It’s great when a plan comes together.
Gary Waddock often talks about the way he and Martin Kuhl want Wycombe Wanderers to play. It’s a simple philosophy – he wants his team to win games by playing attractive attacking football.
At the end of last season we had a brief glimpse of what that might be like, but now that Waddock has strengthened his squad and had a full pre-season to mould them, things are really beginning to take shape.
Without wishing to tempt fate, tonight’s performance was so encouraging on so many different levels that I’m considering a trip to the bookies in the morning to place my bet on Wycombe being promoted at the end of the season.
From keeper Nikki Bull, who made half a dozen superb saves, right through to the three strikers who all found the net, every Wycombe player can be proud of their performance tonight.
It didn’t look so rosy for the first 15 minutes as Chelsea’s talented youngsters enjoyed most of the possession, weaving intricate passing patterns and taking a 13th minute lead through Aliu Djalo who fired home a rebound after Bull had made a fine save from Scott Sinclair.
But the Chairboys responded superbly. They refused to be flustered and began to play their own brand of one-touch football much to the delight of a home support which will surely grow in numbers when the news spreads that entertainment can once again be found at Adams Park.
Kevin Betsy was superb tonight in his new roving role. Popping up all over the pitch he was Wycombe’s playmaker-in-chief and when he threaded a pass to Scott Rendell after 24 minutes the striker lashed it home to square the match.
The equaliser was sandwiched between two fine efforts from Ben Strevens – both of which hit the post. The first was a shot after Rendell had unselfishly played him in, and the second was a header from a Gareth Ainsworth cross.
Not to be denied, Strevens gave Wycombe a half-time lead when he collected a clever flick from Kieran Murtagh and fired home from the narrowest of angles after 36 minutes following a superb passage of play by the home side.
The second-half started quietly but soon warmed up with Alan Bennett clearing the ball off the line at one end and Lewis Montrose bringing a fine save out of Chelsea keeper Samuel Walker at the other.
Sprinkled throughout the game were a series of brilliant reaction saves from Nikki Bull and one of the most impressive came after 72 minutes when he used his legs to prevent what looked like a certain equaliser from Franco Di Santo.
Substitute Jon-Paul Pittman had already scored four goals in pre-season before tonight’s game. Now he’s scored seven.
His superb four-minute hat trick began in the 75th minute when Betsy surged through the middle before laying the ball on a plate for JP to rifle it home.
A minute later, Marvin McCoy did well to win possession at the back before playing a lovely ball down the line to Matt Phillips. The England U19 international then ran half the length of the pitch before firing an inch-perfect cross to the back post for JP to slot his second.
Pittman’s third goal was an absolute peach of a chip over the Chelsea keeper to make the final score 5-1 to Wycombe.
This may not have been the Chelsea first team but they were a talented bunch and to play them at their own passing game and beat them so comprehensively speaks volumes for the progress Waddock is making in his attempt to restyle Wycombe Wanderers.
Bull (Arnold 83)
Westwood (McCoy 74) Bennett Winfield Foster
Ainsworth (Westlake 85) Montrose (Bloomfield 66) Murtagh Betsy
Rendell (Phillips 60) Strevens (Pittman 66)