Match Report : 26/12/2016

Argyle 3 Wycombe 3 - Report

Argyle 3
Slew 18, Jervis 40, Songo’o 56

Wycombe Wanderers 3
Kashket 8, Akinfenwa 59, Weston 89

By Rick Cowdery

AFTER the jam of last Wednesday, the bread and butter of Sky Bet League Two and a Christmas cracker between two of the division’s in-form teams resulted in as pleasant an encounter as the previous two match-ups had been ugly.

Wycombe took the lead in the opening ten minutes, through the recently prolific Scott Kashket but the Pilgrims were soon back on terms through Jordan Slew’s first goal since his solo masterpiece at Mansfield.

Argyle went in front thanks to one of Jake Jervis’s traditional goals against the Chairboys, from flat on his back less than five yards from goal, and extended their lead early in the second half when Yann Songo’o did similar.

Wycombe closed the margin almost immediately through the familiar large frame of Adebayo Akinfenwa and kept Argyle keen until the final minute of the 90, when substitute Myles Weston curled the ball home from outside the edge of the penalty area.

Argyle manager Derek Adams had made one change to the starting line-up that had contributed to the Boxing Day busyness by doing the business and winning a January 8 trip to Merseyside.

Arnie Garita, whose missed penalty at Newport the previous Wednesday had briefly threatened to derail the Pilgrims’ Liverpool Express, came in for Craig Tanner, with the front four rotating to see Graham Carey slot in behind Garita, and Jervis and Slew out wide.

Wycombe, who arrived at Home Park on the back of eight successive wins - six in the EFL - recalled Akinfenwa in place of Garry Thompson and also shuffled their front line.

Argyle started brightly but were undone within eight minutes when Carey’s misplaced pass on halfway towards his own goal fell short of its target. The ball was worked out to Kashket, who ran in against a forward-committed defence and slotted easily past Luke McCormick for his tenth goal in as many matches.

The Pilgrims responded immediately with purpose, and, following a corner, Garita found Connor Smith in space for a measured shot that curled past Wycombe goalkeeper Jamal Blackman but clattered back into play off the upright.

They were not to be denied for long, though. Oscar Threlkeld might be this season’s third-choice left-back, but he is pretty well the first name on the team sheet these days and his low cross from the flank found Slew. He tuned and sent a low shot into Blackman’s near post and, although the ’keeper got plenty behind the ball, it squirted away from him and slithered over the goal-line.

The goal gave Argyle momentum, so it was something of a mixed blessing for Wycombe that Michael Harriman, in trying to keep up with Slew, collapsed and, after treatment, was taken off on a stretcher. They lost a player, but drew the sting out of the game.

Argyle, though, were soon back in charge, and Carey, as if determined to make personal amends for his earlier mistake, was troubling the high end of the thermometer with some sweet runs and perceptive passing. He came close to putting the Pilgrims ahead with a swinging left-footer from the right after working a short corner with Gary Miller.

Wycombe, although under the cosh, remained a threat and nearly went ahead when Akinfenwa smacked a header from Joe Jacobson’s corner against the bar of the goal where he had scored last season to effectively end the Pilgrim’s automatic promotion hopes. 

Straight away, Garita was on the end of an Argyle break, driving past Jacobson to the right-hand bye-line. Spoilt for choice as Pilgrims converged on the Wycombe goal from all angles, he elected to fire the ball low and hard into the six-yard box, where the Jervis stretched to bustle the ball home from a supine position. 

Having conceded just one goal in the previous six Sky Bet League Two matches, Wycombe had now leaked two in one half.

Argyle should have been awarded a penalty in the opening minutes of the second half when Garita was hauled back by Anthony Stewart after he had nipped between the Wycombe back man and Blackman but referee Graham Salisbury saw no wrong.

If that was unfortunate, maybe the Greens were given the rub of the green when Songo’o dived in at the near post and, following the Jervis school of finishing, bundled Carey’s corner over the goal-line with what Wycombe complained was an arm but which could have been a trailing leg.

 The visitors recovered from the chagrin with alacrity and soon brought the deficit back down to one again when Jacobson slung in a lovely ball from the left which Akinfenwa, showing the delicate side to his normal robust game, volleyed home.

Back bounced Argyle. Miller released Jervis for a low cross which fell at the feet of Garita. Falling backwards, the Frenchman’s shot was always rising and then ball clipped the top of the crossbar on its way over.

As limbs began to ache and defences gained the upper hand, clear chances dried up. Garita fired one over after neatly controlling the ball on his chest and cutting in off the angle, while Songo’o blocked an on-target shot from Matt Bloomfield.

Wycombe, to their credit, kept going and leveled in the final minute of normal time when Weston  smashed  a shot past McCormick from 20 yards.

Slew tried to get Argyle back to the top of the table with another of his quick drives into the penalty area, but Blackman was equal to his final shot. 

Argyle (4-2-3-1): 23 Luke McCormick (capt); 2 Gary Miller, 4 Yann Songo'o, 15 Sonny Bradley, 18 Oscar Threlkeld; 24 David Fox, 6 Connor Smith; 14 Jake Jervis, 10 Graham Carey, 8 Jordan Slew; 26 Arnie Garita. Substitutes (not used): 5 Nauris Bulvitis, 7 David Goodwillie, 16 Ben Purrington, 19 Karleigh Osborne, 20 Louis Rooney, 21 Vincent Dorel (gk), 27 Craig Tanner.

Booked: Threlkeld 88.

Wycombe Wanderers (4-3-3): 27 Jamal Blackman; 16 Michael Harriman (2 Sido Jombati 29), 5 Anthony Stewart, 6 Aaron Pierre, 3 Joe Jacobson; 10 Matt Bloomfield, 25 Dominic Gape, 17 Luke O'Nien (7 Garry Thompson 85); 24 Scott Kashket (19 Myles Weston 83), 20 Adebayo Akinfenwa, 12 Paris Cowan-Hall. Substitutes (not used): 1 Scott Brown (gk), 8 Marcus Bean, 11 Sam Wood, 23 Will De Havilland.

Booked: Kashket 82, Stewart 90, Jacobson 90.

Referee: Graham Salisbury.

Attendance: 12,210 (284 away).