Wycombe Wanderers’ start to the season took a lurch for the worse with a 2-1 defeat to Macclesfield Town at Adams Park.
Stunning first half goals from Colin Daniel and Tyrone Barnett gave the Silkmen a two goal lead and despite pulling a goal back in the second half through Scott Rendell’s penalty the Wanderers never looked like finding an equaliser.
Macclesfield will enjoy their first victory of the season and a deserved one at that. Wycombe meanwhile taste their first league defeat of the season and it should serve as a wake-up call that results need to be earned in this division and significant improvement is required if promotion is to be achieved.
Manager Gary Waddock endured the worst possible start to the afternoon when striker Jon-Paul Pittman was injured during the warm-up and after being attended to by the club doctor he was stretchered off the pitch. The club have revealed that he has injured his hamstring and will have a scan to discover the full extent of the injury.
The Wycombe boss sprung a surprise by selecting Kieran Murtagh in place of Lewis Montrose. New loan signing Scott Davies started ahead of Gareth Ainsworth who joined Montrose on the bench.
The Chairboys lined-up as follows: (4-3-1-2)
Danny Foster – Leon Johnson – Dave Winfield – Andy Sandell
Scott Davies – Kieran Murtagh – Matt Bloomfield
Ben Strevens – Scott Rendell
Substitutes: Steve Arnold, Alan Bennett, Chris Westwood, Lewis Montrose, Gareth Ainsworth, Stuart Beavon, Matt McClure
The Macclesfield Town line-up was: (4-4-2)
Paul Morgan – Izak Reid – Nat Brown – Carl Tremarco
Ross Draper – Hamza Bencherif – Paul Bolland – Colin Daniel
Emile Sinclair – Tyrone Barnett
Whilst on the pitch the club looks to bounce back up to League One at the first attempt, off the pitch the club is pursuing a new community stadium in Booker. Yet it seems neither are attracting supporters to Adams Park and this afternoon’s attendance of 3,789 is the second lowest recorded for a Saturday afternoon Football League match at home.
Those that stayed away will feel they made the right decision as the Chairboys allowed the Silkmen to dominate the opening quarter of an hour. It was a desperately lacklustre showing from the hosts and the visitors should have been ahead in the opening minute but Emile Sinclair screwed his shot wide at the far post following Colin Daniel’s low cross from the left. Scott Rendell was denied a morale-boosting first goal from open play when his header was pushed around the post by Macclesfield goalkeeper Jose Veiga on 5 minutes.
Town took the lead on 11 minutes when Colin Daniel smashed home a stunning shot from 20 yards that flew into the net via the post after his initial free-kick had been blocked by the defensive wall.
With the Wanderers still looking like they’d just got out of bed the visitors doubled their lead on 14 minutes. Tyrone Barnett was given all the time and space he needed in the left-hand corner of the area and smashed a half-volley past Nikki Bull and into the top right hand corner of the net.
Both players and supporters were shell-shocked at what they were witnessing and it should have got worse when Emile Sinclair was given the freedom of the Wycombe penalty area but shot high over the bar.
Town midfielder Hamza Bencherif then crashed a dipping shot from 30 yards that had Bull beaten all ends up and he was relieved to see it crash off the top of the crossbar and into the 57 visiting Macclesfield fans. They too were probably pinching themselves as their side made a mockery of the two clubs respective resources. Striker Ben Strevens headed straight into the arms of Veiga in first half injury-time and the half-time whistle signaled a chorus of boos from a dismayed home crowd.
Waddock made two changes at the break with Lewis Montrose and Gareth Ainsworth replacing Kieran Murtagh and the injured Matt Bloomfield who had picked up a dead leg. The performance level was raised from atrocious to mediocre as the visitors looked to protect what they already had.
Six minutes into the second half Ainsworth crossed for Stevens but he couldn’t keep his header down and two minutes later Rendell wasted the best chance of the game.
Kevin Betsy’s neat through ball split the Town defence and the £125,000 striker only had to Veiga to beat but fired a tame effort straight at the goalkeeper. It was symptomatic of a player who is completely drained of any confidence. Incredulity increased even further just past the hour when Andy Sandell’s goal-bound header smacked against Strevens and over for a goal-kick.
Wycombe finally got back into the game when referee Pat Miller awarded a very dubious penalty after he adjudged that Paul Morgan had brought Betsy down inside the area. The decision could quite as easily have gone against Betsy but it was just the lifeline the hosts needed. Rendell bravely stepped up and whilst his spot-kick lacked conviction Veiga dived the wrong way and the visitors’ lead was reduced to 1-2.
The Silkmen might have been expecting to be put under pressure during the final 25 minutes but they were rarely troubled as the Blues huffed and puffed but rarely looked like a big, bad wolf. Andy Sandell had to make a timely inception to deny Daniel on a break and the introduction of Stuart Beavon with seven minutes remaining made little difference. Ainsworth had the only real chance to level but sliced his shot horribly into the advertising hoardings. Bull had to make a fine block to deny Daniel in injury-time and they were soon raising their arms in victory as the final whistle blew.
Whilst the season is just half-a-dozen games old and today’s defeat is the first the side has tasted in the league there are no redeeming features from both the performance and the result for Wycombe. It was a dismal afternoon at Adams Park and one to forget.
1. Nikki BULL – 6
2. Danny FOSTER – 4
3. Andy SANDELL – 6
5. Dave WINFIELD – 5
6. Leon JOHNSON – 5
22. Scott DAVIES – 5
10. Matt BLOOMFIELD- 5 Sub: 17. Lewis MONTROSE 46 mins) – 5)
8. Kieran MURTAGH – 4 (Sub: 7. Gareth AINSWORTH 46 mins – 5)
11. Kevin BETSY (capt) – 5
12. Ben STREVENS – 5 (Sub: 24. Stuart BEAVON 83 mins) – 5)
9. Scott RENDELL – 4
Standout visiting player – Colin DANIEL