Thirteen months ago Wycombe Wanderers travelled to top of the table Chesterfield with both sides challenging for promotion to League One. They were sent packing with their tails between their legs after being comprehensively beaten 4-1 by the Spireites.
On Easter Bank Holiday Monday the Chairboys returned to face a demoralised side sitting bottom of the table and destined for a return to League Two. Despite that, the hosts crucified the visitors with a humiliating 4-0 rout which effectively condemns Wanderers to relegation with them.
As has regularly been the case this season, the pre-match talk has rarely been followed by the walk. How Stuart Lewis will now be regretting his pre-match bullshit. He said: “We went there last year and they thoroughly dominated the game. We won’t let that happen again.”
This was far, far worse. This was yet another embarrassment to file alongside those at Fleetwood, Bournemouth, Huddersfield, Brentford and Scunthorpe. This was a feeble excuse of a team which put in a feeble performance in a feeble attempt to avoid relegation.
If any of the players out on the pitch this afternoon actually wanted to stay up, they certainly didn’t show it. Sure, there were nerves and that was to be expected. But they failed to show anything at all. No ability, no fight, no confidence. Nothing.
Supporters had been lulled into a false sense of hope following seven games without defeat. The loss of Paul Hayes always seemed like it would be pivotal but even he wouldn’t have been able to save us this afternoon.
Manager Gary Waddock named an unchanged starting line-up from the side who rescued a late point at home to Carlisle United on Good Friday. The opening half hour was incredibly scrappy with constant heavy rain not conducive to free-flowing football.
That would be a convenient excuse for the visitors’ abject inability to pass the ball to a team-mate. Chesterfield were little better and it took them half an hour to realise that the Wanderers were there for the taking.
Winger Chris Hackett had the first chance of the game when he was played through by Stuart Beavon but home goalkeeper Tommy Lee came racing off his line to make the block. Lewis also had a close range header blocked from a Hackett corner but that was as good as it got in attacking sense.
The game changed in the 29th minute when some shambolic defending allowed Franck Moussa’s left-wing corner to reach Craig Westcarr and he tapped home from all of a yard. The visitors were then forced to bring on Leon Johnson before the break after Anthony Stewart appeared to injure his thigh muscle.
The second half started promisingly with Gary Doherty dribbling a shot straight at Lee but that promise lasted less than 90 seconds. The hosts raced up the other end with substitute Scott Boden teeing up Moussa to drive low into the net from the edge of the area.
The Chairboys were now being over-run and it got worse five minutes later. Alex Mendy had too much strength for Marvin McCoy and then curled his shot around Doherty and past Bull to find the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
The rain continued to lash down as if to illustrate the dark mood of the visiting fans but their torment was far from over. Bull made a superb save from point-blank range to deny Jimmy Juan and the ball was somehow scrambled clear.
Waddock threw on Gareth Ainsworth and then Matt McClure in a forlorn attempt to rescue something but that meant Lewis was switched to right-back. He endured a nightmare last half-hour as the visitors folded like a pack of cards.
McClure did have two attempts on goal in the space of a minute but the home side were now in total control. It wasn’t long before a fourth goal arrived and it was a carbon copy of the third. Jordan Bowery got the better of Lewis on the left and curled his shot past Bull and inside the right-hand post.
It could have got embarrassing. Bull pulled off another fine stop to palm away a stinging drive from Bowery. Moussa and full-back Liam Ridehalgh fired efforts high and wide whilst Bowery and Mendy both sent headers inches wide of either post.
Both away players and supporters were begging to be put out of their misery long before the fourth official signalled three minutes of injury-time. The sound of the final whistle was a merciful relief and Wycombe Wanderers left the field totally and utterly humiliated.
Any hope of survival is now pure fantasy. This was a performance of a side that doesn’t have any belief in itself. Those players have let themselves down. They have let the supporters and the club down.
469 Chairboys (and girls) made the journey in appalling conditions to witness an abject surrender. Some will still play with the BBC predictor but it is now little more than statistical masturbation.
The players have also let Gary Waddock down. Whilst the supporters have differing opinions on the merits of individual players, the manager has given them his support and backing and put his trust and faith in them. He will be a very disappointed man this evening.
He should also be taking the responsibility for such a humiliating display and for a second inevitable relegation in just three years. He has gone on record on numerous occasions to thank the owner for his support and Steve Hayes has also been let down.
Of course the bigger picture is much bleaker than a simple relegation. Bull and Beavon aside, our best players don’t belong to us and will be leaving us in the summer. Beavon won’t be sticking around either.
We will need to have our transfer embargo lifted before we start thinking about replacing them. That requires our 2010/11 accounts to be signed off and our current owner is currently on bail pending further investigations into allegations of computer hacking.
It should give our 125 year anniversary celebrations a certain tinge of irony.
Bull 7*, McCoy 3 (McClure 4), Basey 3, Doherty 4, Stewart 5 (Johnson 4), Eastmond 5, Bloomfield 3, Lewis 3, Hackett 4 (Ainsworth 3), Strevens 3, Beavon 4