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Wycombe's survival hopes crushed by Walsall defeat

WYCOMBE'S survival hopes were left in tatters as they went down to defeat at relegation rivals Walsall.

WYCOMBE'S survival hopes were left in tatters as they went down to defeat at relegation rivals Walsall.

Second-half goals from Kevan Hurst and George Bowerman did the damage for the Saddlers in a game that Wanderers dared not lose before kick-off.

But lose they did and this crushing loss leaves them five points from safety having played up to three games more than the rest of the bottom five.

With Scunthorpe, Exeter, Yeovil and Chesterfield all winning it leaves Wycombe staring at an immediate return to League Two.

Both Wanderers and Walsall were in woeful form going in to this game.

So it was no surprise for the game to start in tentative fashion with both sets of players terrified of making a mistake in such a crucial game.

A downpour in the Midlands prior to kick-off did little to help the pitch and the flow of the game with Stuart Beavon sending a low shot wide and Gareth Ainsworth seeing a half-volley deflected behind for a corner.

Walsall's main threat came from wideman Jamie Paterson with the 20-year-old cutting inside to fire wide on 22 minutes before forcing Bull into a low saw five minutes later.

If the first-half was dull then the second got off to a barnstorming start.

Saddlers winger Florent Cuvelier produced a superb turn to race into the box with Dave Winfield judged to have hauled him down for a penalty.

Up stepped Nicholls but his tame spot-kick was saved by Bull to the delight of the Wanderers players and supporters.

But that delight was short lived when Walsall took the lead on 62 minutes through an easily avoidable goal.

Hurst was able to pick up a loose ball on the halfway line, race unchallenged towards Wycombe's goal and fire in a long-range drive past the motionless Bull.

It was a frustrating way for Wanderers to concede with no hint of challenge on the Saddlers midfielder and it left Wycombe chasing a game that they had competed well in.

Matt McClure and Anthony McNamee were introduced to try and inspire Blues towards a leveller but it was Walsall who had the spring in their step and looking the more likely to net next.

McClure did come close for Wanderers on 72 minutes when his low snapshot went inches wide of Grof's post but, in reality, the Walsall goalkeeper was beginning to become a spectator in the game.

Wanderers huffed and puffed but did not have the quality to create anything clear-cut against a poor Walsall to salvage a point.

Instead they shipped a second with substitute George Bowerman finishing well with five minutes to play to compound a miserable afternoon for Wycombe.

WALSALL: Grof, Sadler, Butler, Lancashire, Chambers, Grigg (Macken 82), Hurst, Taundry, Paterson (Peterlin 90), Nicholls (Bowerman 62), Cuvelier.

Subs (not used): Beever, Walker.

Booked: None.

WANDERERS: Bull, Foster, Laing, Winfield, Basey, Ainsworth (McNamee 67), Harper, Lewis, Strevens (Grant 73), Whichelow (McClure 55), Beavon.

Subs (not used): Johnson.

Booked: Harper (57 mins), Laing (79 mins).

Att: 3,491.

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