The Chairboys earned a hard-fought three points as they welcomed Preston North End to Adams Park on Saturday. A solid start and intense pressing in the first half saw Ryan Tafazolli get on the end of a number of Joe Jacobson corners, before he broke the deadlock in the 27th minute.
Preston came out fighting in the second half, but Wycombe weathered the storm well, and the introduction of some fresh legs midway through the half was practically seamless as the Chairboys professionally managed the game.
Wycombe made an excellent start - putting Preston under some great pressure. Ryan Tafazolli looked dangerous from set pieces early-on, as two Joe Jacobson corners were met by the Wycombe number six and sent goalwards but to no avail.
Uche Ikpeazu and Anis Mehmeti were quick to turn the Preston North End defence around, with the latter skipping past a number of players on the left-hand side to get a shot away. The shot was off target, but the build-up play and skill shown by the young Chairboy to get past the Preston North End defence was a great omen.
Preston had their first chance of the game following a brief period of possession at the end of the first ten minutes. Ben Whiteman stepped up to take, but his shot was poorly placed and didn’t make it past the wall.
After a brief lull in intensity, Uche went close to grabbing the opener. A lofted ball over the top wasn’t dealt with by the Preston back line, and Daniel Iversen was called into action to keep out the tight-angled shot.
The chance didn’t come to completely nothing though, as the subsequent corner was whipped across the box once more, and this time Tafazolli’s header was powerful and well-placed enough to beat Iverson in the Preston goal.
The Chairboys continued to play with some great intent - moving the ball quickly, spreading the play wide and causing issues at the back. A fantastic link up by Garath McCleary and Anis Mehmeti, saw McCleary able to get a shot away. Close, but no cigar.
The end of the half saw Tafazolli with another chance - our number six looking like a number nine with the number of chances he’d enjoyed. Teed up for a shot on the edge of the box, Tafazolli made great contact on the ball, but it flew high over the bar.
Half time: Wycombe 1-0 Preston North End.
Preston started the second half with a bit more flair than they had exhibited in the first 45 minutes. Three changes for the away side saw Daniel Johnson, Scott Sinclair and Ben Whiteman make way for Brad Potts, Tom Barkhuizen and Paul Gallagher.
A miscued David Stockdale goal kick gave Preston a chance to drive down the right wing early in the second half, and it took a well-timed Jacobson challenge to avert any danger. However, the away side were building up some momentum and possession, which was putting the narrow Wycombe lead in increasing doubt.
The Chairboys were still creating chances, despite the Preston run of possession. Fantastic play between Dominic Gape and McCleary saw Gape’s shot tipped wide in the 65th minute, with Uche inches away from sliding in at the back post.
The away side weren’t taking anything sitting down in the second half though, and Wycombe were lucky to see Brad Potts drag his shot wide when he was through on the left hand side.
The 77th minute saw Gareth Ainsworth make his first change of the game. Dominic Gape, who had been down minutes before, was replaced by Nnamdi Ofoborh. The fresh legs made a difference, and some high pressing nearly saw the substitute through on goal. His selflessness was probably his undoing in this situation, as the final ball saw a turnover and the end of the opportunity.
McCleary and Uche also made way as Jack Grimmer and Admiral Muskwe entered the fray in the 86th minute.
The assistant indicated five minutes to be added on, and Wycombe pushed on. Mehmeti looked to be in space down the left hand side, and his classy skill saw him embarrass his marker and get a stingy shot away - just over the bar.
Full time: Wycombe 1-0 Preston North End