Report: Colchester 1-0 WycombeWanderers fell to defeat at the hands of Colchester United as George Elokobi's first-half goal separated the sides in Essex.
The centre-back found the top corner with a powerful effort from outside the box as Wycombe were made to pay for a slow start, but the visitors responded well and were unfortunate not to level through significant chances for Adebayo Akinfenwa and Paris Cowan-Hall.
Gareth Ainsworth watched on from the stands after being issued with a one-match touchline ban as a result of a charge of misconduct which followed last week’s game at Crewe, and he made one change to his starting line-up as Marcus Bean took the place of Dominic Gape in midfield.
Wanderers almost fell behind inside five minutes when Brennan Dickenson muscled his way past Michael Harriman to break into the box, but dragged his shot wide over the far post with only Jamal Blackman to beat.
The Chairboys fans then sang the name of Paul McCarthy throughout a minute’s applause for the Wycombe hero who had tragically passed away the day before.
The deadlock was broken on 12 minutes – and in spectacular fashion – from the unlikely source of George Elokobi. The United defender fired speculatively at goal from outside the box and saw the ball fly into the top corner, leaving Blackman with no chance.
Then Richard Brindley saw a low cross-shot fly across the face of goal before landing wide, before the visitors began to turn momentum the other way, seeing a succession of dangerous crosses test the United defence, while keeper Sam Walker needed to be alert to tip Paris Cowan-Hall’s shot-on-the-turn over the bar.
Alex Jakubiak grew into the game, having had an earlier snapshot saved comfortably by Walker, and two dangerous cross-shots threatened the hosts but both landed to safety.
The visitors’ best chance to level came just two minutes before the interval, when Michael Harriman’s deep cross was headed on by Akinfenwa and struck a defender, but when the loose ball landed into the path of the striker, he could only sidefoot over.
Gareth Ainsworth brought on Max Muller at the break, replacing Will De Havilland who had been booked in the first half, and the Chairboys were almost level inside three minutes when Sam Saunders delivered a cross into a perfect area for Akinfenwa to attack, but the header was too close to Sam Walker who saved.
Akinfenwa was again involved when he laid the ball off for Saunders to shoot goalwards, only for the ball to be blocked into the path of Cowan-Hall, who drilled wide from a tight angle.
Wycombe’s pressure only mounted and they came close when Cowan-Hall showed tremendous desire to firstly beat Richard Brindley to a bouncing ball and then throw himself to head bravely past the onrushing keeper, only for Elokobi to make a vital intervention on the line.
From the resulting throw, the ball reached Akinfenwa just outside the post and his stabbed effort was again cleared from danger on the line as United breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Wanderers introduced Garry Thompson in place of Alex Jakubiak on the hour-mark, and the pattern of play continued – mostly one-way traffic, although United almost had a second goal when good forward play by Chris Porter set up a chance for Kurtis Guthrie, whose low shot was tipped wide by Blackman.
United were able to stem the tide and alleviate the pressure on their own defence by finding another gear up front, forcing another save from Blackman when Sean Murray found space to shoot from 20 yards.
Then Kurtis Guthrie was denied by Michael Harriman’s goal-line clearance after the striker headed goalwards from a corner, before Wanderers’ task was made harder when Joe Jacobson was shown a second yellow card and sent from the pitch for a foul on Tarique Fosu as the striker broke away.
Three minutes of stoppage time brought about one final chance with Akinfenwa's header from a corner being cleared off the line, but it was the U's who took all three points, leaving Wycombe needing to return to winning ways when Crawley visit Adams Park on Saturday.