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Match Reports

Report: Shrewsbury 2-1 Wycombe

Late turnaround consigns Chairboys to defeat in Shropshire.

16 March 2019

Late goals from Omar Beckles and Ollie Norburn left Wanderers dragged firmly into a relegation battle as Shrewsbury came from behind to record a first league win over the Chairboys in 25 years.

Jason McCarthy opened the scoring with a stunning free-kick after a goalless first half, but Town came back with a vengeance, firstly equalising through Beckles' header and then winning the points through Norburn's penalty after a trip by Adam El-Abd.

Gareth Ainsworth took a bold approach to his line-up, making six changes from the side that lost 3-1 to Accrington Stanley in midweek – most notably in goal, where Yves Ma-Kalambay replaced Ryan Allsop for his first EFL start.

Meanwhile there were recalls for Joe Jacobson, Anthony Stewart, Dominic Gape, Marcus Bean and Luke Bolton after a combination of injuries and suspension, prompting a 4-3-3 formation with Alex Samuel leading the line in attack, seven days after doing so impeccably in the 1-1 draw with Sunderland.

Shrewsbury came into the game hovering nervously above the drop zone having collected only three league wins in 17 since new boss Sam Ricketts took to the helm, while their wait to record a league victory over the Chairboys stretched back almost 25 years.

Blustery conditions contributed to a scrappy start, with neither defence taking any risks when it came to clearing the ball quickly to avoid getting caught out.

The first opening fell to the hosts, and it was a first test for Ma-Kalambay, diving to his right to keep out Shaun Whalley’s low shot after former Chairboy Aaron Amadi-Holloway had nodded a cross into his path.

Adam El-Abd, on his return to the Shropshire club, cleared a dangerous header from James Bolton after Ollie Norburn’s corner hung in the air, but then the Blues began to find their rhythm and carved out two opportunities which was excellently denied by another former Wycombe player, Steve Arnold in goal.

Firstly Jason McCarthy whipped in a perfect low cross which found its way through to Paris Cowan-Hall at the back post, but his prodded effort was denied by the knee of the Town keeper. Then Ro-Shaun Williams horribly sliced a clearance into his own six-yard box and although Alex Samuel made excellent contact, Arnold flung out an arm to divert the ball over the bar.

Luke Waterfall headed harmlessly wide at the other end before Scott Golbourne – a loanee at Adams Park in the 2006/07 campaign – saw yellow for a trip on McCarthy down the right.

Then Dominic Gape let fly with a long-range effort which was a comfortable height for Arnold to hold away to his right, before the same player connected well with a half-cleared header from Joe Jacobson’s free-kick, but again it was too close to Arnold.

There was one more chance in stoppage time and after the hosts failed to clear another free-kick, Luke Bolton delivered a teasing cross which was headed powerfully on target by Anthony Stewart, but denied by the lower leg of the keeper.

Shrewsbury were forced into a change just before the hour-mark when centre-half Luke Waterfall left the pitch with an injury, being replaced by Omar Beckles, but their fans began to tire of their side’s lethargy and inability to retain possession, airing their frustrations at manager Sam Ricketts.

The game was in a lull, not aided by the weather, and Luke Bolton found he was unable to continue after twice going down holding a leg muscle, prompting Gareth Ainsworth to introduce Nick Freeman from the bench.

But the lull was ended in style, courtesy of a first goal of the season from Jason McCarthy, bending home a free-kick in spectacular fashion. Alex Samuel was tripped on the corner of the area and McCarthy – recently handed set-piece duties at inswinging opportunities – curled the ball sublimely into the top corner, giving Arnold no chance.

Shrewsbury responded by bringing off Tyrese Campbell for Fejiri Okenabirhie, who netted in the reverse fixture in November, but it was Amadi-Holloway who had the next chance, lashing over the bar at the end of a good run from Shaun Whalley.

Alex Samuel drilled wide at the other end after combative play from a host of Wanderers players determined to keep a chance alive, before Oliver Norburn was booked for a bad foul after the whistle had already gone.

The rain began to hammer down, contributing to a pretty miserable atmosphere all round, but for the Blues, there was a big job to do to see out the victory.

Shrewsbury’s last throw of the dice was to bring on Greg Docherty, in place of Dave Edwards, before Joe Jacobson was booked for a trip on Whalley with eight minutes remaining.

And then it got nervy. Anthony Stewart headed clear a dangerous cross to the back post, and Marcus Bean blocked a piledriver from Norburn, before the leveller came. It was another deep free-kick which found Omar Beckles unmarked, and he guided a header expertly into the far corner to give Ma-Kalambay no chance.

So it was game on for the final few moments. Michael Harriman came off the bench to replace Paris Cowan-Hall, though the home fans felt it was they that had the impetus after their equaliser.

Ma-Kalambay held a dangerous low cross from Docherty before referee Trevor Kettle pointed to the spot when Whalley danced into the box and tripped over the outstretched leg of Adam El-Abd. It was down to Ollie Norburn to complete the turnaround, and he did so, rolling the ball home as Ma-Kalambay dived the wrong way.

Matt Bloomfield replaced Curtis Thompson with just seconds left on the clock, but it was too little too late – Wanderers’ long wait for a win goes on as they were left to rue another late sucker-punch for the second Saturday in succession.

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