Wycombe’s perfect start to 2018 came to an end on Saturday as they were held 1-1 by Exeter City in a fiercely contested draw. The draw means that there are still four points separating the sides as Wycombe drop down to third with the Grecians clinging on to the final play-off spot with a game in hand on all the teams above them.
The game struggled to get going in the opening 10 minutes with both teams failing to keep the ball on the ground and retain purposeful possession. However, a 12th minute freekick from the left side saw Lloyd James’ whipped ball evade any touch to find its way into the far post, gifting Exeter a slightly fortuitous lead.
A few minutes later Wycombe’s woes were compounded as promising young centre-back Dan Scarr limped off with a hamstring injury to be replaced by Nathan McGinley. Wycombe seemed buoyed by the injury and began to build pressure down the right side with Dean Moxey struggling to deal with the pace of Paris Cowan-Hall. Cowan-Hall found no luck, however, as his crosses remained unconverted with both Adebayo Akinfenwa and Matt Bloomfield heading wide.
the grecians came close to bagging a second
City came back into the game towards the end of the half with Moxey shanking a ball over the back fence following a poor clearance from a corner. The Grecians thought they might have had a second going into the break as Jayden Stockley flicked on a long throw which trickled tantalising past the far post begging for a Jordan Tillson touch.
Despite having the lead Exeter’s first half ended on a sour note as a blow to the face of the much-praised Jordan Stockley saw him leave the field to be replaced by Craig Woodman. Despite the injury Exeter were pleased to go into the break with a slender lead
Gareth Ainsworth’s team talk had clearly worked for the Blues as Wycombe started quickly, with Christy Pym displaying his acrobatics to tip Cowan-Hall’s strike past the post. Goal-keeping heroics were put on hold 5 minutes later as numerous ricochets in the box saw the ball eventually fall to Marcus Bean who slotted a right-footed shot past Exeter number one’s right side to level on 53 minutes. Bean thought he might have another one four minutes later but Pym got down to his left to prevent the Jamaican.
pym’s heroics only prevented the inevtiable
The next 10 minutes seemed to be dominated by Lee Holmes as he saw his left-footed effort from the edge of the box fizz past the post before a second attempt was blocked a few minutes later. The Shed End got excited as Holmes went down in the box looking for a penalty, but referee Stephen Martin was not to be fooled and promptly brandished his yellow card to the number 10 for a dive.
The game flowed back in the way of Wycombe and Akinfenwa really should have done better when he headed wide in the 65th minute. He would have done well to beat Pym however who was yet again on top form to keep hold of Nathan Tyson’s strike. With Wycombe in the ascendancy Paul Tisdale was aware of the need to make changes with Ryan Harley replacing already booked Holmes in the 67th minute and Kyle Edwards replacing Liam McAliden in the 73rd.
Ainsworth also decided to change things up with a surprising decision to replace dangerous winger Cowan-Hill with the experience of Craig Mackail-Smith. Almost instantly after the change a clumsy foul by Moxey on Matt Bloomfield led to freekick in a dangerous area for Wycombe. The wall did its job and kept the score line level with 15 minutes to go.
sweeney wasted a gilt-edged chance
As the game entered the last 10 minutes a great chance fell the way of Pierce Sweeney who saw his effort swept away by a last gasp El-Abd tackle. Down the other end a long ball through to Tyson was failed to be converted by the pacey winger, which proved to be his last action of the game as Nick Freeman replaced him with 7 minutes left.
Exeter had the best of the last few minutes of the game with volleys from Tillson and Sweeney both failing to find their way past Scott Brown in the last five minutes. The two teams threw everything at each other in the four minutes added on but both failed to create any meaningful chances with game ending all square.
Overall, Christy Pym’s acrobatics in goal was the standout performance for Paul Tisdale’s men in a well-fought point for the Grecians against an impressive Wycombe side. Despite losing nine balls in the match, City can take a lot from the point and more performances like this in the back end of the season will surely see them having every chance of promotion come the end of the season.