Vital Wycombe would like to thank guest writer Joe Shennan for the following report.
Wycombe are off the mark at Adams Park for the 2012/2013 season but were somewhat fortunate to sneak their first home point of the campaign against a cultured Cheltenham side on a glorious day at Adams Park.
Despite going ahead as early as the 3rd minute through Keith Lowe`s own goal, the blues let Town back into the game and Mark Yates` side will feel disappointed to only have Shaun Harrad`s equalising penalty 7 minutes before half time to show for their efforts. Wanderers, who failed to register a shot on target, haven`t won at Adams Park since the 6th of March and there were boos from sections of the desperately poor crowd of 3,667 at the final whistle.
Wycombe, going into the game on the back of 2 consecutive league defeats, handed a first professional start to Jesse Kewley Graham and a home debut to new signing Jo Kuffour. And Gary Waddock would have been delighted with his side`s start to the game as, after 3 minutes, Joel Grant`s low cross was diverted into the net by the long, telescopic leg of defender Lowe in the centre half`s 100th game for the Robins. But Wycombe completely failed to build on their lead and let a confident, and often classy Cheltenham team back into the game.
With ex-blues loanee Marlon Pack and former Premier League maestro Darren Carter pulling the strings ebulliently in midfield, Town carved out a few chances of their own, with Harrad`s near post header keeping Nikki Bull alert and Sam Deering curling the ball wide from the edge of the box when he should have done better. Dominant in possession, an equaliser for Cheltenham looked inevitable and deservedly arrived after 38 minutes when Pack was clumsily felled on the corner of the penalty area by Stuart Lewis. Harrad emphatically wrong footed Nikki Bull from the spot in front of the Valley End to level the scores
Wycombe`s woes increased when Matt Spring went off injured soon afterwards, Dennis Oli having already been substituted and stretchered off midway through the first half. This latest batch of injuries means that Gary Waddock has now lost 6 regular first teamers to the treatment table.
The game continued where it had left off at the start of the second half, with Cheltenham virtually camped in the blues` half and stroking the ball about almost at will, but Yates` side failed to make their superiority count, although Harrad should have doubled his and his team`s tally for the afternoon, but shot high and wide.
Wycombe for their part did grow into the game, with Grant looking lively and Gareth Ainsworth helping to energise the crowd with a typically passionate display, but again it was Cheltenham who created the goalscoring opportunities. Jermaine McGlashan failed to square the ball to any one of three players when almost clean through, ex Wycombe winger Chris Zebroski`s shot was deflected wide, and Bull produced a fine stop to deny sub Jeff Goulding.
Gary Waddock was fairly happy with his side`s effort and application in the post match press conference and was especially positive about the performances of youngsters Kewley Graham, and Charles Dunne, filling in at right back.
Waddock was keen to stress that the growing injury list was not an excuse for any criticism that might be thrown his way, and also emphasised the fact that a league season, is, as the saying goes, a marathon not a sprint. But there`s no hiding from the fact that this was a concerning display that on another day might have seen Wycombe fall to defeat.
The start of 4 points from 4 games will far from appease any of the increasing number of Chairboys and girls sceptical of the manager`s methods. The next 2 games see tough trips to Exeter and Chesterfield – scene of THAT 4-0 horrorshow last season, and by the time the next home game against AFC Wimbledon comes around, things may look far from pretty.
Team & Ratings: Bull 7, Dunne 7, Doherty 6, Johnson 6, Parsons 6, Spring 5 (Ainsworth 6), Lewis 5, Kewley Graham 6, Grant 7, Oli n/a (Logan 4), Kuffour 5
Writer: Joe Shennan