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The Wanderers came to Wearside to take on the Lads under a cloudless sky and, after weathering an early onslaught, scored twice in a few minutes to go in ahead at the break. A third with seven to go out the icing on the cake, but a fly did a poo on that icing when a heavily deflected shot pulled one back for the visitors deep in added time. What had threatened to be a bad day at the office in the first ten minutes turned into a very good day at the office.

Having recovered (just) from the shock of seeing the sun in Blackpool for the first time and discovering the Layton Rakes Wetherspoon's was named after a place and not a naff comedian who only ever worked the North pier in the 1930s, I was ready for our next game. Some media outlets were calling for Bailey Wright to return, but with Flan playing arguably the best football if his Sunderland career and Doyle being Doyle, why tinker with central defence?

The fixture computer must have been on the joy, as it had us, the mags, the Boro, Hartlepool, Darlo, and York all at home - with Carlisle heading to Pools via Newcastle and Sunderland. The central station would be interesting around 6pm, methinks.


Winchester Flanagan Doyle Cirkin

O'Nien Neil Embleton

Gooch Stewart McGeady

Subs O'Brien Huggins Broadhead Burge Pritchard Wright Alves

Amongst the Wycombe side was Josh Scowen, doubtless with a point to prove -probably that he's taller than his defence, which is the smallest in the division according to the radio- but no Akinfenwe. Perhaps Vokes would be a different kind of problem. Out came the teams, to a nerve- tingling roar and a magnificent swaying of banners, with Wycombe's players throwing themselves to the ground in preparation for their antics after 3pm. They didn't look that small to me, mind. Fibbing radio, eh?

Scowen (presumably)made us attack the North end while conceding the kick-off to us...but it was followed by two minutes of Wycombe pressure that ended with a header wide of the mark. A free from their right was eventually dealt with, and our break halted by a handball forty yards up the field on our right. Basically, the opening ten minutes weren't much fun as the visitors pushed us back with a combination of crosses from their right and big hoofs into our box. Cirkin had his work cut out against a tricky winger, and our midfield barely saw the ball.

Eventually we got to grips, with a move down the left that ended with a cross into the keeper's arms, but immediately after we moved nicely down the right, Embo cut it back onto his left and the cross to the middle saw Stewart rise way above the defence, seemingly in slow motion, to head beyond the keeper's left hand. Marvellous, Ross, on 15 minutes. A goal right out of the Niall Quinn book of centre-forwardness.

Two minutes later, while we were still arguing about how high Ross had leapt, Embo moved to the right-hand corner of the box and fired a left-foot shot across the keeper that curled into the far side of the net. Gooch-like. Even more marvellous, considering a 2-0 lead on 20 minutes looked highly unlikely on 10.

Gooch kept things moving forward with a great nutmeg and run a powerful down the right, but we wasted the throw and had to regroup. To be fair to Wanderers, they hadn't started falling over yet, and Gooch was off again, playing it back in to create an opportunity that Wycombe cleared.

O'9 was whacked in the face on halfway - off the ball and behind the ref- then fouled when he eventually got up, with the ref allowing play-on before Stewart was tripped. Yellow for the offender, as Luke mimed to the ref that he'd been punched.

Our next attack saw Winchester get forward and shoot a foot wide on 33, but we conceded a free 25 yards out from the goal kick. Please let Scowen take it - but it went for a goal kick anyway, off the attacker at the back post, under a challenge.

We needed a great tackle in the box by Luke in 38 to prevent a shot on target, and we cleared the corner and nearly got Ross away - but the ball went all the way to their keeper and we were defending again. Geads faffed and conceded possession too close to our goal for comfort, as he struggled to click into any sort of form.

We went into the last five minutes as we'd gone into the first ten, conceding another corner and having to defend for our lives. We managed to get it up our left, but our first corner was denied by an off-side flag and one extra minute was announced - which we spent in their half.

Canny stuff, Lads.

Worth the lead? Yes, as we'd scored with our only two efforts on target and, despite some defending that was frantic at times, Pato, while being the busier keeper, hadn't been called on to do anything spectacular. The big question over the Bovril (other beefy beverages are available, apparently) was whether Geads would reappear, such had been his first half input. Cirkin could certainly have done with a bit more help..or could he have linked better with his captain? At least we were top of the league before the second half started. Nice.

No changes, as it turned out. A crunchy centre-circle tackle left their player in a two-blue heap, and he needed the magic sponge when our attack down the left broke down. Geads then danced into the box, had a shot blocked, and won us a corner with the follow-up. Wycombe respond by pulling shirts all over the field, then pulling heads, with the ref missing most but spotting a handball as they broke into our box. I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies, but he had a pretty poor afternoon.

With Geads playing a more central role, he was much more involved. Winchester was having a good afternoon, but ended a great 70 yard run with a loose pass on the hour. There was applause from our fans as Akinfenwe warmed up - the size of him, man!

A well-worked free from the left edge of our box set up a shot for Wycombe, but it was hopelessly high and and wide. Cirkin then got up the field to shoot considerably closer but still wide, and Wycombe took the chance to make a substitution, with Wheeler replacing Mehmeti. We were enjoying a good spell of possession in their half as we passed the 70 minute mark, but another daft reffing decision gave the visitors a free forty yards from Pato.

With 17 to go, on came Akinfenwe for Vokes and De Barr for Kaikai. The crowd sang that parts of Akinfenwe's anatomy were offside, just to mak him welcome to Wearside. We got the ball into the box but got it stuck under our feet, then had a spell of "hooray" passing before splattering a visitor on the centre-spot.

A Wycombe corner saw their players more interested in wrestling than the ball, meaning that it floated harmlessly behind. Pato made his first real save after Akinfenwe clearly pushed Flan out of the way on the edge of our box and hit a half-hearted shot virtually straight at our keeper. Dan Neil then charged down the inside left channel, played it to Stewart coming in from the left, and he smashed it high into the net, Billy Hughes style. Seven to go, bloody marvellous, Lads.

As the opposition shaped to take a corner, Pritch, Wright, and O'Brien replaced Cirkin, Geads, and Embo - so they could get the applause and have five minutes' pipe.

Stewart was clearly pulled over as he shaped to shoot after bursting into the area, but the radgy ref waved play on. He did give us a free out on the left as three added minutes were announced, though. A shot from the edge of the box then deflected off Gooch and thus left Pato helpless as it bobbled in to his left as he had gone right. Damn.

Peep peep, all over and all in all a really good day's work. Wycombe might have created several decent chances, but their shooting had been woefully inaccurate, while we'd created more and been more accurate when it mattered.

Man of the Match? Embo had a good game and scored a cracker. Stewart had a real battle but scored twice, and Winchester was superb at the back and good coming forward. Luke was both destructive and creative - breaking up Wycombe attacks with either a crunching tackle or a deft interception, and setting up attacks with astute passes to Embo and Neil who in turn looked to the front three. A proper captain's game, even if he wasn't captain.

Embo it is, a great goal following hot on the heels of a great assist.

Happy days, and guess what - we are top of the league.