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Wycombe Leapfrog Town, as Mooney Does it Again
By: Gareth Edwards
TOWN were knocked off top spot by a decent Wycombe side and it was the Mariners' arch nemesis Tommy Mooney whose first half header separated the two sides. Russell Slade's side did come out of it with some credit however, and a battling second half display should perhaps have warranted a draw.
On another night, with a better rub of the green, Town could have matched John Gorman's side at least and this fuelled the frustration all round.
Town lined up with two changes from the side that drew a blank at Shrewsbury last weekend, with Andy Parkinson once again recovering from his shin problems to replace Gary Cohen on the left flank and Gary Jones was preferred up-front to Martin Gritton in an attempt to work the space in between the defence and midfield. Wycombe were without both the division's leading scorer Nathan Tyson, and veteran Rob Lee but still boasted the talents of experienced front man Tommy Mooney, the pacey Kevin Betsy and creative midfielder Stefan Oakes. They also debuted Andrew Lonergan in goal as expected.
Wycombe kicked off towards the Pontoon in front of the bumper 7000+ crowd and it was Parkinson who had the game's first opportunity, with a long range curler lying wide. Kevin Betsy then threatened for Wycombe with a jinking run on the right, only to hit a shot straight at Steve Mildenhall. Stefan Oakes then threatened to unleash one of his trademark long range specials but his powerfully struck daisy cutter was saved uncomfortably by Mildenhall. Town then won their first corner but Wycombe had obviously done their homework, as Town's specialist at these situations, Rob Jones, was too well marked to divert his header on target.
Wycombe continued to knock the ball around confidently and they got their reward when the continually dangerous Betsy, beat his man for pace on the right and crossed to Mooney in the centre, who was left unmarked to nod in for his 6th goal in his 6 previous games against Town. It was a soft goal to concede but Town obviously failed to learn their lesson, as he was left unmarked in the area once again, but he scuffed his shot into the grateful Mildenhall's grasp when he perhaps should have improved his goal record further.
For the first half it was really a case of Town's hopeful long balls against Wycombe's neat passing play and Town's lack of pressure in midfield meant their was only one winner in this contest. Bloomfield glanced a header across Mildenhall and wide from another teasing Betsy cross and Town weren't really able to get in the game and were done no favours by the hapless officials. Simon Francis seemed one of Town's most interested along with Reddy, but it was the former who almost cragged Town back into the game against the run of play, with his solo run and shot forcing Lonergan into a save. Stefan Oakes again threatened from range but his shot was thankfully deflected wide.
The frustrated crowd were soon stirred by a brief spell of Grimsby pressure, created through a number of set pieces. The best was a Tom Newey corner, which was only half cleared but the ball didn't fall for anyone in the box and was cleared. Wycombe remained dangerous at the other end and Rob Jones was forced into a desperate lunge to bring down Betsy and was booked for his troubles. The referee then lost control to cap his rather uninspiring performance in the half, booking McDermott for an innocuous incident with Torres, then awarding a throw in rather than a free-kick. The reaction of both the crowd and players prompted him to blow for half time immediately and allow Slade to plan Grimsby's way of getting back into the game.
Half Time: Town 0 Wycombe 1
The report continues in the Second Half.
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