Dons roll the dice and come up trumps
NEAL ARDLEY could afford himself a pat on the back after his second-half triple substitution gamble paid dividends late on as Ade Azeez fired home a 91st-minute equaliser.
The goal was a cruel blow to Wycombe youngster Jason McCarthy as the Southampton loanee had earlier celebrated his first professional goal after putting his side in front shortly after half time.
But Ardley’s switch from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 swung the game towards the home side and the former Wimbledon player was pleased to earn a point against a competitive Wycombe outfit.
“I would rather lose the game 2-0 having a right good go than losing 1-0 wishing I’d made the substitutions earlier,” said Ardley. “The 4-4-2 wasn’t working against their back four and we thought the pace and power of Azeez and Tom Elliott would cause problems and that’s what happened. I didn’t think either team did enough to win and it wasn’t the sort of game I’d want to watch every week.
“It’s what Wycombe do, and I don’t mean that in a detrimental way, but it’s hard when every time you touch a player they go down.They play for free kicks and they play areas of the pitch but they’re really good at it.”
A first half of minimal quality saw neither side assert themselves as Lyle Taylor blasted Wimbledon’s best chance over the bar from the edge of the area after Wycombe failed to clear George Francomb’s corner.
For the Chairboys, Luke O’Nien fired wide from 20 yards before Ben Wilson saved comfortably from Sam Wood’s free-kick.
But Wycombe found themselves in front shortly after the break as McCarthy bundled in from close-range after Michael Harriman’s freekick caused a scramble in the Dons box.Then the triple substitution on the hour mark came and Azeez fired home from 12 yards after Ingram’s punched clearance only made it as far as the Wimbledon striker.
Despite claims of a foul on Ingram, Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth wasn’t too downhearted and paid tribute to youngster McCarthy. “A point away at Wimbledon is a good result and they’ve been in great form,” he said.
“We were so close at the end and they’ve had one shot on target and it’s gone in.
“Matty says he’s been fouled and I think he has. We’ll have a look on the video and I can write my report but it isn’t going to get me the two points that I lost.
“When you get a player on loan from the Premier League come and score then celebrate like that in front of the fans I think that sends a big message out what it means to play for Wycombe now.” EXETER director of football Steve Perryman believes manager Paul Tisdale deserves the credit after the Grecians stunned their rivals with a second win in 11 meetings at Home Park.
Ryan Harley stole the limelight with a slick first-half double before Oscar Threlkeld gave table-topping Plymouth brief hope after the break.
The defeat saw Plymouth’s lead at the top cut to two points following Oxford’s late win at Dagenham.
But Exeter are now three points outside the play-off places thanks to their first away win since late September.
Perryman heaped praise on Tisdale for masterminding Plymouth’s second home defeat.
He said: “It was always going to be hard to beat the team top of the league. A lot of thought went into this game and that is why I am speaking to you – the manager has worn his brain out.
“They were riding high and full of confidence and we needed to be a bit special today. Ryan showed terrific quality with the two goals and we defended valiantly.
“It was a well-executed plan by the manager and he deserves the praise today.
“It doesn’t mean we are going to be promoted or get into the playoffs. It is important not to get carried away, but it will give us a real lift moving forwards.”
FLYING RYAN: Exeter’s Ryan Harley scores his second goal
STAR MAN LUKE O’NIEN Wycombe