Wycombe Wanderers 0 Stevenage 1
Wycombe manager Gary Waddock said before the game that results were more important than performance at this stage of the season. Sadly, his players delivered neither this afternoon.
For the best part of 30 minutes the Blues were up against only ten men but not even that could inspire them to rise above a level of ineptitude you would scarcely believe possible from a team chasing automatic promotion.
It really was that dismal. Favourable results elsewhere may have lessened the impact of this particular defeat, but the warning signs have been there for a while now – Wycombe are not playing well and unless they sort it out soon, the play-offs surely beckon.
Unless I blinked and missed it, the Blues didn’t have a single shot on target all afternoon and can think themselves lucky that Boro didn’t add to John Mousinho’s 46th minute winner.
Yes, the visitors fully deserved their victory even if their physical approach to the game was ugly to watch at times.
The first-half was peppered with stoppages as Boro played to their strengths by flattening the Wycombe players at every opportunity. The fact that it took until the 37th minute before referee Horwood finally brandished a yellow card was a source of frustration to a home-crowd who felt he should have clamped down a lot earlier.
Still, it’s not like the Wycombe players are shrinking violets themselves, and it was no excuse for a lacklustre first-half performance where their only efforts were long-range shots from Ainsworth, Bloomfield and Lewis all of which missed the target and sailed harmlessly over the bar.
It was such a pedestrian display from Wycombe, that it almost felt like they were waiting to go a goal behind before they finally woke up. That was wishful thinking though – they never woke up at all.
For Boro, Mousinho came close to opening the scoring with a header that flashed past the post, while keeper Nikki Bull had to be alert to save a Scott Laird free-kick.
How Mousinho remained on the pitch after an x-rated challenge on Stuart Lewis was a mystery to everyone but the ref, and it left an ugly taste in the mouth when the former Wycombe journeyman grabbed the only goal of the game immediately after the break.
It was a good goal though. Allowed to advance unchallenged, Mousinho let fly from all of 25 yards and the ball arrowed into the bottom left hand corner of the net beyond Bull’s despairing dive to make it 1-0.
Bull then made a stunning reaction save from Darius Charles, and even after Boro had been reduced to ten-men when Laird was sent off, the visitors still looked more likely to score, with Bull turning a Chris Beardsley header round the post and Michael Bostwick heading the resulting corner narrowly wide.
Wycombe’s best chances saw Ben Strevens mistime his jump and get under a pinpoint cross from Gareth Ainsworth, while Marvin McCoy sent in a peach of a cross that flew across the face of the Boro goal with no-one able to apply the finishing touch.
There were a few goalmouth scrambles as time ran out, but Stevenage don’t have the best defensive record in the division for nothing, and they easily coped with what little the Blues threw at them.
Nikki Bull was Wycombe’s man of the Match with very little competition. Marvin McCoy and Chris Westwood showed glimpses of quality but everyone else looked mid-table.
Line-up & ratings
Bull (7), McCoy (6), Winfield (5), Westwood (6), Foster (5), Ainsworth (5) (Pittman 68 (4)), Lewis (5) (Montrose 46 (5)), Bloomfield (5), Betsy (5), Strevens (5), Beavon (5) (Rendell 53 (4)).
Blues beaten by Boro in dismal home performance
Wycombe Wanderers 0 Stevenage 1