Blues downed as keeper inspires Tranmere win

Owain Fon Williams was in inspirational form for Tranmere

Owain Fon Williams was in inspirational form for Tranmere

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

Wycombe Wanderers 0, Tranmere Rovers 2.

WANDERERS lost their 100 per cent league record as some of the bad habits they picked up last season re-emerged.

Blues were the more positive in front of goal and but for a string of excellent saves from keeper Owain Fon Williams they would have been good value to get something out of the game.

But as on too many occasions last year they failed to take advantage when on top and were left to rue a lapse in concentration at the back that allowed Cole Stockton to steal a half time lead with a simple finish.

Wanderers’ passing was crisper than what the Adams Park faithful came to endure at the end of last season, but a second defensive switch off enabled Max Power to crash home a second to ensure the visitors claimed their first win of the season.

The Chairboys were unchanged for the fourth match in succession as they sought to win their opening three league matches for the first time since joining the Football League.

An early chance came Tranmere’s way however as a slip, or possibly a foul on, Aaron Mawson presented visiting skipper Marcus Holness with a completely unchallenged header at a Jason Koumas header, but he could only head it weakly straight at Matt Ingram.

A better shot at the other end almost saw Wanderers take the lead as Matt McClure fed Paul Hayes to tee up Max Kretzschmar, who forced the first of many saves from Fon Williams as he dived away to his right.

The visiting keeper was in action again as he produced an excellent reflex stop to prevent a close range header from his own defender, Michael Ihiekwe, from entering the net.

Wanderers were full of energy in attack and Matt McClure hustled Ihiekwe into conceding possession, but the striker couldn’t make the most of the space presented to him and blazed wildly off target.

Next up was Paris Cowan-Hall as he cut in off the wing before seeing his curling shot patted down into the ground by Fon Williams, while a rare Tranmere chance ended with Jake Kirby making a complete hash of a headed opportunity presented to him by Power’s inviting cross.

Danny Woodards, a member of the Bristol Rovers side relegated at Wanderers’ expense last season, blazed a volley high over the bar as Sido Jombati headed another Koumas corner to him on the edge of the box as the Merseysiders regrouped.

Even so it came as something of a surprise when Rovers took the lead, somewhat against the run of play, as Power was afforded too much room down the right and sent in a tantalising low cross that Stockton was on hand to tuck home and put Blues behind in a league match for the first time this season.

Now having something to protect, Tranmere defended in deeper numbers and the hosts were restricted to Kretzschmar’s 25 yard daisycutter, although it zipped an agonising matter of inches the wrong side of the post.

Hayes was cynically tugged back by Ihiekwe and the defender was perhaps more than a tad fortunate to stay on the pitch for dragging the striker down as he burst through. Kretzschmar couldn’t fully punish Ihiekwe’s misdemeanour though, with his on-target curling free kick from just outside the box being expertly tipped away by a flying Fon Williams.

The Welsh keeper was on top form at the start of the second half as he produced another top drawer save to beat out Sam Wood’s thunderous drive, before Aaron Pierre had to make a well timed challenge to stop Stockton pulling clear from an Elliot Richards pass.

Defensive frailties continued as Rovers extended their lead within ten minutes of the restart. Matt Hill was allowed two opportunities from the left and his second cross was half scrambled clear as Richards tried to get a shot off, with the ball reaching Power on the edge of the box and the midfielder slammed it past an unsighted Ingram and into the bottom corner.

McClure headed Kretzschmar’s whipped cross wide from a good position and it proved his final action, as he was immediately replaced by Aaron Holloway.

Hayes’ near post effort was deflected wide and Joe Jacobson’s shot from distance flashed off target as the chances started to dry up for the increasingly desperate Blues.

Rovers’ setup meant Wanderers were being reduced to long range efforts, although one such attempt from Hayes that dipped and swerved was acrobatically plucked out of the air by Fon Williams.

By this stage the keeper was exuding an air of invincibility but he was aided by his defence as they flung themselves at shots from Wood and substitute Danny Rowe, before Jombati’s failure to hit the target with time running out meant there would be no grandstand finish.

Deep into stoppage time came another headed chance for Steven Craig, but the familiar pattern continued as Fon Williams leaped to keep it out.

Wanderers: Ingram, Jombati, Pierre, Mawson, Jacobson, Cowan-Hall (sub Craig), Kretzschmar (sub Rowe), Murphy, Wood, Hayes, McClure (sub Holloway). Substitutes not used: Richardson, Lewis, Walker, Bloomfield.

Attendance: 3,005 (254 from Tranmere)

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