Blues roll past Stones with late winner

Sam Wood scored the winning goal

Sam Wood scored the winning goal

First published in Sport Bucks Free Press: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

SAM Wood netted a late winner as Wanderers recovered from a slow start to see off non-league Wealdstone.

An experimental Blues side struggled to deal with last season’s Isthmian League champions in the first half, being indebted to young goalkeeper Charlie Horlock for making a trio of excellent saves to ensure the blank scoreline at half time.

Matt McClure put Wycombe in front within two minutes of his introduction at the break, as Wanderers became re-energised by the break and went on to put in a strong second half showing in a classic game of two halves.

The striker was the main culprit in missing a string of chances created almost at will by Wanderers, and it looked as if they were going to be made to pay as Nicci Ahamed equalised late on for the hosts.

But Wood scored an even later goal to ensure the Chairboys got back to winning ways and got the goals manager Gareth Ainsworth – who played the first half of this game – had demanded.

It looked like Blues were on course for a goal rampage as they started strongly. Stuart Lewis threaded the ball through for Junior Morias, whose shot was nervously batted away by keeper Jonathan North, but Steven Craig made a hash of the rebound and jabbed it against the post and out.

Max Kretzschmar failed to get hold of a 30 yard shot in the same manner as he did against Chesham, scooping it wide, before at the other end Horlock made the most of a rare chance to impress between the sticks with the first of his impressive saves to beat away a Luke Pigden free kick.

The stand-in Blues keeper made another great stop to keep out a firmly struck effort from former Wanderers youngster Michael Malcolm after he took advantage of a slip in the visiting defence.

Lewis had to go off injured early on, being replaced by Nathan Evans, and Blues were still adjusting to the change when Jonathan Wright sent Tom Hickey clear. His shot was charged down by Peter Murphy, this time being employed in the centre of defence and giving a good impression of a captain by loudly organising everything at the back.

They had something of a let-off as Jack Mills struck the crossbar from close range but they owed their good fortune to a superb piece of last ditch defending from Tommy Fletcher, stretching to avert the danger.

Luck was out as the referee ignored a linesman’s flag to allow Joe Turner a clear run at goal, with Horlock adding to his catalogue of impressive saves as he got down low to turn his shot behind from a corner. The set piece was nodded back across goal, where Murphy just got enough of a touch to clear the ball behind with a Wealdstone player looking odds-on to score.

The hosts wasted yet another chance to go in front with half time approaching, Turner blazing over the top after another incisive breakaway.

And with barely a minute of the second half gone Wanderers were in front, McClure demonstrating the same predatory instincts he showed during a prolific loan spell with the Stones earlier in his career by nodding home from close range after Fletcher had climbed high to head the ball across the face of goal at a corner.

It was McClure’s first touch of the game after coming on, with his second producing a long range shot that required a save from North.

The keeper then made a sharp reaction stop from McClure’s downward header before excelling again to block another header from Gary Doherty, with Sido Jombati having the rebound deflected over.

Both defenders had come on after an hour, bringing an end to outings for trialists Callum Driver – a third run-out for the former West Ham man – and former Stevenage defender Jhai Dhillon.

The half time interval had acted as a switch, flipping the pattern of play on its head as Wealdstone failed to pose any attacking threat to Wanderers whatsoever.

Instead it was the League Two club now having the better of things as McClure sent a shot bobbling just past the post under pressure from North and Wes Parker.

Craig flicked a lofted pass into the path of Morias, whose firm effort was parried by North, before McClure probably ought to have added to his tally when the ball was tossed back into the area but he skewed his header wide.

It looked like Blues were going to rue those missed second half opportunities as Wright took advantage of a slip by Pierre to burst forward and put in a low cross that was tucked away from an absurdly narrow angle from Ahamed.

The sides were level for barely a minute though as a Morias cross found its way through to Wood just inside the area, whose thunderous first-time shot could only be diverted into the roof of the net by the defender on the line.

Normal second half service was resumed as Morias smashed the ball straight at North and McClure was once again off target as Wanderers ended the game strongly.

Wanderers: Horlock, Driver (sub Scowen), Murphy (sub Pierre), Fletcher (sub Doherty), Dhillon (sub Jombati), Ainsworth (sub McClure), Kretzschmar (sub Wood), Bloomfield, Lewis (sub Evans), Morias, Craig.

Attendance: 260

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