Wycombe Wanderers 0-1 Portsmouth
As the final whistle sounded at Adams Park, Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth made his way over to referee Charles Breakspear to remonstrate, and well he might as the official softly awarded the visitors a penalty and struck off a last minute goal to deny the Chairboys.
Justice may not have been served on the night, but the grim record now reads one solitary win in 15 matches, no goal at Adams Park since the 14th December, no clean sheet at Adams Park since the opening day of the season and no win at Adams Park since 12th October, as the Blues lie ominously in 21st position.
Wycombe created by far the better chances as they were denied on numerous occasions by the outstanding Trevor Carson in the Pompey goal. The visitors then took the lead from an extremely soft penalty award before somehow holding on amidst a barrage of attempts that were cleared off the line, scrambled to safety, and finally, when the ball found the net, it was disallowed for a foul to condemn the Blues to another defeat.
Gareth Ainsworth named an unchanged line-up from the team that drew 2-2 at Mansfield Town on Saturday. That meant a home debut for left back Jordan Mustoe as well as striker Reece Styche, as fellow new signing Anthony Jeffrey again started from the bench. The only change on the bench saw Matt Bloomfield return at the expense of Jesse Kewley-Graham. Portsmouth meanwhile made two changes as Ben Chorley and Andy Barcham replaced Sonny Bradley and Jed Wallace.
As the players swapped ends and Wycombe began shooting towards the Valley Terrace, the first action of note saw Doherty give the ball away. Barcham was soon scampering down the left wing and was tripped by McCoy. The free kick came to nothing and it was the Chairboys that created the first real opening after 6 minutes. McClure’s low shot skidded across the turf from range but Carson tipped it wide for a corner. Styche then tried his luck from long range but it flew wide.
Perseverance from Nick Arnold won Wycombe a throw on the right hand side on the quarter hour mark and after the ball was launched in via the ubiquitous McCoy long throw, Styche’s header deflected wide for a corner. Wes Fogden then broke and turned Stuart Lewis in knots but Barcham’s shot was blocked.
Soon after, Nick Arnold’s corner was headed towards the bottom corner by Scowen at the near post, but Carson again pushed it away. McClure then had a similar effort to his earlier shot on the half hour, but again the Pompey glovesman tipped it wide for another corner.
From the resulting corner, the best chance of the half arrived as the ball broke loose to Styche, and the forward reacted quickly to fire an instinctive effort at Carson which the goalkeeper did superbly to bat away.
McClure fired a free kick over the top and McCoy’s cross made its way to Lewis who shanked wide as the half ended goalless but Wanderers having created by far the most clear cut chances.
Portsmouth had not had a single effort on target to cheer in the opening period, but the Pompey chimes were ringing four minutes after the break when Doherty stuck out a loose leg and caught Fogden. It was an extremely soft penalty but the referee had no hesitation and Ryan Taylor cooly sent Ingram the wrong way to hand the visitors an undeserved lead.
Scowen saw a low shot saved comfortably five minutes later, and Johnson then misdirected a chance away from goal as the Portsmouth penalty area began to be bombarded. On 62 minutes it was anyone`s guess how the ball stayed out, as McClure’s header looped over Carson, against the post but the incoming mesh of players failed to force the ball over the goal line. Doherty then sent another header wide as the set pieces continued to reign in on the away side`s penalty area.
Ainsworth replaced Wood with Bloomfield and the woeful Arnold with Jeffrey but the substitutions failed to make any real impact. The former was all huff and puff whilst the latter showed willing pace but without the required know-how on the ball. Scowen then picked up his mandatory booking for a robust challenge.
Marcus Painter was booked for taking out Bloomfield thirteen minutes from time and by now things had become desperate. Quality was in short supply and it certainly wasn’t found in the passing of McCoy or the limited scampering around of captain Stuart Lewis. Hope seemed to rest on a set piece of a bit of magic from Styche, who had showed some impressive touches throughout, but service from around him was in short supply. Patrick Agyemang replaced Jake Jervis with four minutes remaining and Johnny Ertl replaced Barcham as injury time loomed.
With five minutes additional time announced, Styche had an overhead kick blocked, and then the majority of the 3,733 crowd were ready to celebrate a last ditch lifeline as yet another almighty scramble ended with Doherty forcing the ball home, but the referee blew for a foul on the goalkeeper. McClure was booked for his protests.
Time was up and the Pompey fans kept banging the drum whilst guiltily tucking three points inside an overblown trumpet, but will they care, will they heck.
There will be complaints about the refereeing decisions but once Portsmouth sat on their fortuitously gained lead, Wycombe did not have the quality to break their opponents down. Excuses are futile and results are now all that count. Luck may have been in short supply but that cannot be controlled. Effort and passion was on show but the tactical nous to break down the opponent was missing, especially from a midfield that hustled and bustled but eventually ran out of puff.
With Wycombe lingering just above the relegation zone and ready to visit 22nd placed Bury on Saturday, you wonder whether the Trust may have a difficult decision to make should fortunes not change in the near to immediate future.
Ratings: Ingram (6), McCoy (5), Doherty (6), Johnson (6), Mustoe (6), Arnold (4) (Jeffrey 62` (5)), Scowen (6), Lewis (5), Wood (6) (Bloomfield 62` (5)), Styche (7*), McClure (6).
Pompey Steal The Points
Wycombe Wanderers 0-1 Portsmouth