Stevenage 0 Wycombe Wanderers 0
A dominant second half performance went unrewarded as Wanderers drew 0-0 at Stevenage.
The first half performance was far from the best despite Scott Brown (yes Scott Brown) seemingly opening the scoring only for the linesman to rule that it didn’t cross the line.
But in the second half only one team looked like winning, and that was Wycombe.
Gareth Ainsworth made two changes to the side that beat Leatherhead in the FA Cup last week. Eberechi Eze came in for Sam Saunders and Nick Freeman replaced Dayle Southwell.
Nathan Tyson was back on the bench after missing the last two months having picked up a knee injury at Cambridge in early October.
The hosts started the brighter of the two sides, with Matty Godden flicking an early header wide.
Wanderers then almost took the lead in comical fashion. A Joe Jacobson cross was caught by Boro keeper Joe Fryer, but he collided with his defender and dropped the ball which trickled towards the line until he made a frantic recovery.
Wycombe were to get even closer to this line later in the half.
Neither team were really stamping their authority on the game in what was a drab affair, as half chances came and went for both sides.
The lively Alex Samuel beat Adam El-Abd down the wing for Boro before cutting back to Matty Godden. His shot was blocked by a combination of Anthony Stewart and Nick Freeman and the rebound was fired narrowly over by Tom Pett.
Eberechi Eze then tried to work his magic, but his curling effort went wide.
A spell of Stevenage pressure was well dealt with by the Blues before Luke O`Nien headed straight at Fryer from a corner Wycombe won on the break.
With the opening half dragging, an Adebayo Akinfenwa flick found Craig Mackail-Smith through on goal, his 50/50 challenge with Fryer saw the ball break to Nick Freeman, but it was an awkward height and he could only fire wide.
Freeman did test Fryer moments later, but the Boro keeper got down and held well.
Then as the first half entered stoppage time the opening goal appeared to have arrived.
Scott Brown took a free-kick and when Fryer came and missed it the ball bounced towards goal. The Boro defence hooked it clear but it looked like it went over the line as Brown celebrated an unlikely goal.
The linesman didn`t give it but having seen highlights it looked like it crossed the line and Wanderers should`ve gone into half-time 1-0 up.
The encouraging final few minutes of the first half were certainly an indication of things to come for the visitors.
The second period started in lively fashion as Freeman fired wide and Stevenage won a corner all in the opening minute.
Chris Whelpdale headed into the side netting from a Joe Martin cross, but that was the end of Boro`s chances for the afternoon as Wycombe began to dominate.
This dominance coincided with Sam Saunders replacing Eze and the returning Tyson replacing Freeman. It was refreshing to see Ainsworth make some early substitutions.
Tyson was immediately into the action, showing pace down the left and winning a free-kick which came to nothing.
This was the beginning of an added impetus for the visitors, with Mackail-Smith right in the thick of an action forcing a save from Fryer before having another effort deflected wide for a corner.
A sustained spell of pressure followed, with two corners and a free-kick dealt with by Stevenage, before Anthony Stewart came close.
It was all Wycombe now and only one team looked like winning. as Tyson glanced a free header wide from a Mackail-Smith cross with just over ten minutes to go. He probably should`ve done better.
The pressure continued and the closest Wycombe came was after 82 minutes when a long Brown goal kick was headed backwards by Akinfenwa and his flick bounced off the post just beyond Mackail-Smith.
Sido Jombati couldn`t direct a corner goal-wards as the visitors continued to look the more likely heading into three minutes of stoppage time.
Despite all the pressure Wanderers couldn`t turn it into a goal and the game finished all square.
On reflection it`s probably two points dropped and Stevenage were there for the taking.
There`s a difficult Christmas period coming up, starting with 20th placed, but on-form, Chesterfield at Adams Park next week.
Brown 6 – Almost scored the winner and mainly untroubled.
Jombati 5 – Mixed performance. We miss Harriman.
Stewart 6 – Not at his best but good enough game.
El-Abd 6 – Solid.
Jacobson 6 – Same old JJ performance.
O`Nien 8* – Brilliant, seems to have grown a few inches. Won everything in the air and tried to make things happen on the ball.
Bloomfield 6 – Put himself about.
Eze 5 – Never got into the game.
Mackail-Smith 7 – What a work horse. Not quite his day but still a great game.
Akinfenwa 5 – Didn`t look fit, looked like he was struggling, yet still almost scored a winner.
Freeman 5 – Pretty anonymous for the majority of the game.
Saunders 7 – Made a difference and added to our dominance.
Tyson 7 – Great to have him back, Did well and looked a threat.
Blues and Boro share the spoils
Stevenage 0 Wycombe Wanderers 0