Wycombe Wanderers 1 Bury 0
Blues boss Gary Waddock dislikes the term ‘six-pointer’ but you can bet he’s got an extra spring in his step tonight after Scott Rendell’s 69th minute winner moved Wycombe to within three points of opponents Bury who remain in the final automatic promotion place despite today’s defeat.
The attendance of only 3,673 was disappointing for a clash between two promotion condenders, but if word of today’s full-blooded entertainment spreads, the missing fans may start to reappear.
It even had an atmosphere. There’s nothing the Adams Park crowd like more than a villain to get them going, and in Efe Sodje and the referee they had two.
The early action saw Gareth Ainsworth try his luck with a speculative 35 yard volley and Scott Rendell glance a header tantalisingly wide of the Shakers’ post.
Bury threatened when Andy Haworth broke free on the right and his cross was flicked goalwards by Nicky Ajose, but keeper Nikki Bull read his intentions perfectly and made a comfortable save.
The volume was cranked-up several notches after 20 minutes when Sodje appeared to flatten Stuart Beavon with an elbow and the referee did nothing. The incident fired up spectators and players alike and the scene was set for a cracking afternoon’s football.
The visitors arrived at Adams Park having won six in a row on their travels, and at times in the first-half you could see why. But for all their neat passing and good movement, the Shakers only squeezed a couple of clear-cut chances out of a solid looking Wycombe defence.
Steven Schumacher headed an Ajose cross wide of target after 28 minutes, and shortly afterwards Ajose himself squandered a great chance when another of Wycombe’s inept short-corner routines was strangled at birth and in the resulting breakaway the Manchester Utd loanee screwed his shot wide with only Bull to beat.
The same two players were involved in Bury’s next attack, and this time it was Bull’s bravery that saved the day when he charged to the edge of his area and dived at Ajose’s feet to avert the danger.
For the Blues, Rendell collected a flick from Beavon, turned quickly and fired wide, while Beavon himself had a header turned round the post by keeper Owain Fon Williams.
Bury shaded the first-half but Wycombe were a different proposition after the break. There were some big performances out there today, with Matt Bloomfield and Stuart Beavon in particular catching the eye for their combative attitude and sheer effort.
Within minutes of the restart both sides had attempts on goal. Bury’s Andy Haworth fired a fierce shot narrowly wide from 20 yards, while for the Blues, Beavon headed an Andy Sandell cross goalwards only for Williams to safely collect.
Sandell then set Bloomfield up for a 25 yard drive which forced Williams into a diving save, and the Bury keeper thwarted the Blues again shortly afterwards when he blocked an Ainsworth shot.
Wycombe were on top now and they got the goal they deserved when Rendell scored his ninth of the season in all competitions and his first from open-play in the league.
Ainsworth started it by clipping the ball down the right wing for Bloomfield to chase. The midfielder was never favourite to get there first but he refused to give up and dispossessed Bury defender Gavin Gunning before carrying the ball into the box and laying it on a plate for Rendell to fire home.
With recent setbacks fresh in the mind, the remainder of the game was tense for home fans, but Bury never really threatened to equalise and the final whistle blew on a deserved victory which could be another big turning point in the season for Wycombe.
Leon Johnson (Looking sharper with every game)
Stuart Lewis (Never stops running)
Men of the Match
Matt Bloomfield & Stuart Beavon
Bull, Westwood, Winfield, Johnson, Sandell, Ainsworth (Strevens 75), Bloomfield, Lewis, Betsy, Rendell (Montrose 87), Beavon.