Wycombe Wanderers 2 Shrewsbury Town 2
Despite a much improved performance after the break, the Chairboys only avoided a second consecutive home defeat thanks to a stoppage-time equaliser from Lewis Montrose.
The Wycombe line-up was unchanged from last Saturday.
Bull, Foster, Winfield, Bennett, Sandell, Ainsworth (McClure 81), Bloomfield, Montrose, Davies (Beavon 56), Betsy, Strevens.
It was a disappointing first-half performance from a Wycombe side who played like eleven random strangers having a competition to see who could misplace the most passes.
No lessons seemed to have been learned from the poor second-half display at Aldershot last Saturday, and you couldn’t help but wonder what exactly they do all week on the training ground.
Allowing a confident Shrewsbury side too much time and space, the Blues were soon on the back foot and were fortunate not to go behind as early as the second minute when Matt Harrold’s header crashed against the foot of the post.
Much has been said about Wycombe’s new recruits needing time to gel – and it certainly looked that way – but the Shrews included six new signings in their starting eleven and it didn’t prevent them from playing fluid football and creating a shed-load of chances.
Following Harrold’s early warning, the visitors continued to threaten Nikki Bull’s goal throughout the first-half.
Harrold himself looped another effort over the crossbar and Kevin McIntyre let fly with a 30 yard screamer that Bull did well to turn round the post. The resulting corner saw Ian Sharps hit the woodwork with a header and Craig Disley fire the rebound high and wide.
Steve Leslie then drove a low effort wide of Bull’s post and Harrold had another shot cleared off the line by Gareth Ainsworth.
Finally Mark Wright cut inside to make a chance for himself shortly before half-time only for his fierce drive to veer wildly off target.
Wycombe had created very little and the few chances that did come their way, they squandered. Ben Strevens put an early header wide of target and Alan Bennett put one over the bar. Strevens then scuffed one straight at the keeper and fired another wide from 12 yards, and finally, Matt Bloomfield blazed one over just a few minutes before the break.
Getting to half-time at 0-0 was the only positive the home fans could take from the performance.
The Blues were much better at the start of the second half. Closing the opposition down earlier and moving the ball about quickly, they finally began to give Shrewsbury something to think about and the scene was set for a more evenly balanced contest.
Andy Sandell’s 47th minute free-kick tested Shrews’ keeper Chris Neal but it was tame compared to the piledriver he was soon to unleash.
Before they took the lead, Wycombe were lucky to survive when a cross found Jake Robinson unmarked directly in front of goal, but the striker couldn’t get enough purchase on his header and Bull made a comfortable save.
Leslie forced Bull into another save shortly afterwards, and at that point Blues boss Gary Waddock made his first change by bringing on Stuart Beavon in place of Scott Davies.
Beavon’s introduction made a big difference. His intelligent running off the ball instantly offered his teammates more options and his confidence in possession helped Wycombe hold the ball up.
Sandell’s 63rd minute opening goal was a beauty. From 20 yards out, the full-back hit his free-kick with such power that it was still rising as it flew into the top left hand corner of the net giving Neal no chance whatsoever of stopping it.
With Wycombe one-up and in the ascendency, Shrews’ manager Graham Turner made what turned out to be an inspired double substitution after 74 minutes.
Lionel Ainsworth gave the Blues’ defence a torrid time from the moment he entered the fray. Only two minutes after his introduction he steered a cross into the box for his unmarked fellow substitute Tom Bradshaw to head home from close range. Waddock will no doubt be asking his defenders why Bradshaw was allowed the freedom of the Wycombe penalty area.
Matt McClure then made his first-team debut for Wycombe, replacing Gareth Ainsworth after 81 minutes. The youngster looked lively during his short time on the pitch – firing one speculative effort over the crossbar and sending in a dangerous cross which could have paid-off if someone had taken a gamble.
But with three minutes to go, it looked like Ainsworth had won the game for Shrewsbury when he jinked past two Wycombe defenders as if they weren’t there and fired an unstoppable 25 yard shot into the top corner giving Bull no chance.
Wycombe pressed for an equaliser and just when it seemed they would run out of time, Montrose collected the ball 25 yards out, steadied himself, and fired a fierce drive into the bottom left hand corner of the net with a little help from Shrews’ keeper Neal.
The full time whistle sounded on Wycombe’s sixth draw in their last seven games – a series of results which sees them languishing in 16th place – a long way from where everyone expected them to be right now.
Blues rescue a point at the death
Wycombe Wanderers 2 Shrewsbury Town 2