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Blues start pre-season with a win
AN OWN goal enabled Wanderers to start their pre-season campaign with a win at non-league Cheshunt despite giving away a two goal lead.
Nic Barratt’s emphatic finish in putting through his own net with time running out meant a Blues side fielding four trialists eventually ran out 3-2 victors against the Ryman League outfit.
Matt McClure showed he had lost none of his predatory instincts by scoring a quickfire double in a first half controlled and dominated by Gareth Ainsworth’s side.
And although the Blues boss said the early friendlies are about fitness rather than performance, he will no doubt be disappointed at the way the hosts were allowed back into the game as Tunde Adewumni also scored twice in quick succession after the break to bring the scores level.
It looked like staying that way until Barratt was left red faced by his late intervention, ensuring Wycombe began with a win.
Cheshunt almost drew first blood early on as Anthony Anstead just beat a hesitant Matt Ingram to a hopeful through ball but the Wanderers keeper was able to recover and fall on the ball in plenty of time to prevent an embarrassing opening goal.
The first chance for Blues dropped to Sam Wood, who did well to hold off his man but fired tamely straight at keeper Glenn Williamson.
The home stopper was stretched again by Wood as he tipped the midfielder’s rising effort over the bar for a corner, which was subsequently glanced wide by Gary Doherty.
In a surprisingly open game Mete Sem would have been disappointed not to have done better than to scrape a shot over the bar from a good position when Cheshunt’s first corner of the game fell invitingly for him.
Wanderers went in front with 20 minutes played as Nathan Evans – winner of last year’s Win a Pro Contract competition – bought himself a yard of space on the right flank, and it was all he needed to whip in a perfect cross that McClure headed out of Williamson’s despairing grasp and into the bottom corner.
Two minutes later he had his second as trialist striker Aaron Holloway held the ball up for Josh Scowen who, popping up on the left wing despite nominally playing as a right back, sent in a teasing low cross that found McClure at the back stick for a simple tap-in.
The Northern Ireland U21 international had chances to make it a swift hat trick as he blazed a chance over before drawing a smart near post save from Williamson with an angled drive.
Blues threatened to extend their lead even further before the break as Holloway – released in the summer after a brief spell with Newport County last year – had a header blocked and the overworked Williamson spared Sem’s blushes as he plunged to his right to prevent his team mate’s attempted clearance from Aaron Pierre’s low cross from entering his own net.
As has become a tradition in recent seasons Wanderers replaced their entire team at the interval, with trialists Jamie Tank, Adam N’Diit and Leon Mannion all being given a run out in the second half.
Central defender Tank, a free agent after a spell with Wolves, sent a header inches wide from a corner before cutting out a dangerous cross in the more familiar surroundings of side’s penalty area as the hosts rallied.
And they had a route back into the game as Blues couldn’t stop Greg Akpele’s pass into the danger zone from the right, and although an initial shot was cleared off the line they were powerless to prevent Adewumni from slotting home the rebound.
Just as Wanderers scored in double quick time in the first half, the hosts repeated the trick as a through ball sent Adewumni clean through and he coolly chipped the ball over the advancing but badly exposed Alex Lynch for an equalising goal.
Wycombe should have reclaimed the lead almost instantly as Junior Morias’s cross from the left was missed by the home defence and flapped at by new keeper Erbil Bozkurt, but from a matter of yards Paris Cowan-Hall shot wastefully over.
Sido Jombati sent a header wide, ex Chelsea man N’Diit forced Bozkurt into a flying save from a curling free kick and Mannion held off a defender before shooting tamely straight at the keeper as a Wanderers side stunned at the turnaround went desperately in search of a third goal.
But Cheshunt almost managed to turn the game completely on its head from an inviting cross by David Greene, with Adewumni this time failing to supply the finishing touch as his volley dropped wide of goal.
Former Cheshunt man Tommy Fletcher almost scored on his first return to his old club, being denied by a reflex block from Bozkurt, before Jombati cut in from the flank and bent a shot well wide of the far post.
Cowan-Hall failed to make the most of a clear opportunity after being sent clear by Steven Craig’s flicked header on, being the latest Wanderers player to scuff limply straight at the keeper when he ought to have done better.
The winger helped to spare Blues’ blushes as he laid on the goal that proved to be the winner. Taking a sublime ball out the back from Jombati in his stride, Cowan-Hall broke clear down the right before his cross was despatched expertly into the bottom corner of his own net by Barratt, who finished with the aplomb of a seasoned striker into the wrong goal.
Wanderers first half: Ingram, Scowen, Doherty, Pierre, Jacobson, Evans, Murphy, Wood, Hayes, Holloway, McClure.
Second half: Lynch, Jombati, Fletcher, Tank, N’Diit, Cowan-Hall, Kretzschmar, Lewis, Morias, Craig, Mannion.