Wycombe Wanderers 0-3 AFC Wimbledon
Wycombe’s season declined to a new low today as Anthony Stewart was sent off and the hosts were crushed 3-0 by AFC Wimbledon.
The questions were being asked even before kick off as Ainsworth named a strange starting eleven. Things soon got worse as it transpired that the hosts were lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Marvin McCoy at left back and Jo Kuffour playing as a lone striker. Playing McCoy at right back, Wood at left back and Nick Arnold at right midfield in a 4-4-2 would have seemed a more orthodox option.
The first half was fairly even before the visitors ran out comfortable winners as Wycombe simply collapsed.
Wycombe made a promising move as early as the opening minute, and a neat backheel earned a corner, but it came to nothing.
The first real chance arrived after ten minutes when ex-Wanderers’ defender Will Antwi saw his header from a corner cleared off the line.
Another former Chairboy, Alan Bennett, was adjudged to have handled the ball just outside the area on 22 minutes and was harshly penalised. Sam Wood’s free kick was blocked and Arnold’s follow-up cross again failed to find its intended target.
The best moment of the first half saw Arnold place his shot into the arms of Ross Worner following a neat one-touch passing move involving four Wycombe players.
Matt Ingram was called into action for the first time after 35 minutes but the gangly Harry Pell`s drive was comfortably tipped around the post by the keeper.
Bennett was then booked for tripping a theatrically falling Cowan-Hall on the edge of the box, before Wood’s 20 yard drive was just wide as the half came to an end.
If the first half was low on quality but quite even, the second half was a landslide as the visitors stormed to an unforgivably easy victory.
Immediately from the restart, dallying Wycombe defenders only narrowly managed to scramble the ball wide of the post as the Dons poured forward. Soon after, Wimbledon took the lead. It was a scrappy goal as a header hit the bar from a corner and debutant Charlie Wyke nudged the ball home from close range.
The opening goal saw Wycombe lose all discipline and composure as captain Lewis picked up a yellow card for dissent.
Ainsworth attempted to reshuffle things on 62 minutes but replacing Kuffour with McClure meant the Blues continued to operate with just the one striker.
Probably the best hope of creativity today, Billy Knott was then substituted five minutes later by Ainsworth in another dumbfounding decision, Steven Craig coming on in his place. Lewis and Scowen continued to perform an identical role in holding midfield.
Pell then waltzed past three static defenders before driving narrowly over the bar.
Marvin McCoy was having an absolute shocker today, but the player himself wasn’t entirely to blame as he again uncomfortably hooked the ball into touch with his left foot, playing in his unnatural position.
The resulting throw-in saw the ball ricochet around the box before midfielder Sammy Moore finally took control of the situation from Wyke’s lay off and slotted into the corner to double the Dons` lead with 15 minutes to play.
The third and final substitution saw Ainsworth put McCoy out of his misery and replace him with Morias.
Anthony Stewart, who had been booked for a rash and unnecessary tackle on the sideline moments earlier, then scythed down substitute Saint-Luce in the box, and Jack Midson slotted home the resulting penalty after 81 minutes.
With the game petering out to its inevitable conclusion by now, Jim Fenlon was correctly shown a red card for an awful late challenge on Scowen.
Whilst the plethora of changes to both personnel and formation have been frustrating throughout the season, today’s line up looked beaten before it had even kicked off. Playing square pegs in round holes and one small striker alone up front with precious little creativity to support was asking for trouble.
It was a sobering way to start to 2014 for Wycombe and the performance will find company alongside the debacles of Brentford, Yeovil and Huddersfield in recent years. The manager and players’ intentions are not in doubt but there is no nous, game plan or tactics. The way this group of players slipped to defeat was feeble and inevitable. It was the nadir of this season and it is hard to see Wycombe improving without Ainsworth given some experienced guidance, assuming the Trust have no financial leverage to go down the other route and look for a fresh start.
Wycombe Wanderers look to be heading for an ugly relegation battle this season and sadly this was a performance of a team resigned to their fate.
Ratings: Ingram (5), Arnold (4), Stewart (5), Johnson (6), McCoy (3) (Morias 80′ N/A), Lewis (4), Scowen (5), Cowan-Hall (6), Knott (6*) (Craig 67′ 4), Wood (5), Kuffour (4) (McClure 62′ 4)
Attendance: 3,513 (701 Dons)
Wycombe humiliated at home by Dons
Wycombe Wanderers 0-3 AFC Wimbledon