Wycombe Wanderers 0 Stevenage 1
The Blues enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in a game of few chances but couldn’t find the net and paid the price when Lawrie Wilson’s late goal dumped them back in the relegation zone and cemented Boro’s place in the top six.
When you’re near the bottom of the table you can’t afford to lose the games you deserve to win, but with Wycombe seemingly unable to keep a clean sheet, they’re always vulnerable to injustice, and Graham Westley’s well organised side duly obliged.
Blues’ boss Gary Waddock made just one change to the side that beat Exeter 3-1 on Boxing Day with John Halls being plucked from the reserves to replace the suspended Stuart Lewis.
Neither side impressed during an opening ten minutes of long balls being pinged back and forth, but Wycombe were quicker to settle and had their first attempt on goal after 16 minutes when Stuart Beavon headed Matt Bloomfield’s free kick wide of Chris Day’s left hand post.
Five minutes later a fierce drive from Joel Grant was fumbled by Day who could only turn the ball round the post for a corner.
Moments later the Boro keeper mishandled again, this time fumbling a John Halls free-kick, and from the resulting corner Grant curled a shot narrowly wide of the post.
Boro’s first attempt on goal didn’t arrive until the 34th minute when Michael Bostwick fired his shot well wide of Nikki Bull’s right hand post.
With the Blues looking increasingly likely to make a breakthrough, Boro manager Graham Westley made a double substitution as early as the 37th minute – introducing on-loan Arsenal players Chuks Aneke and Luke Freeman in place of Don Cowan and Stacy Long.
The visitors had their best chance of the first-half five minutes later when Grant gave the ball away cheaply allowing Aneke to find Wilson whose low drive was superbly saved by Bull.
The feeling at half-time was that Stevenage weren’t as strong as many had feared and that the Blues had enjoyed the upper hand albeit with nothing to show for it.
Seven minutes into the second half, Beavon flicked one wide and ten minutes later Bostwick fired one over the bar for Boro.
Dave Winfield hobbled off injured after 65 minutes and Danny Foster moved to central defence with Grant Basey taking over at left-back.
Trotta met a Beavon cross with his head to test Day after 69 minutes and moments later the Boro keeper blocked a low drive from Beavon and the Italian pounced on the loose ball but could only poke his shot over the crossbar.
Bostwick and Aneke both missed the target from distance for Boro, but with nine minutes remaining Wilson broke Wycombe hearts with the only goal of the game.
Freeman made space for himself on the left before playing a low cross into the box where the unmarked Wilson gleefully planted the ball past Bull. It was all too easy.
Late-substitute Gareth Ainsworth almost rescued a point when he met Trotta’s cross with a first time shot, but Day somehow kept the ball out with his legs to thwart the unfortunate Blues.
Boro almost rubbed salt in the wound during stoppage time but Freeman missed an absolute sitter.
When the final whistle sounded it was an extremely disappointing result for Wycombe but the fairy tale continues for Stevenage who successfully ground out another win despite looking distinctly average on today’s performance.
Man of the match for Wycombe was Matt Bloomfield who tackled like a lion and never stopped running.
Line-up & ratings
Bull (6), McCoy (6), Winfield (6) (Basey 65 (5)), Johnson (6), Foster (6), Grant (7), Bloomfield (8), Halls (5), McNamee (6) (Ainsworth 86 (n/a), Beavon (7), Trotta (6)
Boro snatch the points with a late goal
Wycombe Wanderers 0 Stevenage 1