Preston North End 3 Wycombe Wanderers 2
Vital Wycombe would like to thank guest writer Tom Bowers for the following report.
Wycombe Wanderers slipped to a fourth consecutive defeat as defensive frailties once again proved to be their downfall in a 3-2 reverse against ten-man Preston North End.
Marcello Trotta notched his 7th goal for the club inside the opening ten minutes to give the Blues the lead but the Lilywhites roared back as goals from Harry Bunn, Jake Jervis and a Paul Parry penalty gave them a two goal lead.
Left back Steven Smith saw red just past the hour mark before Trotta slammed home from close range to restore hope with a minute remaining. However the hosts saw out six minutes of injury time to claim a win in front of the watching Graham Westley who will take charge of first-team affairs on Monday.
The notoriously physically-minded manager will no doubt be impressed with his new side`s prowess from set pieces with every goal emanating from well-drilled corners but Wycombe will be fully aware that they were major contributors to their own downfall.
Manager Gary Waddock reacted to Friday`s embarrassing 6-0 home defeat to Huddersfield Town by handing a first-team debut to 19-year-old defender Anthony Stewart who put in an assured performance in the centre of defence.
Fellow youth-team graduate Kadeem Harris was also given a starting berth and looked a constant threat as his pace tested the full backs on both flanks.
After absorbing some brief early pressure the Blues took the lead when Trotta netted the side`s first goal in four games. After initially seeing his shot saved by Thorsten Stuckmann the Italian kept his cool to fire a composed finish into the far corner.
This buoyed the visitors and after controversially seeing a goal disallowed Stuart Beavon tested Stuckmann with a shot that had the German sprawling across his goal.
However this profligacy in front of goal proved to be costly as Manchester City loanee Bunn slotted home from close range after Nikki Bull misjudged a corner.
The setback before half time seemed to deflate Waddock`s men as the Lilywhites took the lead two minutes before the hour mark. Once again it came from a corner as Jervis did the formalities from inches out after defender Clark Carlisle rattled the crossbar with a towering header.
This was not the end of the Wanderers` set-piece woes when Stewart foolishly shoved David Gray in the box following a Paul Coutts corner just four minutes later. Paul Parry sent Bull the wrong way to double the lead as a fourth consecutive defeat for the Blues loomed.
Smith`s dismissal for a second yellow produced attacking changes from Waddock with Joel Grant replacing defender Grant Basey but unfortunately not a renewed impetus as the hosts kept them at arm’s length.
It took until the 89th minute to conjure up a response when Trotta lashed beyond Stuckmann from close range but the hosts deployed some cunning time-wasting tactics as the lengthy six minutes of injury time slipped by without any notable Wycombe pressure.
It’s certainly frustrating to have netted five times in two games against a side relegated from the Championship and to score no points and it once again points to some truly woeful defensive performances.
One clean sheet in 26 games is not acceptable in any division and with over two weeks of the January transfer window remaining this certainly has to be addressed before relegation looks a foregone conclusion.
The game also marked Trotta`s last game of his current loan spell but with Fulham manager Martin Jol understood to be open to the idea of allowing the Italian to stay until the May, at least we may only be looking at problems at one end of the pitch.
Bull – 5
McCoy – 5
Stewart – 7
Foster – 6
Basey – 6
Lewis – 6
Bloomfield – 7
Strevens – 5
Harris – 7
Beavon – 7
Trotta – 8*