178 Wycombe fans made the trip to Edgar Street on Tuesday. Those who are not questioning their sanity after doing so are probably already insane. The rest are on their way.
Sure loyalty played its part. In fact it is probably the biggest part. There really is little other rationale for making such a journey. Those who did venture West were not rewarded. They witnessed an uninspiring contest between two sides who screamed average like a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert.
There was a cheer from the home faithful amongst the 1,633 crowd at Edgar Street when the final whistle sounded. Whether it was due to the point gained or being put out of their misery was unclear.
Many Bulls fans will rightly suggest that they would have taken all three points had it not been for Nikki Bull. Yes, him again. Some Chairboys (and girls) are so used to his outstanding performances between the sticks this season that it has become routine. He is a glove-in for player of the season.
However on the balance of play a point each was just about right.
Gary Waddock has hung his hat on this team to get him promotion. His team selection over recent weeks suggests he has faith in them. But in private you can’t help but think he will be worried. They are, for the most part, honest triers. But they are, for the most part, journeymen footballers who look like they belong in League Two.
The opening twenty minutes saw the hosts sit back and attempt to draw the sting from the second placed side in the division. They were unnecessarily cautious. There was no sting. Defender Marvin McCoy slashed an early shot out of the ground, Rendell headed wide from Donnelly’s right-wing cross and Kevin Betsy’s low shot was comfortably dealt with by home goalkeeper Adam Bartlett.
The Bulls came back into it and midfielder James McQuilkin twice went close before Bull was called upon to keep the Blues on level terms. He flung himself to his right to push away full-back Ryan Green’s shot. Minutes later Donnelly wasted the Wanderers best chance of the first half when the ball bounced to him just inside the area but he couldn’t keep his half-volley down.
The first half had the air of an end of season encounter and little changed at the start of the second half. Gareth Ainsworth again provided what little quality there was from the visitors and he had a shot blocked before Stuart Beavon hit a volley into the Meadow End.
Waddock tried to change things in an attempt to find a spark. To find something, anything that hinted at his side being the ones pushing for automatic promotion. Pittman replaced Rendell, but made little difference. Murtagh replaced Donnelly but again any difference was negligible. Sandell replaced Ainsworth to take his place on the left of midfield with Betsy switching to the right. He did at least make his mark.
He twice came the closest to finding that elusive goal. He mishit a shot that looped up into the air and smacked the left-hand upright before being cleared. He then met a right-wing corner with a header from ten yards but directed it straight into the arms of Bartlett.
That was about as good as it got for the Blues in an attacking sense. At the other end Bull pulled off a fantastic save to push Stuart Fleetwood’s shot away for a corner and denied the same player when he got a hand to touch his low shot around the post. He has not been beaten in the last 329 minutes of football.
There was little urgency even in the three minutes of injury-time that were mostly disrupted by the referee who seemed to be creating his own entertainment with the whistle. His final blast meant the game ended in stalemate and an opportunity missed for the Wanderers to give themselves some margin for error in the final six games.
It might also have given them some belief but on this performance the over-riding feeling is one of doubt and the inescapable conclusion that we are probably just not good enough to finish in the top three. Fortunately there are six more performances to prove otherwise.
Bull 7, Foster 5, McCoy 6, Winfield 5, Johnson 6, Montrose 6, Donnelly 5 (Murtagh 5), Betsy 5, Ainsworth 6 (Sandell 6), Rendell 5 (Pittman 5), Beavon 6