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Match Reports

Report: Crewe 2-3 Wycombe

Late, late drama at Gresty Road.

20 January 2018

Craig Mackail-Smith grabbed a dramatic last-minute winner to secure a 3-2 win in a topsy-turvy affair at Crewe Alexandra.

Chris Porter's penalty gave the hosts a half-time lead but the Chairboys turned the game on its head thanks to Paris Cowan-Hall's smart finish and Nathan Tyson's simple tap-in.

Crewe debutant substitute Harry McKirdy looked to have secured a point for his new side but Mackail-Smith chased a lost cause and poked home to rack up a third successive win.

Gareth Ainsworth made two changes to the side that defeated Colchester last weekend, with Sam Saunders missing out through injury while Craig Mackail-Smith dropped to the bench to accommodate an extra midfielder, as Marcus Bean and Dominic Gape came into the starting XI.

There was a poignant minute’s silence ahead of kick-off for ex-Wanderers striker Cyrille Regis, who passed away earlier this week, having scored in the Blues’ only previous league win at Gresty Road back in 1994.

Wycombe made a bright start, winning a free-kick and retaining a threat high up the pitch which resulted in Gape’s powerful goalbound shot deflecting to safety, and shortly after, a fine passing move created an opening when Adebayo Akinfenwa nodded the ball on for Paris Cowan-Hall to hit the target, but keeper Ben Garratt held comfortably.

But disaster struck at the other end when Nathan McGinley took a heavy touch inside his own box and had the ball nicked off his toes by Charlie Kirk, only for the defender to trip his man and give the referee no option but to award a penalty. Scott Brown dived the right way but Chris Porter’s strike carried too much power, giving Crewe a lead inside seven minutes.

Gape volleyed over at the other end as Wycombe looked for a quick response, before Crewe counter-attacked quickly and Brown needed to be alert to smother Callum Ainley’s dangerous low cross.

Wanderers were enjoying more of the possession, with Crewe sitting deep and relying on skipper Michael Raynes to head clear a succession of crosses, though Paris Cowan-Hall found enough space to flash an effort just wide from 20 yards.

Then the visitors carved out an excellent chance following another passing move, culminating in Cowan-Hall’s low cross falling for Luke O’Nien, but the midfielder could only poke the ball over the bar as he reacted quickly to meet it.

A harshly-awarded free-kick gave Crewe a sight of goal when both Marcus Bean and Akinfenwa poked the ball clear following a block from Brown, but the chance stayed alive and Eddie Nolan headed wide from a cross.

Action swung to the other end where Cowan-Hall’s low shot deflected wide for a corner, and shortly after, Gape’s well-struck volley was blocked behind as the Blues imposed their superiority despite the scoreline.

Crewe suffered a setback when scorer Chris Porter – rushed back into the side with pain-killing injections after an injury – was forced off on 33 minutes, as Jordan Bowery took his place.

Akinfenwa chested down and volleyed wide as opportunities continued to fall Wycombe’s way, and they continued to apply pressure up until the half-time whistle, being unfortunate to trail at the break but knowing they needed to find the next gear to test the keeper more in the second period.

There were no changes in personnel in the interval, but Wycombe remained on the front foot, winning a series of corners but not quite being able to find the killer touch.

Eddie Nolan was booked for obstructing a throw-in before Wanderers’ pressure told with the equaliser on 61 minutes – a second goal in two games for Paris Cowan-Hall. Matt Bloomfield was barged to the floor and Akinfenwa nodded Jacobson’s free-kick into the path of the Wycombe attacker, who made no mistake with a tidy finish from eight yards.

Ainsworth then introduced Nathan Tyson for Cowan-Hall and Mackail-Smith for Bloomfield in a bid to go on and win the game, switching to a 4-3-3 set-up, while Crewe handed a debut to Villa loanee Harry McKirdy in place of Lewis Reilly.

Charlie Kirk shinned an effort over the bar after a clever cross evaded Tafari Moore with the game opening up, as Crewe enjoyed their best spell in the game.

They made their final sub, bringing on Newcastle loanee Daniel Barlaser for the impressive Kirk, before Scott Kashket replaced Dominic Gape, who moments earlier had gone to ground under contact in the Crewe box, though no penalty was given.

And then came Wycombe’s second, courtesy of the easiest finish of Nathan Tyson’s career. Akinfenwa was involved again, controlling a cross into the path of McGinley, whose ball across the face of goal was bundled onto the post by a combination of Mackail-Smith and his marker, and Tyson was able to prod home with ease from less than a yard out.

But there were still twists to come. Ryan Wintle’s effort from distance swerved en route to goal and Scott Brown could only parry into the path of McKirdy, who tapped into the empty net from close range.

Brown stuck out a leg moments later to crucially divert Zoumana Bakayogo’s shot past the post, and then tipped a header over the crossbar from the resulting corner.

And then, in stoppage time, came a dramatic climax as Brown’s long kick was headed poorly towards his own goal by Michael Raynes and Mackail-Smith nipped him in to poke it past the keeper, with the ball taking an age to cross the line.

The celebrations were euphoric, and they continued past the final whistle as Wanderers made it three wins in a row.

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