Southend United 1 Wycombe Wanderers 0
This would have been Wycombe’s third defeat in a row if a freak storm hadn’t spared their blushes last Saturday.
The Shrimpers weren’t a patch on previous conquerors Gillingham and Bristol Rovers, but they still managed to record their first victory of the season at the Blues’ expense.
With Stuart Beavon sold to Preston, Matt Bloomfield out injured, and Leon Johnson on the bench, ten of the eleven players who started for Wycombe were brought to the club by current manager Gary Waddock.
There were two loanees making their debut, Watford’s Adam Thompson at right back and Crystal Palace’s Matt Parsons on the left of midfield. Thompson impressed throughout while Parsons started well but faded.
Anthony Stewart got the nod to replace Dave Winfield in central defence, Grant Basey replaced Charles Dunne at left-back, and Waddock opted for a strikeforce of Dennis Oli and Richard Logan.
The first half was a disappointment for the travelling contingent of 351 Blues’ fans who gasped in excitement as Oli shot wide after two minutes but had absolutely nothing else to cheer after that.
The killer goal arrived early enough to douse any misplaced optimism in the away end, and sure enough, although the Blues improved after the break, they never really came close to grabbing an equaliser.
In the second half, the only flurries of excitement were inspired by the introduction of semi-retired, 39 year-old Gareth Ainsworth who gave Wycombe an urgency, purpose and penetration that had been missing for the first 70 minutes.
Joel Grant was Wycombe’s most (only) creative player by a country mile, while the much maligned Oli worked hard up-front and was more effective than Logan who was replaced at half time by new-boy Jo Kuffour.
Kuffour had the best chance to equalise at the end of a promising move involving Oli and Grant, but with his back to goal six yards out, the newcomer was unable to turn and shoot.
Other than that, Spring and Grant fired a couple of shots over the bar and a late flurry of corners caused the Shrimpers mild concern, but I can’t actually remember a shot on target from Wycombe all afternoon.
Southend’s winner came from a Kevin Hurst corner after only seven minutes. Ryan Cresswell’s initial header was cleared off the line by Spring but Britt Assombalonga was first to react, and his diving header into the back of the net was enough to seal Wycombe’s fate.
Bull (6), Thompson (7), Doherty (6), Stewart (6) (Johnson 66 (6)), Basey (5), Grant (7), Spring (6), Lewis (6), Parsons (6), Oli (6) (Ainsworth 70 (6)), Logan (5), (Kuffour 46 (5))