Wycombe Wanderers 1 Bradford City 0
The Blues moved up to 4th in the table courtesy of Kevin Betsy’s 82nd minute winner against a Bradford side forced to play the last half-hour with only ten men following Tommy Doherty’s dismissal for violent conduct.
It was a full-blooded battle between two likely promotion contenders, and it could have gone either way until Wycombe were handed the initiative when Doherty lost his cool and pushed Gareth Ainsworth in the face right under the referee’s nose.
Not a happy return to Adams Park for the Doc then, and former manager Peter Taylor didn’t enjoy himself much either, particularly when the referee played advantage twice in the lead up to Betsy’s winner and the visitors went to sleep and failed to play to the whistle.
The linesman was flagging for a blatant foul on Stuart Beavon near the right touchline but the ball had broken nicely for Matt Bloomfield and the referee clearly waved play on. Bloomfield then carried the ball into the box only to be brought down by keeper Lenny Pidgeley. Again the ball broke loose, and rather than point to the spot, referee Mick Russell played another advantage and Kevin Betsy slotted it home. The visitors went ballistic – but it was their own fault.
The goal was a huge relief for Wycombe who had been struggling to break a determined ten-man Bradford down.
It had been end-to-end stuff during the opening 15 minutes with the pacey Omar Daley terrorising the Blues’ defence and firing shots narrowly wide on three separate occasions.
At the other end, Stuart Beavon and Ben Strevens both tried their luck from distance, before Beavon directed a fine header goalwards only for Pidgeley to make a superb fingertip save.
A few moments later, Strevens was about to bury an Andy Sandell cross when former Wycombe defender Luke Oliver made a crucial interception to head the ball over the bar for a corner.
It had been an exciting start and a goalless draw seemed unlikely at that point, but as the game progressed chances became increasingly scarce and you began to suspect neither side would make the crucial breakthrough – until Doherty’s moment of madness tipped the scales in Wycombe’s favour.
Following Betsy’s goal, Blues’ substitute Scott Rendell came closest to making it two when his near-post flick was well saved by Pidgeley, while at the other end, Bradford almost snatched a point when Tom Adeyemi’s goalbound screamer was superbly saved by keeper Nikki Bull.
Having previously struggled at home, this was a great result for Wycombe, particularly on a day when all the teams above them dropped points.
It’s difficult to single out a man of the match when everyone played their part in a fiercely contested battle.
Bull, Foster, Winfield, Westwood, Sandell, Ainsworth, Bloomfield, Montrose, Betsy, Beavon, Strevens (Rendell 74).