Wycombe Wanderers 1
by CHRIS PARSONS
GUY Madjo’s first goal for the club earned the Pilgrims’ a 1-1 draw on their first visit to Adams Park in nine years.
Having struggled to gain an early foothold on the game, Argyle went behind as early as the 12th minute when Matt McClure beat Cole to a deep cross to nod home.
For the rest of the half, the Pilgrims looks hungry and missed several opportunities to level proceedings.
But it took just five second-half minutes for Argyle to restore parity when Madjo stooped to meet a majestic Alex MacDonald delivery.
Argyle manager Carl Fletcher was clearly not content to settle for the point, though, and introduced three attacking substitutions.
From there on in, it was exciting stuff as Argyle searched for the winner, coming closest deep into stoppage time when Conor Hourihane fired a trademark drive against the crossbar.
The Pilgrims have now lost just once in the last seven games and will take confidence into the match with Wimbledon at Home Park on Saturday.
With Durrell Berry suspended, Fletcher was forced to make a change from the side that had drawn with Southend and also opted for an additional tactical swap.
Curtis Nelson, who had played at right-back for the first four games of the season, was drafted in to replace Berry whilst fit-again midfielder Ross Jenkins was also recalled to action, thus relegating Luke Young to the substitutes’ bench.
There were also changes on the bench, most notably in the goalkeeper department where Rene Gilmartin found himself named in only his second competitive Pilgrims squad. Joe Lennox was also included, at the expense of young striker Matt Lecointe.
The driving sheet rain that lambasted Adams Park in the hour before the kick-off reflected the dull opening period of the game in which neither side managed to string more than a few passes together at a time.
The damp surface made it difficult for all 22 players to find their feet and, consequently, the neat passing display demonstrated by the Pilgrims in recent weeks was at a premium.
It was not until the tenth minute that the first real chance of the game came, when Alex MacDonald ducked and dived to unleash a shot that skimmed off the turf and wide of the left-hand post.
But just two minutes later, it was Wycombe who worked their own opportunity and, for the first time in three games, managed to score when McClure nodded caretaker manager Gareth Ainsworth’s cross past the on-rushing Jake Cole.
A glut of Pilgrim pressure followed with Jenkins, MacDonald and Williams all seeing efforts blocked before they could test home ‘keeper Jordan Archer.
Jenkins was looking lively, linking up the play in the middle of the park, allowing Hourihane to drift in to dangerous positions. He then again tried his luck from distance but saw his curling effort from the acutest of angles land gently on the top of the net.
Joint top-scorer Robbie Williams was the next to threaten, smashing one of his trademark long-range efforts just over the crossbar.
But ten minutes before half-time, Wycombe had a spell in which they should have at least doubled their lead when Leon Johnson’s touch on an Ainsworth corner drifted just wide before Maxime Blanchard, Nelson and Cole combined to deny former Torquay forward Jo Kuffour.
Five minutes later, the Pilgrims created what was arguably their best chance of the game so far when neat play between Guy Madjo and MacDonald led to the latter providing a delightful ball for Onismor Bhasera at the back post.
The cross was so perfect, it might as well have been gift wrapped and whilst Bhasera made good contact, his downwards header across the goal bounced agonisingly wide.
After half-time, both sides exchanged chances as Kaffour for Wycombe and then Madjo for Argyle both saw efforts miss the target.
Keen to out-do his opposite number, Kaffour went close again with the next attack but couldn’t quite find the killer touch to beat Cole.
Just a minute later, though, it was Madjo who made the break-through and when MacDonald again produced a cross to die for, he made no mistake and guided a soft header past the out-stretched arms of Archer and into the far corner.
As is so often the case, the scorer so very nearly turned provider moments later, laying off a deft pass for MacDonald to fire into the advertising boards behind the goal.
Whilst the Pilgrims were now in the ascendency, they could not afford to be complacent and had Cole to thank for a reaction save to deny striker-turned-defender Gary Doherty.
Just after the hour mark, Fletcher’s side were dealt a minor blow when Warren Feeney went down unchallenged. After several minutes of treatment, the Northern Irishman limped off, to be replaced by Paris Cowan-Hall.
The young strikers’ pace and energy immediately caused problems for the home defence and with his first touch, he almost set up Argyle’s second, cutting back a loose ball from Jenkins to fire goalwards on the half-volley.
With ten minutes to go, Fletcher made his intentions clear and brought Rhys Griffiths for the goalscorer Madjo. Then, just a few minutes later, he replaced Bhasera with Nick Chadwick as the Pilgrims surged forward.
The five minutes of injury time incurred sparks a flurry of end to end football in which Cole pulled off a world class save at full stretch to Joel Grant.
Then, in what proved to be the final attack of the game, Hourihane fired a 30 yard drive off the woodwork and into the grateful arms of Archer.
It was a mad finish to an entertaining game.
Wycombe Wanderers (4-3-3): 36 Jordan Archer; 2 Danny Foster, 30 Gary Doherty (capt), 6 Leon Johnson, 18 Charles Dunne; 7 Gareth Ainsworth (9 Matt Spring 78), 8 Stuart Lewis, 28 Josh Scowen; 17 Joel Grant, 29 Matt McClure (20 Dean Morgan 76), 22 Jo Kuffour (32 Junior Morais 85). Substitutes (not used): 5 Dave Winfield, 21 Lee Harrison (gk), 27 Anthony Stewart, 33 Olly Taylor.
Booked: Foster 75, Morais 90.
Argyle (4-4-2): 1 Jake Cole; 17 Curtis Nelson, 5 Darren Purse (capt), 4 Maxime Blanchard, 3 Robbie Williams; 32 Alex MacDonald, 30 Ross Jenkins, 6 Conor Hourihane, 14 Onismor Bhasera (9 Nick Chadwick 84); 11 Warren Feeney (7 Paris Cowan-Hall 63), 18 Guy Madjo (10 Rhys Griffiths 80). Substitutes (not used): 8 Luke Young, 20 Rene Gilmartin (gk), 19 Joe Lennox, 27 Andres Gurrieri.
Booked: Jenkins 37, Purse 90.
Referee: Gavin Ward.
Attendance: 3,161 (494 away).