Report: Morecambe 2 Wycombe 1 (from WWFC)

Wanderers lost at Morecambe for the first time in nine visits, succumbing to a 2-1 loss at the Globe Arena on Saturday afternoon.

The damage was done in the first half as Steve Old headed them into the lead and Adam McGurk’s low strike found the bottom corner, with the Blues producing a display well below their usual standards.

It was a different story after the interval as Wanderers dominated throughout, but their only reward was a header from Adebayo Akinfenwa which proved to be a mere consolation at the Shrimps held on.

Gareth Ainsworth made one change to his starting line-up from the side that defeated Solihull in the FA Cup last weekend, with Ebere Eze returning to the team at the expense of Matt Bloomfield.

Former Chairboy Garry Thompson lined up against his ex-club though Morecambe were without the services of loanee Max Muller, who was ineligible to feature against his parent side.

Eberechi Eze had the game’s first shot with just 25 seconds on the clock, but his low effort from outside the box was comfortable for Barry Roche to hold, and moments later Nick Freeman fizzed a fierce cross-shot across goal which Roche parried to safety.

Morecambe were forced to play on the counter attack for much of the early part of the game, though they had a sight of goal when Kevin Ellison nodded a deep cross into the path of Aaron Wildig, who miscued his volley over the bar.

Adebayo Akinfenwa’s first effort of the game deflected safely for Roche after Eberechi Eze laid it off for the striker, while Adam McGurk wasn’t far off scoring a stunning strike from 45 yards, sending a curling effort just over the bar with Scott Brown off his line.

Brown laid on a chance for Akinfenwa with a high floating free-kick towards the penalty spot which was headed goalwards but saved by Roche, and action swung to the other end when Andrew Fleming volleying wide from Joe Jacobson’s headed clearance.

However, the breakthrough came on 27 minutes and it was Morecambe’s Steve Old who broke the deadlock, sending a bullet header past Brown from a right-wing cross after Craig Mackail-Smith had cleared an initial corner.

Wycombe upped their game and saw Nick Freeman send a low shot wide, though Adam McGurk could’ve doubled the lead when he lent back to meet a cross and volleyed high into the car park.

Dan Scarr’s well-struck volley was brilliantly kept out by a diving header from Aaron McGowan after Ebere Eze’s cross sparked panic, but within a minute Morecambe made it 2-0 when Thompson’s cross wasn’t effectively cleared and McGurk was left with time and space to find the bottom corner with a clean hit.

Marcus Bean side-footed over the bar when the ball fell to him 20 yards out just before the interval, while Ellison had a chance to make it 3-0 with a first-time shot which evaded the left post.

It left Wanderers with a lot to do to turn the game around in the second period, but they began with a spring in their step and went about their business in a determined, high tempo fashion, attacking down the channels and looking for that clinical pass into the box.

Kevin Ellison struck the wall with a free-kick 20 yards out in a rare Morecambe attack as they sat back to invite Wanderers pressure, and Bean volleyed over from a half-cleared cross from the left.

Then Anthony Stewart surged all the way from his own half to the edge of the box and teed up Akinfenwa, who turned delightfully and forced a smart save from Roche down low to left.

Saunders then bent a wicked shot towards the top corner from 25 yards but Roche tipped it behind, and from Saunders’ second delivery from the right, Bean made the connection only to see the ball bundled off the line.

Gareth Ainsworth made a double change with Luke O’Nien and Paris Cowan-Hall replacing Saunders and Dominic Gape, which resulted in a change in shape, and Cowan-Hall’s first real involvement was a cross for Mackail-Smith, who beat his man headed over.

Then Cowan-Hall’s superb cross was volleyed fiercely at goal by Freeman but the ball bounced off Roche and the rebound landed on the roof of the net from the head of Akinfenwa, before the final change arrived with Matt Bloomfield replacing Ebere Eze.

Hope arrived with eight minutes left on the clock, and Cowan-Hall again was the architect with another superb cross, enabling Akinfenwa to send an unstoppable header past Roche to rack up double figures for the season and set up a grandstand finale.

He was so close to an equaliser just two minutes later when he cushioned a header agonisingly wide of the far post, and then Mackail-Smith curled wide from the edge of the box from Akinfenwa’s flick-on.

Freeman jinked past a number of defenders and hit the target with a swerving shot that Roche needed to hold – but did – with two white shirts lurking.

Four minutes of stoppage time arrived but the Shrimps did all they needed to keep the Chairboys at bay to record their first ever home win over the Wanderers, who will now target three points at home to Crawley next weekend.

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