Aldershot Town 0 Wycombe Wanderers 0
The good news is that Wycombe’s performance was definitely an improvement on last week’s dire display against Macclesfield – the bad news is that it was still toothless.
Both goalkeepers faced their former club today, but while Nikki Bull was again forced to make several excellent saves to keep Wycombe in the game – Jamie Young is unlikely to have an easier afternoon all season.
Manager Gary Waddock made several changes to the team as he elected to match Aldershot’s 4-5-1 formation – and the Blues lined-up as follows:
Foster – Winfield – Bennett – Sandell
Ainsworth – Davies – Montrose – Bloomfield – Betsy
Strevens (Rendell 81)
It was no surprise to see Gareth Ainsworth and Lewis Montrose recalled to the side in place of Kieran Murtagh and Scott Rendell, but the inclusion of Alan Bennett at the expense of Leon Johnson was a puzzling decision which looked less than inspired when Bennett squandered Wycombe’s best chance of the game at one end – and blundered near his own penalty area to present the Shots with a glorious opportunity at the other.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom as long as you didn’t expect to see Wycombe score. Apart from the opening five minutes – during which Bull made his first important save of the day from Ben Harding – the Blues pretty much bossed the first-half – albeit without having any significant shots on target.
Ben Strevens fired one into the side-netting after a neat move involving Scott Davies and Andy Sandell – Davies then curled a shot high and wide – Lewis Montrose saw his fierce drive deflected behind for a corner – and finally, a superb move featuring an exquisite first-time pass from Ainsworth and a teasing cross from Danny Foster came to nothing when neither Kevin Betsy nor Strevens were able to apply the finishing touch.
If you want to be picky – Dave Winfield’s gentle nod into Jamie Young’s hands from a Matt Bloomfield corner could perhaps be classed as a rare shot-on-target, but that really would be clutching at straws.
Another Bloomfield corner almost led to Wycombe opening the scoring after 35 minutes, but with a free-header and the goal at his mercy, Bennett missed the target altogether and directed the ball wide of the upright.
The Shots hardly threatened at all during the opening forty-five minutes. Marvin Morgan put a header high & wide and Danny Hylton curled a shot beyond the post shortly before half-time – but that was it from the hosts.
Sadly, the second-half belonged almost entirely to Aldershot and yet again the Blues didn’t have a single shot on target.
In the 53rd minute the ball narrowly cleared the crossbar as Bloomfield tried to catch Young out with a cheeky free-kick from distance with everyone expecting a cross – and that was Wycombe’s lot until the 90th minute when a looping header from Andy Sandell missed the target by a whisker with Young well beaten.
The Shots on the other hand peppered the Wycombe goal. Hylton fired a shot narrowly wide shortly after the restart and John Halls came close twice – firstly with a free kick which only just cleared the crossbar and secondly with a curling shot which missed the target by inches.
Bennett then got in a tangle beside his own penalty area and was easily dispossessed by Marvin Morgan who ambled along the bye-line before laying it on a plate for Anthony Straker who somehow contrived to fire the ball over the crossbar from only a few yards out.
In a move which many Wycombe fans felt was too little too late, Waddock introduced Scott Rendell for Ben Strevens after 81 minutes. Scott Davies had wilted by this point and the general consensus was that Stuart Beavon’s guile might have perked up what was an extremely disappointing second-half performance.
Within seconds of Rendell’s introduction, all hell broke loose in the Wycombe box as Hylton rattled the crossbar and Bull somehow kept the ball out of the net in the ensuing scramble – during which the Shots had several thwarted attempts to snatch the winner.
The Wycombe keeper wasn’t finished yet though. His best save of the afternoon came in stoppage-time when he somehow acrobatically clawed Jermaine McGlashan’s shot out from under the crossbar to save the Chairboys’ skin for the umpteenth time this season.
Some will take positives from a clean sheet and a draw at Aldershot, but there’s no point in ignoring the elephant in the room. There’s a problem somewhere when an expensively assembled team of supposedly good players can’t manage more than 15 shots on target in 7 league games. (Stats courtesy of the Football League website)
Wycombe Man of the Match – Nikki Bull