Wycombe Wanderers failed to win at their bogey ground yet again, but at least today’s goalless draw with the Hatters brings to an end a sequence of five straight defeats at Edgeley Park
In truth, the Blues will probably be relieved to have collected a point after County put them under the cosh for much of the second-half and looked far more likely to score a winner.
It was quite a turnaround after Wycombe had looked the better side in the first-half, dominating possession and stroking the ball about at will, albeit with very little end product, while for their part, the Hatters relied on the occasional long-ball forward to relieve the pressure.
Possession doesn’t mean a thing unless you’re creating chances, and Stockport’s direct approach earned them as many goalscoring opportunities as Wycombe during a first forty-five minutes in which neither keeper was really troubled.
County’s most notable efforts were a deflected Robbie Williams free-kick which hit the post and a wild volley from Daniel Rowe which missed the target altogether.
All Wycombe had to show for their copious first-half possession were a Lewis Montrose shot straight at the keeper, a glancing header from Kevin Betsy which flashed past the post and finally a blocked shot from Betsy again at the end of a particularly attractive passing move.
Sadly for the travelling-support, the Blues were a shadow of their former-selves in the second-half and would have crashed to yet another Edgeley Park defeat if it hadn’t been for some superb saves by Nikki Bull and some stout defensive work – particularly from the impressive Leon Johnson whose excellent reading of the game saved the day on several occasions.
After an hour, Blues’ boss Gary Waddock tried to change the course of the game by bringing on Matt Phillips and Jon-Paul Pittman in place of Matt Bloomfield and Scott Rendell.
Rendell had again struggled to make his mark, but Bloomfield’s substitution was a surprise, particularly as Gareth Ainsworth was having a bit of a nightmare by his own high standards.
Ironically, Wycombe’s best chance of the game came from a long ball which Leon Johnson launched from inside his own half.
As the ball was in the air, a disapproving shout of “play it out Jonno” could be heard coming from the Wycombe dugout, but it was to prove an effective pass, and when Ben Strevens collected it and beat his man before firing a low ball into the six-yard box, both Pittman and Betsy came within a whisker of applying the finishing touch before County scrambled it clear.
Attractive passing football is lovely to watch but if you mix it up occasionally, it can be disconcerting for the opposition.
The long-ball game was certainly working for Stockport and I lost count of the number of times the home fans in the distance cried out in anguish as Bull pulled off yet another save or a shot flashed narrowly wide of the target.
The Wycombe fans may have travelled to Stockport hoping for a win but in the end they returned home grateful for the draw.
Men of the Match
Leon Johnson & Nikki Bull
Foster Bennett Johnson Sandell
Ainsworth Montrose (Murtagh 84) Bloomfield (Phillips 57) Betsy
Strevens Rendell (Pittman 57)