Exeter City 3 Wycombe Wanderers 2
Despite leading twice at St James Park tonight, Wycombe were incapable of holding on for even a single point.
When your defensive frailties are so bad that scoring two goals away from home earns you nothing, you’ve got problems.
The Chairboys had the worst defensive record in the Football League last season and despite dropping a division they appear to be carrying on exactly where they left off.
Under-fire manager Gary Waddock reportedly spent pre-season working on the team’s shape in order to rectify the situation but it clearly hasn’t worked.
On thin ice after a dismal start to the current campaign, Waddock made several changes to his team tonight and most of them backfired.
Danny Foster and Dave Winfield weakened an already suspect back-four, and former Exeter striker Richard Logan offered virtually nothing up-front.
Lulling the 84 travelling fans into a false sense of security, the first five minutes were great with Exeter looking nervous as the Blues stroked the ball about confidently and to good effect.
After only three minutes, a sweeping move ended with Joel Grant finding Gareth Ainsworth in space and the veteran’s shot taking a wicked deflection into the net to give the Blues a dream start
Moments later, roles were reversed when Ainsworth’s cross was nodded goalwards by Grant and only a goalline clearance by Danny Coles prevented the Blues from doubling their lead.
Slowly but surely the Grecians gained the upper hand and Keohane had a 25 yard effort parried by Blues’ keeper Parish before Oakley saw his shot cleared off the line by Gary Doherty.
Jamie Cureton did find the net with a close range header after 23 minutes only to see it disallowed for offside.
Almost immediately, Wycombe were inches from extending their lead when Dean Morgan’s darting run and clever through ball released Grant who slid his shot agonisingly wide of the post.
An Exeter goal was coming though. A failure to close the Grecians down quickly enough and a tendency to keep giving them the ball back meant the game was being played in Wycombe’s half and it was only a matter of time before the hosts took advantage.
The equaliser finally arrived after 29 minutes when Keohane found Arron Davies in acres of space and the left-winger toyed with Danny Foster, cutting inside unchallenged before firing the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Seven minutes into the second half Wycombe were back in front. Again it was the dynamic duo of Grant and Morgan who combined, this time Grant providing the cross and Morgan nodding the ball home.
A casual observer might have made Wycombe favourites at this point. After all, this was a team of seasoned professionals supposedly fighting for their under-fire manager. Surely they wouldn’t buckle so easily this time?
Just two minutes later Cureton turned and smashed the ball home after the Blues had failed to clear their lines.
The inevitable winner came after 67 minutes when an Exeter corner wasn’t dealt with and Coles backheeled the loose ball into the back of the net.
Waddock reacted by introducing Kuffour for Ainsworth after 71 minutes, but when that failed to improve the situation, his final throw of the dice was bewildering.
Grant and Morgan had been Wycombe’s most dangerous players by a country mile and yet they were both taken off in the 84th minute to be replaced by youngsters Lee Angol and Olly Taylor.
It was a truly bizarre substitution which removed any lingering threat of an equaliser.
Line-up & Ratings
Parish (5), Foster (5), Doherty (6), Winfield (5), Parsons (6), Ainsworth (6) (Kuffour 71 (5)), Spring (6), Lewis (6), Grant (7) (Angol 84 (n/a)), Morgan (7) (Taylor 84 n/a)), Logan (4)
An inability to defend costs Wycombe yet again
Exeter City 3 Wycombe Wanderers 2