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Match Reports

Wycombe Wanderers 1 Preston North End 0

13 March 2021

A first half header from Ryan Tafazolli gave Wycombe Wanderers the points at Adams Park.

The set piece effort gave the home side the victory despite North End dominating the second half.

Greg Cunningham was missing through a injury, but Andrew Hughes returned as a direct replacement and Sean Maguire came into the side for Tom Barkhuizen for the Lilywhites.

The home side, direct and physical in their approach, looked to play forward directly as much as possible and win set pieces, and North End required their on-loan Danish goalkeeper Daniel Iversen to keep them out in the opening half.

On four minutes, the Leicester City loanee tipped over a Tafazolli header at the back post, from a corner by Wycombe skipper Joe Jacobson’s inswinging corner from the right.

And again he did well in goal to save from Uche Ikpeazu, who had got in behind from a header over the top.

But moments later Gareth Ainsworth’s men went ahead with another Jacobson corner, this time from the left, fizzed over to the back post to Tafazolli, who got up and headed back across goal into the top left-hand corner.

The stopper was required again before half-time to deny Garath McCleary, who cut in from the left and fired hard and low towards the bottom left corner from 20 yards, until a strong hand from the big Dane.

North End were being forced to match their opponents in their approach, with Ched Evans having to battle against Tafazolli at the back and just before half-time the forward was livid not to have won a penalty, when Ben Whiteman’s corner from the right was headed back across goal by Hughes. The Welshman looked to latch onto it as he appeared to be pulled back, referee Tim Robinson seeing nothing wrong.

A triple change at the break saw Paul Gallagher, Brad Potts and Tom Barkhuizen on for Whiteman, Daniel Johnson and Scott Sinclair for the green-clad Lilywhites.

It was a very different game in the second half, with North End having much more of the possession and territory, with Evans the focal point and Gallagher getting on the ball with regularity, while the pace of Barkhuizen was also a threat down the right.

Anthony Gordon replaced Maguire just after the hour mark to add a further attacking option for North End.

And on 71 minutes, two of the changes, Gordon and Potts, combined with Hughes to create a chance for Potts 15 yards out in the left-hand corner of the box, the midfielder firing hard and low, but into the side-netting.

Shortly after, a Gallagher free-kick from the left caused plenty of problems in the home side’s penalty area; Potts winning the bouncing ball, but Gordon was unable to get a shot away under pressure.

A final change saw Emil Riis on for Sepp van den Berg, with a switch to a 3-4-3 formation and a concerted effort get something from the game.

Gordon’s quick feet brought a fine save from David Stockdale as he drove down the left and got a low shot away from the left corner of the six-yard box, the Wanderers stopper blocking the effort with his legs.

As the game entered the final ten minutes, back-to-back corners came for Gallagher from either side and both caused problems, but without forcing an equaliser.

In the final minute of normal time, a long ball forward by Barkhuizen was headed up in the air by Josh Knight, but it fell for Potts to hit on the volley and his effort was just past the right-hand post.

Even in the last minute of stoppage time, a Barkhuizen long throw into the box caused all sorts of problems, but PNE were not able to grab the goal their second half efforts deserved.

Wycombe Wanderers line-up: Stockdale, Jacobson (c), Gape (Ofoborh, 77), Tafazolli, Ikpeazu (Muskwe, 86), Knight, Horgan, Thompson, McCleary (Grimmer, 86), McCarthy, Mehmeti. Subs not used: Allsop, Stewart, Kashket, Akinfenwa, Onyedinma, Samuel.

PNE line-up: Iversen, van den Berg (Riis, 76), Hughes, Whiteman (Gallagher, 46), Huntington, Storey, Maguire (Gordon, 63), Browne (c), Evans, Johnson (Potts, 46), Sinclair (Barkhuizen, 46). Subs not used: Ripley, Lindsay, Rafferty, Riis, Molumby.

Referee: Mr T Robinson.

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