HARRIMAN IS THE GOAL HERO
FOURTEEN points down, 51 to go – only then will Gareth Ainsworth start talking up his Wycombe side’s promotion chances.
Victory over Hartlepool United made it six games without defeat for the Chairboys this season.
Coming on the back of reaching the play-off final last time out, there’s little doubt where Ainsworth’s sights are set.
But after two Michael Harriman goals sent Pools to a third successive League Two defeat, Ainsworth was still playing down the Buckinghamshire club’s chances.
“Our target is 65 points – get there as quick as we can and then we will talk,’’ he claimed.
“Teams now change how they come here – and they used to come here expecting to win. Hartlepool tried to get their foot on it and it allowed us to get our foot on it – and we did it better.
“We gave them a boost with a sloppy goal but we talked positively at halftime and came out with a positive frame of mind and took the game to them.”
The Chairboys were quick to get in behind a tame Pools defence and Harriman slid a shot wide coming in from the right before Paul Hayes had an effort cleared off the line from a well-worked corner routine.
After Pools’ Michael Woods had a volley saved firmly by Matt Ingram, Harriman opened the scoring. A long ball from the back was flicked on by Hayes for Harriman to race onto and bend a low shot into the corner of the net.
But Pools responded well and Rhys Oates was denied by a Danny Rowe tackle and, from the corner, Billy Paynter’s header was nodded off the line.
They levelled when Carl Magnay exchanged passes with Rakish Bingham and his shot spun high over Ingram into the net.
Paynter then hit the post amid some static home defending as the visitors pressed.
But on 57 minutes, Garry Thompson was unchallenged in heading the ball to Harriman who was allowed to cut inside and curl in from 20 yards.
Rhys Oates should have levelled, but his shot was fired straight into Ingram from the edge of the area. And chances at both ends became scarce as the game lost its early zip.
Pools’ hopes of a point were dented when they were reduced to ten men in the final minutes as Magnay and Wycombe’s Ryan Sellers tangled and the right-back was issued a red card for violent conduct.
Tranmere manager Ronnie Moore said: “There’s disappointment with the goals we conceded. But we can’t defend and the two goals are astonishing.
“First one is a long ball from the back, flicked on and they score. The second should have been a free-kick to us. Instead, they break, the ball falls for him and he scores. First-half we could have gone in front 2-1 at half-time when Billy hits the spot. But if you can’t defend, then you lose.We have to put it right, it’s not about creating chances, but doing the job you have to do.’’
WYCOMBE WANDERERS: (4-4-2): Ingram 6; Donacian 7, Jombati 7, Rowe 7, Jacobson 6; Banton 7 (Sellers 75, 5), Bean 5, O’Nien 6, Harriman 8; Hayes 7 (Kretzschmar 62, 4), Thompson 7 Subs not used: Lynch, McGinn, Bloomfield
HARTLEPOOL: (4-4-2): Bartlett 6; Magnay 7, Harrison 7, Worley 4, Jones 6 (Oyenuga 68, 4); Oates 6 (Smith 80, 5), Woods 5, Featherstone 5, Carroll 6; Paynter 4 (Fenwick 57, 4), Bingham 6. Subs not
used: Denton, Nelson-Addy, Hawkins, Boyce
STAR MAN MICHA
be DOUBLE TROUBLE: Michael Harriman celebrates after scoring his second goal and, inset, Carl Magnay nets for Pools