Wycombe Wanderers battled hard but were unable to stop Huddersfield Town moving into the play-off places with a 2-1 win at Adams Park this afternoon.
Unfavourable results elsewhere mean the Blues are now nine points below safety and although it’s never over until the fat lady sings, she’s almost certainly clearing her throat by now.
Wycombe started brightly and could have gone in front after only three minutes when Stuart Beavon and Matt Harrold combined to create a chance for John Mousinho on the edge of the box, only for the midfielder to pull his shot wide of the target.
An injury crisis meant Gary Waddock was unable to name a single defender on the Wycombe bench and was forced to start with winger Kevin McLeod at left-back. Sod’s law then saw right-back Julian Kelly hobble off after only 17 minutes with winger Kevin Betsy dropping back to replace him, and Matt Bloomfield entering the fray.
Despite the enforced change of plan, the Blues continued to give as good as they got, but it was Huddersfield who took the lead mid-way through the first half when Jordan Rhodes showed the value of having a decent striker in your team, with a spectacular overhead kick following a period of pinball in the Wycombe penalty area.
The Terriers nearly doubled their lead when Neal Trottman crashed a header against the crossbar, while the closest Wycombe came were a couple of headers from Matt Harrold, one off target and one blocked by a defender.
Gareth Ainsworth continued to roll back the years with a few surging runs down the right-wing but no-one in the box was able to take advantage of his crosses.
On one occasion, with every Wycombe player defending a corner, the ball was hoofed back into the Terriers’ half, and while the rest just watched, 36 year-old Ainsworth embarked on a solo 100 yard dash to close the opposition down before they had time to launch another attack. The home fans showed what they thought of that effort with a well deserved round of applause.
Going in 1-0 down at half-time was less than Wycombe deserved, but it would have been two if Wycombe keeper Tom Heaton hadn’t made a superb stoppage-time save when he foiled Theo Robinson in a one-on-one situation after Adam Hinshelwood had slipped on the Adams Park surface.
Just seven minutes into the second half the Terriers did score again when Theo Robinson went on a determined run across the edge of the box and in the absence of a solid challenge from Wycombe, he positively buried the ball into the corner of the net.
Waddock immediately introduced Matt Phillips and Jon-Paul Pittman in place of Matt Harrold and John Mousinho.
Pittman hadn’t been on for long when he squandered a golden opportunity to pull one back. Ainsworth made it to the bye-line and cut back an inch-perfect cross which JP only had to direct into a gaping net but somehow contrived to fire straight into the arms of keeper Alex Smithies who couldn’t believe his luck.
Two-nil is a dangerous score we’re told, or at least it has been whenever Wycombe have held the lead, so when Dean Keates popped up with a goal after 73 minutes, hopes of salvaging a point were resurrected.
Making up for his earlier howler, it was Pittman’s persistence that led to the goal. Chasing a ball into the Huddersfield box, JP refused to lose his tussle with a Terriers’ defender and managed to hook a cross back into the danger area where Dean Keates nodded it past Smithies for his first goal in a Wycombe shirt.
Sadly, that was as good as it got for Wycombe. Bloomfield hit a fierce drive just over the crossbar and McLeod forced Smithies into a save, but there was to be no late equaliser this week.
Matt Bloomfield – Combative and effective – picked some good passes.
Man of the Match
Gareth Ainsworth – Another 10 like him and we’d be ok.
Heaton, Kelly (Bloomfield 18), Westwood, Hinshelwood, McLeod, Ainsworth, Keates, Mousinho (Phillips 54), Betsy, Harrold (Pittman 54), Beavon