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Plymouth Argyle 0
Wycombe Wanderers 1
Saturday 30th January 2016
Football League Two
Wanderers' winning record at Home Park continued with a remarkable 1-0 at 2nd placed Plymouth Argyle. Former Pilgrim Gozie Ugwu fired Wanderers into the lead on 3 minutes but there was a set-back for Wycombe around the ten minute mark when rookie 'keeper Alex Lynch was injured and two minutes later had to be stretchered off and replaced with 46 year old Barry Richardson. Amazingly, the veteran 'keeper completed the day with a clean sheet in a match that didn't finish until 5.08pm due to a kick-off delayed 5 minutes because of a problem with an exposed sprinkler head, plus the subsequent hold up for the injury to Lynch and alledged time wasting tactics from Wycombe.
The result came after Gareth Ainsworth made four changes to the side that had lost to Leyton Orient the previous week - Sam Wood missing out with a back injury, plus Anthony Stewart, Luke O'Nein and Garry Thompson all moving aside from the stating XI for Marcus Bean, Matt Bloomfield, Paris Cowan-Hall and Gozie Ugwu. There was also good news as Paul Hayes recovered from his injury against The O's to retain his place in the starting line-up.
The match winning goal came after Wanderers had made a bright opening to proceedings as Marcus Bean's shot from the edge of the box was deflected wide for a corner on the right. Argyle, who have conceeded on regular basis from Wanderers set-pieces, crumbled again following the inswinging delivery by Joe Jacobson - this time Aaron Pierre firing in a half clearance that was blocked again before Ugwu turned the ball home at the second attempt from no more than a yard from goal.
Lynch's injury came after he fell awkwardly following a shot from the edge of the box. He first collapsed requesting treatment - an act that provoked an outcry from the Plymouth bench and fans alike. After treatment the 'keeper continued but shortly after the re-start he collapsed again after taking a goal-kick. Amazingly, the home side carried on playing and a low ball in from the left found former Wanderer loanee Reuben Reid who side footed the chance wide of the right hand post. We can only imagine the added controversy if the ball had found the net.
It was clear (to anybody with an ounce of intelligence) that Lynch could not continue - hence the introduction of veteran Richardson. Wanderers had tried to sign a back up 'keeper in the wake of Matt Ingram's departure to QPR the previous week but a deal had fallen through less than 24 hours before the visit to Home Park. Richardson's last competitive appearance was just over ten years previous. A sense of trepidation would have been the reaction of most of the 200 plus Wanderers following in the crowd.
It was no surprise that Wanderers took every opportunity to guard Richardson's goal with extra caution. However, it was Wycombe who had a chance to increase their lead on 18 minutes when Jacobson's free-kick from the right saw Pierre's shot at the back post blocked.
There was a case of classic 'handbags' just before the break when Matt Bloomfield was left grounded by an Argyle challenge in midfield. Bean took took exception to the tackle while players from both sides piled in. Argyle 'keeper Luke McCormick also thought it neccessary to race 60 yards in an attempt to calm the affray. The home side blew a fuse again on the stroke of half-time when Reid went down under the challenge of Jason McCarthy. The most vehement claims for a spot-kick came from the Plymouth bench but referee Gibbs was not interested. The dispute raged on as the teams left the field for the break following nine added minutes of stoppage time.
The second-half saw Michael Harriman clear Curtis Nelson's goal-bound shot off the line following half-time substitute Graham Carey's 56t minute corner. However, it came as a surprise that Argyle's serious attempts at goal were few and far between. Richardson got down well to his right to save from Carl McHugh on 55 minutes. He also gathered another weakly hit shot, this time from Craig Tannerm, as Argyle's frustrations increased. As time ran out for the Devon side and more of their players committed up front, it was Wycombe who had the better chances to add to the scoreline. On 71 minutes, McCormick made two reaction saves to deny Matt Bloomfield and with a bit more creation up front Wanderers could have made the win more convincing.
Full-time saw more touchline shenanigans, Ainsworth refusing to shake his opposite number Derek Adams' hand and some of the players needing to be separated in the tunnel. But it was victory for Wanderers for the fifth consecutive time at Home Park in all competitions, with Wanderers moving up to 8th in the table with 43 points. Next game, home to 16th placed Luton Town on Saturday 6th February.
Full-time - Plymouth 0 Wycombe 1
Much of the post match coverage centered on the appearance of Barry Richardson. At 46 years old he became the oldest player to turn out for Wanderers in a Football League match. However, it was the mind games between the two Managers that sparked controversy too.
The meeting at Adams Park earlier in the 2015/16 campaign had seen Pilgrims boss Derek Adams complain about legitimate GPS devices being used by the Wanderers players. It delayed the kick-off but Plymouth went on the secure victory. This time around it was the sprinkler heads under the Home Park pitch that caused the delay.
Adams and his players then proceeded to make the now tired accusations of Wycombe players feigning injury and wasting time - a point of view that had also rubbed off on a significant percentage of the home support. Adams' attempt at post-match rhetoric included his claims that his side should have had a penalty: "It's not the first time this season it has happened to us at home. I think we are one of only two teams in the league not to have had a penalty. And it was a stonewall penalty on Reuben Reid in the first half. We have had to overcome quite a lot this season." He continued his nonsensical rant by adding: "We have not had a penalty and the amount of time-wasting that has been going on at Home Park has been ridiculous. I think it's something that has to be looked at."
Wanderers Manager Gareth Ainsworth was clearly upset with Adams' behaviour during the game and the accussations aimed at his players. Ainsworth refused to shake hands with Adams after the final whistle as the two came together in an school playground style stand-off. A melee of players followed as the teams headed down the tunnel. But Ainsworth played down the events in his post match interview, saying: "It was just passion you know, passion in everybody. The two managers, the staff and all the players got involved in the end,” Ainsworth said of the post-match incident. It is passion and I didn’t see any major incidents at the end there, there were no punches being thrown or kicks or anything like that. It was just heated words, but you get that all through football. Let’s talk about the headers that we won, the tackles we won and the grafting and runs that some of my boys were making today. We have to speak about the way we played and the sheer determination we showed. “People will say we slowed the game down. If you’re winning 1-0, show me a team that doesn’t slow the game down. If you have a 46-year-old, keeper who wouldn’t try and slow the game down and protect him?" He then went on to praise Barry Richardson, adding: "What an opportunity Barry has had today. When I played with him he was a great keeper at Lincoln City. He just became the oldest player for Wycombe Wanderers and is the first keeper to take a clean sheet form Home Park as well. He has taken a couple of accolades, and I am not sure he is going to be able to move tomorrow. We will patch him up but believe me I won’t be looking to start him next week."
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