Wycombe Wanderers 2 Aldershot Town 2
The Blues came from behind to take a 2-1 lead but missed several chances to make the game safe and ultimately paid the price when Aldershot grabbed a share of the points. The result sees Wycombe drop to 3rd in the table.
Manager Gary Waddock made five changes to the side that lost 4-1 at Chesterfield on Tuesday.
Leon Johnson and Chris Westwood replaced Rob Kiernan and Alan Bennett in central defence and the Blues looked a lot better for it.
Matt Bloomfield played well on his return to central midfield at the expense of Lewis Montrose, and while Kevin Betsy’s recall was a no-brainer, it was a surprise that he was given his favoured right-wing spot in place of Gareth Ainsworth while Ben Strevens continued to play out of position on the left.
Stuart Beavon made a welcome return up-front and tormented the Shots before his mystifying substitution late in the game. Jon-Paul Pittman had to be content with a place on the bench.
The Shots settled into the game sooner than Wycombe and after trying a few long-range efforts, they almost took the lead when Tim Sills met a cross from the right and saw his far-post header nodded off the line by Chris Westwood. The danger wasn’t over though, but when the loose ball broke to Luke Guttridge, his fierce drive was comfortably saved by Nikki Bull.
The Blues were looking second-best at this point and when Danny Foster ballooned their best chance over the roof of the away end, it didn’t help to settle the home crowd’s nerves.
Wycombe weren’t closing the Shots down quickly enough and some of their wayward passing was reminiscent of Tuesday night’s horror show.
After 25 minutes, they gave the ball away 25 yards out and Bloomfield conceded a free-kick trying to win it back. Guttridge stepped up and opened the scoring by curling his shot majestically over the wall and into the top corner of the net with Bull rooted to the spot.
Another set-piece saw Bull save a Danny Hylton header, but Wycombe were slowly growing into the game and they were rewarded with an equaliser a minute before the break.
The impressive Marvin McCoy linked-up with Betsy on the right and when the winger crossed and Shots’ keeper Jamie Young parried Scott Rendell’s effort, Foster was lurking at the far post and dived to head home his first goal for the club.
The Blues started the second-half with the same determination that recently destroyed Burton. The tempo was up, they bit into the tackle, they gave the Shots no time on the ball, and it was all one-way traffic.
Three minutes later they were rewarded when Rendell’s header found Betsy in acres of space and the winger carried the ball into the box before rifling it into the net with aplomb.
Moments later, some magic from Beavon on the left led to another chance for Betsy, but this time a defender did enough to put him off and his shot was straight at Young.
Betsy and Beavon combined again shortly afterwards, and when Beavon drove the ball across the face of goal it was a whisker away from being converted by either Rendell or Strevens.
It was all Wycombe now, and Stuart Lewis unleashed a superb shot from 20 yards which whistled narrowly past the post with Young beaten.
There was always a fear that 2-1 might not be enough, and when Strevens blasted a glorious opportunity over the bar from inside the box, the pessimists among us began to twitch.
Sure enough, with 75 minutes on the clock, Aldershot equalised when a cross was only partially cleared and John Halls was lurking outside the box to drive the ball through the crowded area and into the back of the net to make it 2-2.
Waddock reacted by bringing on Gareth Ainsworth for Rendell with Betsy moving to the left and Strevens up-front.
Buoyed by the equaliser, Aldershot scented blood and the remainder of the match was fairly even. Wycombe came close to winning it when Leon Johnson’s header hit the post, while the Shots had their fair share of efforts at the other end too.
With five minutes of normal time remaining, Waddock threw his dice for the final time by bringing on Jon-Paul Pittman and Scott Donnelly. Pittman’s introduction was no surprise, but the fact that he replaced Beavon while Strevens remained on the pitch certainly was.
Donnelly’s introduction was at the expense of Bloomfield who had beavered away all game and added a lot to his team’s performance.
Sadly, Donnelly missed an opportunity to put one over on his old club when he ballooned Wycombe’s final chance over the bar in the dying minutes.
Kevin Betsy and Stuart Beavon were the pick of the bunch for me.
Line-up & ratings
Bull (6), McCoy (6), Westwood (6), Johnson (6), Foster (6), Betsy (7), Lewis (6), Bloomfield (6) (Donnelly 85 (n/a)), Strevens (5), Rendell (5) (Ainsworth 78 (n/a)), Beavon (7) (Pittman 85 (n/a)).