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Blues turn it round to sink Pools
Wycombe Wanderers 2, Hartlepool United 1.
DEAN Morgan and Matt McClure both scored their first goals since December as Wanderers came from behind to make it back-to-back wins at Adams Park.
Both strikers took their account to the season to seven as Wycombe fought back from being behind at half time to extend their unbeaten run to six.
Jack Barmby, son of one-time England international Nick, had fired Pools into an undeserved lead with a fine finish from close range in a first half dominated by the hosts.
They created a hatful of chances throughout the game but on occasions the quality of the finishing failed to match that of the build-up play.
Morgan eventually glanced them level before McClure – only on the field after replacing the injured Paris Cowan-Hall early on – secured all three points in a tale of two headers.
The win was no less than an impressive Wanderers side deserved though, and they now seem to be heading in the right direction after overcoming their sticky patch.
Blues are now sailing through calmer waters and they’ve had to see off some of the sides at the summit of the table – Chesterfield, Southend United and now Hartlepool – in order to do so.
They attacked the visitors from the start and it proved a sign of what was to come.
With plenty of big men in their side Pools perhaps should have made lighter work of defending a long throw into the box, but Nick Arnold scooped his shot high and wide as the visitors couldn’t get the ball away.
United felt they should have had a penalty as Leon Johnson’s clearing header ricocheted off Simon Walton and into the path of Luke James, who raced into the area before tumbling over an Anthony Stewart challenge, but the referee waved play on.
Gareth Ainsworth had freshened up his attack by electing to start with Morgan and Cowan-Hall after both impressed as substitutes at Southend last week.
But just eight minutes in he was forced into a change as Cowan-Hall hobbled off injured as McClure was given a second chance after starting at Roots Hall.
In a lively opening Marvin McCoy made a fine block to deny Barmby at the near post before Matt Bloomfield stole possession in midfield before running fully 40 yards, but the midfielder blazed way off target when a pass to Morgan may have been the better option.
The striker was given an opening as a ball down the channel from Sam Wood sent him bursting into the area, but his final effort was too far in front of the onrushing McClure to be a cross and ultimately too far wide of the far post to be a shot.
Max Kretzschmar, so impressive in recent weeks, managed to work some space in the area before having his shot blocked, with Arnold enduring the same fate as the ball rebounded out to him on the edge of the area.
The midfielder was involved again moments later as he expertly chested a McCoy cross into the path of McClure but the striker fired straight at goalkeeper Scott Flinders, although he did well to cling on to his powerful effort.
It was the only real effort of note that required Flinders to be in the way despite the mounting pressure from the hosts, as a shot from Bloomfield trickled just past the post after good work from McClure to hold off the defence.
But it was the visitors who edged in front just before half time as veteran striker Marlon Harewood was first to a throw in and cushioned the ball down for Barmby, who hit a sweet first time effort over Matt Ingram and into the net from ten yards.
Blues responded as a Bloomfield effort was blocked within seconds of the restart, with Kretzschmar being crowded out by no fewer than three visiting defenders as he looked to pick up the pieces on the rebound.
Wanderers continued to have the lion’s share of the chances but they were unable to make them count, with Morgan’s powerful shot rising over the bar after Flinders had flapped a corner straight into his path and Kretzschmar firing over after a fine pass from Johnson to pick him out.
Finally they got their reward as Josh Scowen sent in a beautiful cross following McCoy’s short throw, and Morgan stole in ahead of his marker to glance the ball past Flinders and bring Wycombe level with his seventh goal of the season.
Blues reverted to type after that as McClure held the ball up for Kretzschmar to fire inches over the bar and a rare opportunity for the visitors saw Simon Walton flash a firmly-struck volley wide of the target.
The pressure continued from the hosts and they managed to make it pay off as McClure headed them in front at a corner, producing a deadly close range finish from another inch perfect delivery from the increasingly influential Kretzschmar.
Still the chances flowed for Wanderers as a superb lofted ball from Wood dropped for McClure to smash goalwards, with his effort being beaten out by Flinders, before Morgan flicked up from a McCoy pass and sent a shot dropping wide.
Pools threatened a comeback as Andy Monkhouse had a shot deflected for a corner which skipper Sam Collins subsequently headed wide, before a long range piledriver from Bradley Walker was turned away by Ingram, but it was too little, too late.
Wanderers: Ingram, McCoy, Johnson, Stewart, Wood, Arnold, Bloomfield, Scowen, Kretzschmar, Morgan (sub Craig), Cowan-Hall (sub McClure). Substitutes not used: Horlock, Kewley-Graham, Pierre, Jeffrey, Kuffour.
Attendance: 3,073 (188 from Hartlepool)
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