Wycombe Wanderers 2 Lincoln City 2
Wycombe Wanderers failed to improve their poor home record with a dismal second-half performance which allowed lowly Lincoln to take a share of the points and very nearly pocket all three.
Despite twice taking the lead, the Blues never looked in full control of the game or comfortable at the back, and it was no great surprise when they conceded two goals at home for the fifth game in a row.
When Kevin Betsy opened the scoring inside the first minute there were grounds for optimism among the Adams Park faithful. Lincoln had only found the net seven times so far this season and had failed to score in nine of their last fifteen games. Sadly the Blues’ defence failed to keep them out today – twice.
The opening goal followed a surging run and two crosses from Gareth Ainsworth. His initial ball caused mayhem in the Imps’ penalty area and when it was only partially cleared he clipped it back again for Stuart Beavon to head against the woodwork and Betsy to tuck home the rebound from close range.
The Blues continued to press the shell-shocked visitors but when further chances went begging, including a woeful shot from Betsy which soared over the crossbar, the tide began to turn.
Only the front men Beavon and Strevens seemed quick to close the opposition down and once the Imps began to enjoy a bit of possession, they began to grow in confidence.
Their 21st minute equaliser began with a misplaced pass from Scott Davies who was far too casual throughout the game and whose overall contribution to the midfield battle was disappointing in comparison to what we’ve seen lately from the injured Matt Bloomfield.
Having been gifted the ball on the right touchline, the Imps switched it quickly to the left where Mustapha Carayol was unmarked in acres of space and was able to advance on goal, ignore the backtracking Danny Foster and rifle the ball home with aplomb.
The goal served to wake Wycombe up again and both Strevens and Foster saw efforts sail over the crossbar before Davies showed the good side to his game with a well taken goal after 38 minutes.
Strevens was the architect – cleverly keeping possession on the edge of the area before releasing the ball at exactly the right time for Davies to clip it home in fine style.
The Blues deserved their half-time lead but what followed was about as entertaining as watching paint dry.
Just two minutes after the break, Ainsworth and Beavon combined in an excellent move which culminated in Beavon cutting inside and curling a fine shot narrowly wide of the post – and that was about it from Wycombe in the second half.
The Imps’ had re-emerged from the tunnel looking energised while the home side looked anything but.
The visitors almost equalised after 58 minutes when Alan Bennett apparently failed to realise he had striker Andy Hutchinson for company and his failure to intercept the ball meant Nikki Bull had to save the day by diving at the forward’s feet.
Ten minutes later the Imps did score when the Blues lost possession in midfield and Hutchinson outpaced Chris Westwood to collect a speculative through ball and slot home the equaliser.
Perhaps we’ve been spoiled in the past but the current defence inspires no confidence whatsoever and the goals-against tally is beginning to reflect that fact. Having given the ball straight to the opposition on countless occasions and looked highly suspect at the back, it was no surprise when Waddock finally substituted Alan Bennett after 75 minutes. The defender was having such a poor game that taking him off was a kindness.
The Imps almost won the game when they carved Wycombe apart after 86 minutes and Luke Howell cut the ball back to an unmarked Drew Broughton who held his head in his hands after firing his shot against the crossbar when it seemed easier to score.
The second half was so dire that the last thing anyone needed was to watch an extra eight minutes, but that’s how much stoppage time there was after the original referee was injured and replaced by a whistle happy fourth official.
There was a brief glimmer of hope when Wycombe were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box in the dying seconds, but the normally deadly Andy Sandell fired his shot straight into the wall to round off a highly forgettable afternoon at Adams Park.
Man of the Match – Ben Strevens
Bull, Foster, Bennett (Winfield 75), Westwood, Sandell, Ainsworth, Montrose, Davies (McClure 95), Betsy, Strevens, Beavon
Dismal second-half display costs Blues two points
Wycombe Wanderers 2 Lincoln City 2