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Ainsworth earns his first point as Wanderers boss
MATT McClure’s first home goal earned Gareth Ainsworth his first point as a manager in a spirited performance by Wycombe Wanderers.
The 20-year-old striker, who fell down the pecking order under former boss Gary Waddock, rose highest to meet a pin-point cross from his new manager on 12 minutes.
Guy Madjo cancelled out McClure’s effort by nodding home his first goal for Plymouth Argyle in an entertaining encounter at a rain soaked Adams Park.
But it was a much improved performance by the Blues - packed full of hard-work and dogged determination, which epitomises the character of their inspirational temporary leader.
Providing Wanderers put in a similar shift over the rest of the season, they may well look back on tonight as the point in which the road to recovery began.
And performances like this will also do Ainsworth no harm whatsoever in what is effectively an interview period for the top job.
The caretaker manager made three changes from Saturday’s defeat away at Dagenham – including a recall for himself down the right-hand side.
And - after 12 quiet minutes - Ainsworth powered down the flank to deliver a peach of a cross into the penalty area and McClure soared above the inspired goalkeeper Jake Cole to head home into the top corner.
Argyle responded immediately, with Alex MacDonald and Ross Jenkins going close during a five minute spell of sustained pressure.
But this was a spirited display from the Blues with the manager leading by example and, when in the past they may have folded, they held firm and should have gone into the break with a bigger lead.
Leon Johnson wrapped his leg around a defender to prod the ball agonisingly past the post after an Ainsworth corner caused confusion in the Argyle defence.
A game of pinball then broke out in the Pilgrims box on 37 minutes. Jo Kuffour was sent clear by Stuart Lewis but his low effort was blocked by a last gasp challenge from Blanchard.
The ball fell to Lewis but his drive was blocked, sparking a scramble in the Pilgrims box before the ball found its way back to Lewis, who fired wide.
But for all Wanderers’ good work, Plymouth should have levelled on the stroke of half-time with Onismor Bhasera nodding wide at the far post.
Thumbs up from the caretaker manager as he walked down the tunnel to deliver his half-time team-talk. All was going well.
And the Blues came out fired-up again, Kuffour going inches wide with a placed shot.
Cole found a fizzing low drive from full-back Charles Dunne too hot to handle, spilling at the feet of McClure but the young striker’s out-stretched boot failed to direct the ball goal-wards.
But the visitors, who were still puffing their cheeks after that let off, went straight down the other end and equalised.
MacDonald lofted in a cross from the right to Madjo, who placed his header back across goal to notch up his first goal in Plymouth colours.
It was like a scene from the Matrix, as the ball span and bounced in slow motion past a despairing Archer dive to level the match.
But besides Pilgrims’ glovesman Cole being called into making an instinctive point-blank save to deny captain Gary Doherty’s bullet header, the game settled down midway through the second half, with neither side wanting to give anything away.
The impressive McClure, making his first start of the season, was forced off with an injury and gaffer Gareth went off to a standing ovation on 77 mins after giving his all to the cause.
The visitors saw more of the ball but never really tested Archer, who extended his emergency loan earlier from Tottenham earlier today, as the game threatened to peter out.
But it sparked back into life in injury time, with Cole making a brilliant Gordon Banks-esque save from Joel Grant after Morgan’s shot was blocked by Curtis Nelson.
And Conor Hourihane almost won it for the Pilgrims at the last, as his rasping shot rattled the bar.
Honours even and a fair result, but a hugely encouraging performance by Wycombe who now have a platform to build on as they look to climb up the League Two table.
Wycombe Wanderers: Jordan Archer (GK), Danny Foster, Charles Dunne, Leon Johnson, Gary Doherty, Gareth Ainsworth, Stuart Lewis, Josh Scowen, Joel Grant, Matt McClure, Jo Kuffour.
Subs: Lee Harrison, Dave Winfield, Matt Spring, Dean Morgan, Anthony Stewart, Junior Morias, Olly Taylor.
Plymouth Argyle: Jake Cole (GK), Curtis Nelson, Robbie Williams, Maxime Blanchard, Darren Purse, Alex MacDonald, Conor Hourihane, Ross Jenkins, Onismor Bhasera, Guy Madjo, Warren Feeney.
Subs: Rene Gilmartin, Paris Cowan-Hall, Luke Young, Nick Chadwick, Rhys Griffiths, Joe Lennox, Andres Gurrieri.
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