Cheltenham Town 1, Wycombe Wanderers 1.
DEAN Morgan came off the bench to salvage a point for Wanderers, as his late penalty stopped Blues’ losing run.
It finished all square as both teams relied on their top scorers for goals after coming off the substitutes’ bench.
Wanderers had fallen behind to a close range header from Byron Harrison as their barren run looked set to continue.
But having had the better of the chances throughout the game they were eventually rewarded for their efforts as Morgan levelled things up from the spot after fellow substitute Jo Kuffour had been brought down.
Having lost their two previous encounters Blues fans could have been forgiven for fearing the worst as they witnessed their side fall behind again, but not for the first time in recent weeks Wanderers showed the guts to come from a goal down to get something out of the game.
As expected Josh Scowen returned to the Blues engine room while Kuffour and Morgan paid the price for Saturday’s defeat at York by dropping to the bench as Steven Craig and Matt McClure took their place in the starting line-up.
It was Craig who thought he had made the game’s first major contribution when he tapped home from close range after McClure had forced a mistake from the home defence, but the referee’s whistle had sounded a long time previously and the strike was ruled out for a foul.
Scowen had already shown the sort of play that had been badly missed on Saturday with a crunching but fair challenge on Sam Deering when he produced an excellent block to foil Terry Gornell in the Blues’ penalty area.
A deft flick from Steve Elliott that you wouldn’t expect of a burly centre half opened up the space for Jamie Cureton, but the veteran striker could only head straight at visiting keeper Matt Ingram.
The game ebbed and flowed as Robins goalkeeper Scott Brown hared off his line to clear as McClure threatened to break through, before at the other end Stewart made a fine tackle to stop Cureton in his tracks.
Wanderers’ midfield was able to provide the defence with an extra layer of protection and frustrate the home side, as Mitch Brundle’s disappointingly high effort and Gornell’s limp finish that was dragged wide would attest.
Blues had the clearer chances as a clever Craig pass picked out Arnold, whose effort was blocked by Elliott, before McClure coolly nodded the ball down for an unmarked Max Kretzschmar – but from six yards out the midfielder’s shot was stopped by a miraculous block by Brown’s boot.
The home goalkeeper had to be on his toes to tip wide a free kick from Kretzschmar that bent and dipped over the wall towards the bottom corner of the net, before his opposite number Ingram had the slightly easier task of grasping Gornell’s flicked header at a corner.
Gornell attempted to turn provider for his strike partner Cureton as he stood the ball up from the right, but the end result was the same as the header flew straight to Ingram.
Wanderers almost made the breakthrough at the start of the second half as a Craig snapshot cannoned away off a defender for a corner and Arnold sent a rising effort whistling just wide of the upright with a flatfooted Brown a spectator.
Both sides brought on their respective top scorers early in the second half as Morgan was given a second chance to impress as he replaced McClure, while 12-goal Harrison was introduced for the Robins in place of Gornell.
Despite shooting up the considerable slope in the second half it was the visitors who continued to have the better of proceedings and Craig burst past the last defender after being freed by Scowen’s long ball out of defence, but after chipping it over the head of the advancing Brown when he won the foot race the Scotsman could only look on in despair as the ball bounced out of play off the outside of the post.
It proved a costly miss as Town took the lead shortly afterwards, with Sido Jombati sending in an arcing cross that was begging to be attacked, and Harrison finished things off as he got the faintest of touches to divert the ball past Ingram.
The lead was short lived however as the visitors made a renewed effort at getting something from the game. Matt Bloomfield’s attempt was charged down and the ball broke for substitute Jo Kuffour, who was crudely bundled over by Elliott.
A penalty was the only possible outcome and the spot kick was coolly converted by Morgan as Wanderers scored for the first time in three games.
An unsighted Cureton headed way off target as he only saw a right wing cross at the last moment after Anthony Stewart couldn’t quite reach it, before Marvin McCoy steered a long range effort over the bar as both sides went in search of a late winner.
Wanderers: Ingram, McCoy, Stewart, Johnson, Wood, Arnold, Scowen, Bloomfield (sub Jeffrey), Kretzschmar, McClure (sub Morgan), Craig (sub Kuffour). Substitutes not used: Horlock, Pierre, Pittman, Styche.
Attendance: 2,267 (242 from Wycombe)