Wycombe Wanderers 0-0 Portsmouth
Wycombe Wanderers were knocked off the top of League Two this afternoon after a goalless draw with Portsmouth.
Gareth Ainsworth elected to shuffle the pack for this one. With Paul Hayes still ruled out through injury, Matt McClure returned to the line up and Hogan Ephraim was also given a starting berth with Matt Bloomfield and Aaron Holloway dropping to the bench.
In front of an encouraging crowd of 5,829, the first half almost entirely belonged to the visitors and Pompey were unlucky not to go in at the break with a lead to show for their efforts.
Kicking towards their own 1,550 vociferous supporters , Portsmouth soon realised that this game would be a war of attrition on a sticky pitch and took to the task like a duck to water.
Corners were slung into the Wycombe box but Ben Chorley, Charlie Whatmough and later Paul Robinson failed to convert opportunities at the far post and the ball found the side netting on each occasion.
Wycombe couldn’t get their game together at all, lumping long balls forward in the direction of McClure, Onyedinma and Ephraim, and it rarely stuck before it came back towards the Wanderers back line.
If you sell your best players and don’t replace them it will always be difficult to maintain form, and the composure of Scowen in central midfield and the intelligence of Paul Hayes up front was sorely missed today.
Aaron Pierre survived a penalty shout after 15 minutes as referee Andy D’Urso stayed firm as the ball accidentally bounced up and hit an arm.
Just five minutes later striker Matt Tubbs saw a header saved, before immediately breaking the offside trap in the next attack. With Jacobson playing the forward onside Tubbs was clean through on goal only to be denied by a fine low Ingram save.
Jacobson came to the rescue again moments later as he blocked Tubbs’ goalbound shot for a corner.
It took 34 minutes for Wycombe to register an effort on goal but after Murphy did well to swing over a cross Sam Wood fluffed his header wide.
Pompey were straight back on the offensive though, and Jed Wallace cut inside but saw his rising shot held well by Ingram, the saviour again.
The Chairboys’ only effort of note in the opening period was a rasping effort by Jacobson which crashed against the underside of the bar before bouncing to safety.
Portsmouth almost totally dominated the opening period, but had nothing to show for their efforts.
The second half was a different story, although it still took Wycombe some time to mount anything resembling pressure.
Pompey right back Josh Passley was yellow carded for taking Wood down, and slightly fortunate to escape a second booking for preventing Jacobson from taking a quick throw-in on the left. Tubbs drilled another shot wide for the visitors.
With Portsmouth suddenly changing their intentions and focusing on not losing the game, the introduction of striker Aaron Holloway for an anonymous Ephraim changed the flow of the match.
Sam Wood sent a volley straight at Paul Jones, Whatmough missed a clearance only for the loose ball to be scrambled to safety and Jacobson’s searching cross was flicked narrowly wide by Onyedinma.
Holloway forced Whatmough into the book as the defender cynically wiped out the big forward, before Holloway himself was harshly booked by D’Urso.
Another Jacobson set piece was then dropped by Jones but Onyedinma’s snap shot was blocked for a corner.
Wycombe were pressing for a winner now, and Jones was booked for timewasting as Holloway’s hold up play allowed the hosts to press forward. Jombati and Bean sent shots into the large travelling contingent behind the goal.
A goal never looked likely though and the game ended somewhat inevitably goalless.
The positives are that the Blues are now eleven unbeaten and the defence remains a tough nut to crack, with clean sheets in five of their last six matches.
The lack of goals is now becoming a concern though, and the return of Paul Hayes is much needed if Wycombe are to remain in the automatic promotion places for much longer.
Ratings: Ingram 8, Jombati 6, Pierre 8, Mawson 8, Jacobson 8*, Bean 7, Murphy 6, Wood 6, Onyedinma 6, McClure 4 (Craig 79′ N/A), Ephraim 4 (Holloway 66′ 7).
It’s another stalemate for the Blues
Wycombe Wanderers 0-0 Portsmouth