Wycombe Wanderers made an early exit from the Carling Cup this evening, but not before they had given Championship side Millwall a good run for their money – narrowly losing 2-1 after extra time.
McCoy Bennett Johnson Foster (Sandell 60)
Phillips Montrose Murtagh (Bloomfield 64) Betsy
Pittman Rendell (Strevens 70)
The Chairboys started brightly but it didn’t take long for the Lions to gain control and if it hadn’t been for some heroics from Wycombe goalkeeper Nikki Bull, the visitors could easily have been out of sight by half-time.
As soon as Millwall started to dominate possession and find ways to test Bull, Wycombe seemed to lose confidence. Wary of being punished, they stopped trying to play their own game and this caution saw them gift their opponents too much time and space.
Bull had already made two spectacular saves by the time he dived full length to push away a Danny Schofield shot after 26 minutes, but this time it wasn’t enough to save the day and Neil Harris was on hand to fire home the loose ball.
Wycombe’s best efforts in the first-half were a free-kick from Matt Phillips which cleared the crossbar and a mazy run from Kevin Betsy which he unfortunately capped-off with a weak shot.
Whatever Gary Waddock said to his players at half-time – it worked, and for most of the second forty-five minutes it was all Wycombe.
Betsy, Foster, Montrose and Pittman all had shots on goal, with varying degrees of accuracy, before Waddock cranked-up the pressure even further with his three substitutions.
The introduction of Andy Sandell was a sight for sore eyes. The only left-back in the Wycombe squad, Sandell was making his debut tonight having been injured throughout pre-season. Replacing Danny Foster, he slipped comfortably into his accustomed role and looked equally as impressive going forward as he did solid at the back.
Matt Bloomfield entered the fray in place of Kieran Murtagh and shortly afterwards Ben Strevens replaced Scott Rendell who hadn’t enjoyed the best of nights up-front, with no shots on goal and too many of his passes going astray.
Both Bloomfield and Strevens seem to be on the same wavelength as Betsy, and their introduction saw the Chairboys move up another gear. The passing became slicker, the midfield linked-up more effectively with the strikers and the equaliser looked even more likely.
Having already made several good runs only to be let down by his choice of final ball, winger Matt Phillips did brilliantly to create Ben Strevens’ 76th minute goal for the Blues.
Showing electric pace, Phillips beat several Lions’ defenders on his way to the bye-line before cutting back a low cross which Strevens gleefully turned into the net from close range.
The equaliser stung Millwall back into action and Bull was the Blues’ saviour yet again when he clawed away a Schofield shot which had seemed destined for the top corner.
The Blues’ last chance in normal time was created and wasted by the combative Lewis Montrose who did all the hard work to craft an opening before letting himself down with a scuffed shot.
Shortly before the ninety minutes was up, Marvin McCoy went down injured. The young right-back had played well, but he was to be a passenger throughout extra-time. All three substitutions had already been made, so the heavily limping McCoy was deployed up-front with Betsy dropping back to cover.
Extra time saw Bull drop a clanger when he threw the ball straight to an opponent, but the keeper made amends by stopping the resulting shot.
At the other end of the pitch Wycombe put together a lovely move which included Strevens and Betsy but was started and finished by Bloomfield whose powerful header flew wide of the target.
The winning goal was scored after 105 minutes when Dunne fired home after receiving an inch perfect cut-back from Marquis.
All in all, it was a battling performance from a Wycombe side who improved immeasurably after the break and can consider themselves unlucky not to have at least taken the game to penalties.
Man of the Match