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McClure nicks Wycombe win
Plymouth Argyle 0, Wycombe Wanderers 1.
MATT McClure’s goal stole all three points as Wanderers ended 2012 with a win that came against the run of play.
By the time the youngster fired home what proved to be the game’s only goal – crisply finishing off a fine pass – after 12 minutes Plymouth had already missed several good chances to take the lead.
Wanderers defended desperately at times but the spirit they showed was immense as the inexperienced defence refused to buckle under the relentless pressure piled upon them.
Only a superb goalkeeping display from Jake Cole had denied Blues a win when the sides last met in Gareth Ainsworth’s first home match in caretaker charge of the side back in October, and this time it was Wanderers who rode their luck to claim an excellent result.
That said, not once was Wycombe goalkeeper Jordan Archer called upon to make a serious save throughout a match dominated by a Plymouth side unbeaten in four and looking to continue their run through to the end of the year.
His indecision almost led to an early goal though as confusion between him and defender Kortney Hause meant both players went for the same lofted ball but neither got to it, and they were relieved to see Marvin McCoy make a superb clearance to deny Nick Chadwick when the ball dropped to the former Everton man.
In a torrid opening for Wanderers, the impressive Paris Cowan-Hall worked his way past Hause before firing over from a narrow angle.
Luke Young then made a hash of an attempted shot but inadvertently teed up his team mate Onismor Bhasera, although his rising shot always looked like it was going to miss the target.
Then, still inside the opening ten minutes of the game, Chadwick smacked the foot of the post after collecting Cowan-Hall’s low cross and turning his man.
Having survived that early battering, Wanderers stunned Home Park into silence by taking the lead against the run of play. Skipper Stuart Lewis caught his opposite number Young dawdling and robbed him of possession before clinically sliding the ball through for McClure to roll home his seventh of the season.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of Argyle and they took a while to get a second wind to attack the Wycombe goal.
They were aided by Blues living dangerously on occasions, with Anthony Stewart almost dispossessed inside his own six yard box and muted penalty appeals being made when Sam Wood upended Cowan-Hall.
It was the lively Cowan-Hall who came closest to drawing Plymouth level when he left Wood and Hause for dead before curling narrowly off target.
Uncertainty in the Blues backline was leading to chances for the Greens and more “after you” defending between Stewart and Hause went unpunished after Wanderers were awarded a free-kick.
More fortune fell their way as Chadwick’s close range effort was blocked by his team mate Tyler Harvey, who netted a last minute equaliser in the Boxing Day derby against Torquay.
Two openings for Bruno Andrade – one going wide off a defender and the other going across the face of goal and failing to trouble the home defence – were all Wanderers could muster in the opening half, yet despite Plymouth’s dominance they had still to seriously test Archer in the visiting goal as the sides turned around with Wycombe in front.
And Blues almost had a moment of fortune at the other end of the pitch as Matt Spring’s inswinging corner bounced back into play off the outside of the post, before McClure headed off target when the ball was returned to the middle and Andrade ballooned wide in a promising start to the second half.
Argyle knocked on wood as Cowan-Hall’s cross went out of play via the top of the bar with Archer scrambling, before the winger fluffed his lines from the edge of the box as his effort floated way off target.
The Devon side continued to bombard the visiting goal and skipper Darren Purse nodded wide from a corner in amongst the ball pinging around the Wycombe penalty area in a nerve-shredding game for the travelling fans.
Plymouth boss Carl Fletcher changed things in attack as Warren Feeney replaced Harvey, with the former Northern Ireland international being booked within seconds of his introduction for a foul on Archer.
The substitution made little difference to the pattern of play as Stewart was poleaxed while clearing a Bhasera shot, although a rare Wycombe chance saw Lewis loop a shot from 20 yards wide of the goal in front of the visiting fans.
Wanderers’ defence continued to just about hold firm despite constant pressure, but Conor Hourihane really should have done better from no more than eight yards as his thumping shot was in danger of leaving the ground.
Goalscorer McClure came off injured and was replaced by returning youngster Ade Azeez, and the striker thought he had scored his first ever professional goal by confidently despatching Andrade’s slide rule pass but he was denied by an offside flag.
That goal would have been a welcome nerve relief for the travelling faithful as McCoy made a great block to deny Max Blanchard, before substitute Andres Gurrieri fired into the side netting from the rebound.
Blues had to survive six minutes of stoppage time – to go with the four added on at the end of the first half – before clinging for the win.
Wanderers: Archer, McCoy, Stewart, Hause, Wood, Ainsworth (sub Morias), Lewis, Spring, Andrade, Kuffour, McClure (sub Azeez). Substitutes not used: Harrison, Oli, Angol, Ehui
Attendance: 6,983 (203 from Wycombe)
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