Wycombe Wanderers progressed to the third round of the League Cup for the first time since 2006 thanks to another tight penalty shoot out victory, this time over Forest Green Rovers. The draw was kind to Gareth Ainsworth’s men, handing them a very winnable home tie and a chance for a money-spinning third round opponent, but they made hard work of it allowing Rovers to come back twice before eventually prevailing on penalties.
Ainsworth made six changes to the side that won at Bradford, and they all came in the forward and midfield areas of the pitch. The back five remained the same as regular cup ‘keeper Yves Ma-Kalambay had a neck injury, but a midfield three of Sam Saunders, Curtis Thompson and Marcus Bean was selected, none of whom particularly impressed and won’t be expecting a return to league action at home to Luton on Saturday. The forward line was also rotated, which saw Adebayo Akinfenwa start with Scott Kashket and Nick Freeman either side of him. New signing Alex Samuel and injury returnee Paris Cowan-Hall made the bench, while there was no place in the squad for Randell Williams, Darius Charles or Nathan Tyson.
Forest Green opted for six alterations from their draw with Swindon, with Montgomery, Grubb, Gunning and Archibald all coming into the side. Top scorer Christian Doidge was on the bench.
The first-half was quite a drab affair, with not much in the way of chances for either side and the referee Anthony Coggins looking to give fouls at almost every opportunity. The visitors’ slick passing football was creating some problems for the Wanderers defence, as Reece Brown and Carl Winchester both went close in the opening 20 minutes. After a near-own goal from Paul Digby, Adebayo Akinfenwa continuted his poor finishing so far this campaign missing two more clear headers from resulting corners. Rovers keeper James Montgomery was made to save from Nick Freeman as chances from Reuben Reid and Scott Kashket both went begging for either side before the break. Certainly not a classic in the first half.
HALF-TIME: Wycombe Wanderers 0-0 Forest Green Rovers
Wycombe started the second half on the front foot as they have done in many games this season and this led to a shot from Sam Saunders being comfortable for Montgomery. However, the breakthrough came on 55 minutes thanks to Scott Kashket, who slotted home his second goal of the season after a perfectly-weighted through ball from Akinfenwa. However, Forest Green replied almost immediately when their centre-half was allowed to roam forward and play in Dayle Grubb who placed it between Ryan Allsop’s legs. A couple of chances for Rovers to take the lead then followed, both from set pieces but Gavin Gunning’s header was straight at Allsop and then Sido Jombati blocked Doidge’s hooked effort. Somewhat against the run of play, Wanderers then went 2-1 ahead on 64 minutes courtesy of Anthony Stewart’s close-range finish after Sam Saunders agonisingly hit the inside of the post. An uneventful ten minutes followed, but the away side managed to take it to a shoot out when a free-kick was missed by everyone and Carl Winchester stabbed in at the back post. The effective substitute Samuel looked to spark Wycombe back into life, and created a couple of chances, but it was to be penalties again for a place in the third round.
FULL-TIME: Wycombe Wanderers 2-2 Forest Green Rovers
The first three penalties all went the way of the Chairboys as Jacobson and Freeman both scored and Allsop saved from Doidge. The next five penalties were all scored, which meant that Sam Saunders had the chance to win it for Wanderers. His penalty was kept out by Montgomery, which meant Paul Digby stepped up to take it to sudden death. However, Ryan Allsop saved his second penalty of the shoot-out to do what Yves Ma-Kalambay did in the first round and take his side through to the third round of the League Cup for the first time since 2006.
PENALTIES: Wycombe Wanderers 4-3 Forest Green Rovers
Gareth Ainsworth wants either a money-spinning away tie or a winnable home one when the draw is made on Thursday, but the league takes importance for the next few games with the next one a home game against Luton. The Chairboys then travel to Northampton in the Checkatrade Trophy before a league trip to crisis club Charlton. The Luton game should see a return to the fold for many of the top performers from Bradford, but Ainsworth will be pleased about another successful night at Adams Park.