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Match Reports

Report: Wycombe 1-0 Walsall

McCarthy wins it for the Wanderers.

22 April 2019

A stunning free-kick from Jason McCarthy against his former club edged the Blues closer to survival, seeing off Walsall 1-0 at Adams Park.

The right-back curled home an exquisite free-kick in the second period to hand Gareth Ainsworth's men a deserved second victory in three games, taking them to 50 points in the table with two games to play.

Ainsworth named the same side for the fourth game running, confident that his team’s performance at Rochdale three days earlier would reap the rewards of a much-needed three points.

On a baking hot day, neither side were able to settle quickly, with Walsall squandering possession on a number of occasions as they looked to adjust to a largely-reshuffled setup from their Good Friday game, while Wycombe couldn’t break through with the pace and fluid football which had been on show so impressively three days earlier.

Joe Edwards snatched a shot wide on 10 minutes, before Connor Johnson was booked for a foul on Scott Kashket, resulting in a free-kick which bounced off Adebayo Akinfenwa and over the bar from Jason McCarthy’s delivery.

Set pieces looked to be Walsall’s best route to an opener, sitting back with an organised backline, and one long throw fell to Isaiah Osbourne, who couldn’t generate enough power with his shot to trouble Ryan Allsop.

Half-chances kept coming, with Akinfenwa glancing a header wide of the near post, and his best opportunity came from a McCarthy cross, chesting down but smashing the ball just too close to Chris Dunn, who was able to beat it away.

The first half rather petered out with no more action of note, before Walsall saw more of the ball at the start of the second period, with Luke Leahy planting a free header over the bar.

Akinfenwa almost teed up a chance when he returned Michael Harriman’s deep free-kick into danger, with Cameron Norman clearing in the nick of time, before the breakthrough moment arrived in style.

Wanderers’ number 20 had had to wait for a decision in his favour from the referee, but there was no doubting Connor Johnson’s trip on Akinfenwa 20 yards out, dead centre. Jason McCarthy was adamant he’d be the one to take the free-kick, and the former Walsall loanee curled the ball effortlessly into the top corner, giving Chris Dunn no chance as he stood helpless.

Then came a raft of subs, with Walsall bringing on top scorer Andy Cook for Aramide Oteh, and Zeli Ismail for Cameron Norman, while Wycombe replaced Nick Freeman and Dominic Gape with Nathan Tyson and Matt Bloomfield.

Scott Kashket lost his footing at the vital time after breaking into the box having dispossessed Dan Scarr, before Walsall broke and Josh Gordon found room for a shot, though Allsop held it comfortably to his right.

Paris Cowan-Hall was the final man brought into the fray from the Wycombe bench, and he and his team-mates held firm during six minutes of stoppage time to keep the Saddlers at bay and secure three precious points.

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