Wycombe Wanderers 1 Walsall 1
Ben Strevens went from hero to zero as the Blues squandered two valuable points in front of their biggest crowd of the season.
Having scored a fine goal just four minutes after coming on as a sub, Strevens blundered with the underweight backpass that gifted Walsall their equaliser and compounded his error by ballooning a glorious chance over the crossbar in stoppage time.
It’s unlikely that any first-timers among the community-day crowd of 7,097 will be tempted back by the football played during the opening forty-five minutes, but some may have enjoyed the drama after the break.
The first half was so poor that it was easy to imagine these two playing each other in a different division next season, and I don’t mean the Championship.
For their part Wycombe were over-reliant on the long ball to Beavon, and on the few occasions when they actually worked an opening down the flanks, there were never enough players up in support.
In forty-five minutes there were only three moments of excitement for the Blues’ fans and one for the Walsall contingent.
With two minutes gone, young winger Kadeem Harris escaped his marker and played a tantalising ball across the face of the Saddlers’ goal with no-one in a Blue shirt able to apply the finishing touch.
Ten minutes later, keeper Nikki Bull had to be at his best to tip a Kevan Hurst shot over the crossbar and that was as exciting as it got for the visitors.
Harris fired a shot wide of the post after 24 minutes and Stuart Beavon’s 25 yard daisy-cutter drew a save from Jimmy Walker eight minutes before the break.
Strevens replaced Martin Rowlands at half-time. The QPR loanee had taken a knock, but in truth, he looked off the pace anyway, and the enforced change to a 4-4-2 formation seemed to improve Wycombe’s performance.
The tireless Beavon soon escaped down the right channel and his inch perfect cross was fired home in style by Strevens.
A few minutes later new-signing Grant Basey collected a pass from Harris on the overlap and unleashed a fierce shot that was somehow scrambled off the line by the Saddlers.
From looking comfortably on-top, the Blues began to sit back on their lead, and spells of Walsall pressure saw Bull backpedal to make a save from Ryan Jarvis who also glanced a header past the post when he really should have found the net.
At this point some of us were hoping to see Jordan Ibe introduced to give the Saddlers something different to think about, probably at the expense of Gareth Ainsworth who briefly perked up after we scored, but otherwise looked listless throughout.
But it wasn’t to be, and while Marvin McCoy waited to enter the fray, Strevens battled to win possession just inside his own half before playing a suicidal 45 yard backpass which was intercepted by Alex Nicholls who rounded Bull and rolled the ball home.
Groans of anguish reverberated around Adams Park, and more were on the way……
The Blues won a corner in stoppage time and when the ball dropped to Strevens just yards from goal his volley was wild and the game was up.
It was a draw, but it felt like a defeat.
No disrespect to the Saddlers, but on today’s performance, they were the worst side to visit Adams Park this season and these are the games Wycombe really need to win.
Man of the Match – Leon Johnson
Wycombe line-up & ratings
Bull (6), Foster (5), Winfield (7), Johnson (7), Basey (6), Ainsworth (5) (McCoy 83 (n/a)), Rowlands (5) (Strevens 46 (5)), Lewis (6), Donnelly (6), Harris (6) (Grant 86 (n/a)), Beavon (7).
Blues toss away two points
Wycombe Wanderers 1 Walsall 1