Wycombe Wanderers ran riot with a 4-1 victory over Preston North End in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup, with Fred Onyedinma, Joe Jacobson, Josh Knight and Alex Samuel all on target.
Emil Riis’s spot-kick had pulled the score back to 3-1 just before the interval but Gareth Ainsworth’s men stepped up the pressure again in the second period to secure their passage into round four.
Ainsworth made five changes to the team that faced Middlebrough the previous week in a 3-1 loss, with new loan signing Admiral Muskwe making his first appearance for the club. Matt Bloomfield, Onyedinma, Dennis Adeniran and Jason McCarthy were back into the side.
Preston responded with a short period of pressure, putting Wycombe’s back line under pressure and winning a corner which was initially cleared, but only far enough for the Preston striker to take a pop, which Allsop was alert to and comfortably collected. Minutes later the Preston pressure paid off for them again, as another shot took a deflection off Tafazolli and rattled the crossbar.
It didn’t take long for Wycombe to pick up their tempo again, as some neat play originating from the Wycombe midfield gave Ikpeazu the opportunity to drive into the box from the right hand side. Preston’s Josh Earl struggled to deal with the turn of pace, and a sharp push in the back was enough to see the referee award a penalty to the Chairboys. Jacobson stepped up to the spot and coolly converted to see Wycombe go two up unanswered. 2-0 Wycombe.
The second goal seemed to spur Preston into another bout of possession as Brad Potts was able to feed Riis down the left-hand side. Shortly after, a header from deep nearly played in the Preston #19 again, but Wycombe were wise to the danger and crowded the ball out.
Some positive play in the centre of the park saw Preston give away a free kick. A lofted ball into the right-hand corner by set-piece maestro Jacobson was well picked up by McCarthy, who was able to whip a cross low into the box. Josh Knight was on hand to slot the ball low and hard past Connor Ripley to score his first goal for the club on minute 25. 3-0 Wycombe.
Confidence breeds confidence and Wycombe certainly looked the more dangerous side as the first half ticked on. Ripley was called into action a number of times to keep out corners whipped in by Jacobson, one of which made it agonisingly close to crossing the line before it was cleared away by the Preston centre-back.
Unfortunately, the confidence and class that Wycombe were showing was to get a knock in the dying minutes of the first half. A long, searching ball from the Preston midfield saw Riis make chase, and Allsop’s attempt to clear saw him clatter the green shirt late. The referee pulled out the yellow card and pointed to the spot for the second time in 45. Riis was able to slot it past Allsop to reduce the deficit. 3-1 Wycombe.
Both Wycombe and Preston struggled to stamp their mark on the game as the second half kicked off, with neither team having any clear-cut chances. Ripley was called into action to keep out a Wycombe corner, with the fog descending on Adams Park potentially making things a little more difficult for the Preston shot-stopper.
Minute 58 saw Ainsworth make his first change of the afternoon, bringing on ex-Preston man Daryl Horgan for Bloomfield. It didn’t take too long for Horgan to make his mark, as received a yellow two minutes after he came on.
Ainsworth began to ring in the changes as the half went on as Adeniran, Muskwe and Ikpeaku made way for Dominic Gape, Adebayo Akinfenwa and Samuel. Akinfenwa went on to slip through a fantastic ball to the left hand side with one of his first touches. Samuel was on the other end of it, but was denied by the onrushing Ripley.
However, it didn’t take too much longer for Samuel to get on the scoresheet, as some great individual strength and skill by Horgan sees him able to find the #25 who makes no mistake in slotting the ball home this time around.
Horgan continued to get into dangerous positions, picking up the ball on the edge of the box and hitting a tantalising curled effort towards the bottom corner which ricocheted off the post.
With fog descending on the pitch, the game got progressively more stretched, as Preston searched for the goals that would keep them in the cup. However, Wycombe were able to continue the pressure and see the game out. Final score 4-1 to Wycombe and through to the fourth round!