Wycombe Wanderers 3
Wood 70, Morgan 74, Knott 90
by RICK COWDERY
ARGYLE’S search for a hat-trick of home wins and a place among the early-season play-off contenders proved fruitless as second-half goals by Sam Wood, Dean Morgan and Billy Knott halted the Pilgrims’ recent revival.
The destination of the points was decided in just over four minutes midway through the half as Wood, with a goal that the Pilgrims could do little about, and Morgan, with one that appeared much more preventable, eased Wycombe towards the wining post.
A fine chip in the last minute of injury-time from Knott on the break merely compounded Argyle’s agony.
Manager John Sheridan had made no changes to the Argyle starting XI, sending out the same line-up that had done duty seven days earlier in the 1-0 home win over Bristol Rovers.
Paul Wotton, recovered from a broken rib sustained at Southend on the season’s opening day, and Curtis Nelson, available again after suspension, were named on a substitutes’ bench brimful of talent and experience.
Such is the strength of the Pilgrims’ squad these days that the match-day 18 did not include the likes of Dominic Blizzard and Luke Young.
Wycombe recalled striker Morgan and midfielder Max Kretzschmar, t who came off the Chairboys’ bench to score both goals in their 2-1 win at Hartelpool the previous week.
Morgan, who missed the trip to Victoria Park through injury, had been booked more times than any other League 2 player before kick-off and found himself up against another mean Morg – Argyle’s very own Marvin, who had committed more fouls than any of his divisional contemporaries.
The first half of the match passed by with plenty of huff and puff from both sides, but little to suggest that either’s house was about to be blown down.
Argyle’s most eye-catching moment, a close-range header from Reuben Reid that Wanderers’ goalkeeper Matt Ingram spectacularly turned on to the crossbar, would not have counted anyway as the Pilgrim number nine had drifted offside.
At the other, Devonport, end of the perfectly manicured park, a first-time shot from Wood and a header by Kretzschmar were close enough to their target to cause mild flutters in the Pilgrims’ defence.
Kretzschmar then asked a fairly undemanding question of Luke McCormick around the half-hour mark, with the Argyle goalkeeper safely pouching the on-target grubber.
Wycombe were not overly ambitious but their front men’s industry saw them oblige the Argyle defence to put the ball behind their own lines so often in the first 45 minutes that they became familiar enough with the corners to open a couple of shops.
Argyle began the second half with a new shape and rediscovered vigour, much as they had done exactly a week early.
Morgan migrated from the centre of the attack to wide on the left, with Rommy Boco coming into the area behind the strikers popularly known as the hole.
Immediately, Lewi Alessandra found the space to send over a cross for Reid which, although it lacked the pace or direction to trouble Ingram, at least was on target and a potent signal of the Pilgrims’ intent.
Boco then made space for himself, forcing himself to the edge of the six-yard box with a combination of power and trickery before firing off a shot. The ball was on target when it hit Marvin McCoy on an area that referee Simon Hooper decided was adjacent to his hand.
Wycombe whistled up Matt McClure from the bench, the striker looking to add to the two goals he scored against Argyle last season, including the winner in the Chairboys’ 1-0 victory at Home Park.
Neither was as good s the deadlock-breaker that came a few minutes later, Wood lashing home a stunning effort from 30 yards that gave McCormick absolutely no chance. McClure, it should be noted, teed him up.
Argyle’s response was to send on Andre Blackman before the restart, and Andres Gurrieri soon afterwards, with Morgan and Hamza Bencherif giving way.
Argyle had not fully regrouped when Morgan extended Wycombe’s lead, the striker seizing on hesitancy in the Pilgrims’ back four to nip in and net a game-killing second.
After the double strike, Wycombe shut up shop with some degree of comfort, and rubbed the Pilgrims’ noses in it with Knott’s last-minute undoing.
Despite the introduction of another attacking player in Tyler Harvey, Argyle’s best effort after conceding the goals came from right-back Durrell Berry, who came close to breaking his three-season duck with a shot that flew wide and high.
23 Luke McCormick; 2 Durrell Berry, 16 Neal Trotman, 5 Guy Branston, 28 Jamie Reckord; 7 Lewis Alessandra (18 Tyler Harvey 83), 20 Hamza Bencherif (27 Andres Gurrieri. 73), 6 Conor Hourihane (capt), 8 Romuald Boco; 9 Reuben Reid, 10 Marvin Morgan (3 Andre Blackman 71). Substitutes (not used):
1 Jake Cole, 4 Maxime Blanchard, 15 Paul Wotton, 17 Curtis Nelson.
Wycombe Wanderers (4-4-2):
1 Matt Ingram; 2 Marvin McCoy, 30 Gary Doherty, 6 Leon Johnson, 19 Kortney Hause; 22 Max Kretzschmar (10 Matt Bloomfield 82), 8 Stuart Lewis (capt), 28 Billy Knott, 11 Sam Wood; 7 Dean Morgan (18 Jo Kuffour 77), 20 Steven Craig (29 Matt McClure 66). Substitutes (not used):
3 Charles Dunne, 5 Anthony Stewart, 23 Nick Arnold, 41 Lee Harrison.
Johnson 58, Kuffour 18.