Wycombe returned to winning ways with a hard fought but deserved 2-1 victory over struggling Grimsby.
The visitors led at half-time after a 15th minute strike from Martyn Woolford, but Adam El-Abd’s first goal for the club and Scott Kashket’s first in a year – in the space of eight second half minutes – ensured the three points belonged to the Chairboys, who stay third in League Two after a first home win in five.
Wanderers shaded the opening exchanges but ventures forward from Scott Kashket – making his first start since the last day of 2016/17 – and Michael Harriman – starting for the first time since October – ultimately posed no real threat.
It wasn’t long before Adebayo Akinfenwa got in on the action, although his header across the six-yard box was dealt with easily by the Mariners.
It didn’t take too long for Randell Williams to register an effort on his Chairboys debut, as he blazed a speculative effort over from just outside the box, before a Kashket cross from the right almost led to an opener, with the Town defence managing to scramble the ball clear.
The visitors then had their first real opening, but Scott Brown was able to comfortably hold Martyn Woolford’s low shot from inside the box.
A Joe Jacobson free-kick from the right at the other end led to nothing as the Blues continued to push for the opener, before Woolford took his chance after a quarter of an hour, beating Harriman down the left and firing a well-placed low shot past Brown.
With Grimsby continuing to sit deep, another Jacobson free-kick – this time from the left – momentarily threatened to cause trouble. Akinfenwa then saw his shot deflected behind shortly after as Wycombe kept up the pressure they’d been applying prior to the goal.
The Mariners threatened again after taking the ball up the pitch from the resulting corner, but a low ball across the area was easily dealt with and the Chairboys were able to come away with it.
Williams went close again after some neat link-up play with the Dominic Gape on the right-wing, playing in Gape to cross before heading into the hands of Town ‘keeper James McKeown. The visitors then threatened again as Luke Summerfield whipped in an enticing cross from the right, only for Harriman to avert the danger by heading it out for a throw-in.
Watford loanee Williams was involved again when he brought a good save out of McKeown with a low effort from 18 yards out, before the Mariners almost broke through on goal, only for Mitch Rose to be thwarted by Sido Jombati.
Wanderers then had the ball in the net, but Kashket’s header from barely a yard out – after Akinfenwa’s initial effort was deflected – was rightly disallowed for offside.
Summerfield then went close for Town with a decent header but the Blues were again able to deal with the danger and continue to push for the equaliser. Akinfenwa was next to go for goal, although his slightly speculative strike from just outside the box was easily held by McKeown.
Kashket was soon at it again, breaking with the ball after Jombati had headed a Town free-kick clear, before ultimately hitting a poor low shot from the right of the box.
McKeown was then forced into a brilliant save from Akinfenwa, diving low to his left to keep out the a close-range shot, after the original effort had been blocked. A free-kick soon followed for shirt-pulling on the Beast, but Jombati hit the dead ball straight into the Town wall.
HALF-TIME: WYCOMBE 0-1 GRIMSBY
Wycombe began the second half by applying good pressure with a number of long balls, but the equaliser continued to elude them. An unnecessary coming together between Mariners left-back Andrew Fox and Luke O’Nien then resulted in a booking apiece.
The home domination continued and Akinfenwa went agonisingly close to levelling things up when he headed a floated ball from Harriman off the top of the bar and behind. Kashket was then unable to get a clean shot off after some skilful play inside the box, and Grimsby again cleared.
But the equaliser did come on the hour mark. Jacobson’s exquisite free-kick from the right was dealt with but only momentarily, as in-form skipper Adam El-Abd smashed home his first goal for Wycombe with a no-nonsense strike from about 12 yards out. Game on.
With the Mariners firmly camped inside their own half – or even 18-yard box – the Blues’ second arrived just seven minutes later. Jombati’s flick-on from Jacobson’s perfectly weighted corner reached Kashket, who couldn’t miss with a stooping header at the far post from a couple of yards out. It was first goal since the 1-0 home win over Cambridge on the final day of last season.
Akinfenwa was eyeing his 19th of the season again soon after the restart, but his powerful hit from the edge of area flashed wide. The visitors then grew back into the game somewhat, winning a couple of corners, only for the big man to prove his versatility by dealing with both of them, before Mitch Rose came within inches of an equaliser with a low shot across goal.
Down the other end, substitute Nathan Tyson drilled a tempting ball across the box, only for it to evade everyone, but Wycombe were continuing to push hard for a third and a two-goal cushion.
Akinfenwa came closer still to breaking his own single season scoring record when McKeown recovered well to keep out a rebound with a good low stop, after Luke O’Nien had initially taken advantage of a defensive slip-up from Town.
Wanderers were looking well placed to secure the win but the Mariners weren’t done just yet; Jamille Matt might have done better from six yards out but Dominic Gape nonetheless did well to help keep the lead intact with a crucial last-ditch tackle.
A Grimsby corner brought McKeown up as the visitors rolled the dice one last time, but any danger was easily dealt with. Tyson then went close to a third but his driving effort sailed past the far post as Wycombe held on for another important win in the push for promotion.
Attendance: 5,215 (377 Grimsby)
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