Wycombe Wanderers crashed to a fourth successive league defeat after losing 1-0 to Yeovil Town at Huish Park. The visitors fell behind after just eight minutes to a 30-yard strike from midfielder Ed Upson which caught out goalkeeper Nikki Bull. The Blues are still to keep a clean-sheet in ten games so far this season.
The hosts should have added to their tally before the break but despite having the better of the second half the Chairboys simply huffed and puffed and never looked like getting back on level terms. The closest they came was through striker Elliot Benyon`s close range header that home goalkeeper Jed Steer touched over the bar.
The 167 away fans endured a miserable evening, and with the side dropping into the relegation zone in League One, all that`s left is to clutch at straws as a long struggle against relegation seems increasingly likely. Performances and results can be analysed to the nth degree but the simple truth is that, on last night`s showing, we are just not good enough.
Manager Gary Waddock made three changes to his starting line-up with one being forced upon him. That was Benyon coming in to replace Stuart Beavon, who missed out with a head injury. Kevin Betsy started ahead of Ben Harding whilst Danny Foster was surprisingly recalled in favour of Marvin McCoy at right-back. The formation was probably meant to be 4-4-2 but with Strevens playing so deep it was more of a 4-4-1-1.
The opening exchanges were fairly even but that all changed on eight minutes when Upson received possession some thirty yards from goal and tried his luck. The speed and power with which he hit the ball did for Bull who managed to get a hand to it but was unable to prevent it from finding the back of the net. A goalkeeper of Bull`s class should have saved it and the time he spent laying on the floor afterwards suggested he too felt the same.
Most of the Blues early attacking play went through Benyon who spent most of the time falling to the floor almost every time he received the ball. At first referee Oliver Langford seemed to accept he was being fouled but by the end he wasn`t even awarded a free-kick after being hauled to the ground by an opponent.
Benyon had a great chance to level when he was put through on goal by Betsy but seemed to be put off by Steer as the goalkeeper raced off his line and the two players ended up in a heap on the floor. Any attacking threat from the Wanderers was posed by Joel Grant who combined well with Betsy midway through the first half but the latter’s cross was cut out at the near post.
Four minutes later Grant cut in from the left and then hit a low right-footed drive inches past the post. Yeovil reasserted themselves and striker Steve MacLean smashed a shot against the top of the bar after some dreadful defending and the visitors were grateful to defender Danny Foster for hacking Upson`s deflected effort off the line.
Yeovil`s wingers, Alan O`Brien on the left and Anthony Edgar on the right, looked to have the beating of both Foster and Sandell respectively, with the latter putting in yet another disappointing display. Bull was also relieved when he allowed Kieran Agard`s shot to squirm through his hands and roll just wide of his right-hand upright.
Midfielder Stuart Lewis shot straight at Steer from just outside the box before Grant again went close in time added-on at the end of the first-half with a left-footed shot that bent inches wide of the far post. Many travelling fans will have been pleased to have got to the break just one goal behind.
Wycombe started the second-half searching for an equaliser and striker Ben Strevens should have at least directed his header on target from Scott Donnelly`s corner. The visitors had two penalty appeals waved away, the first when Betsy was flattened and the second when the ball hit the raised hand of a defender.
Striker Scott Rendell replaced the ineffective Strevens just past the hour and almost immediately he played a dangerous low cross that should have been attacked by Benyon had he been awake. Rendell contributed little thereafter. Kadeem Harris was also given twenty minutes to show what he could do but made little impact on the game.
There was a five minute period of play midway through the second half where both sides plumbed the depths of ineptitude with proceedings taking the air of pantomime. The Wanderers best chance came on 75 minutes when Donnelly`s free-kick was met by Benyon and his flick header from inside the six-yard box was tipped over the bar by Steer.
Matt Bloomfield came off the bench a minute later for the lacklustre Lewis and he soon put in a sublime cross which saw no-one attack the ball. Substitute Gavin Massey twice missed chances to seal the victory for the home side late-on, firstly being denied by Bull after making a mug of the clumsy James Tunnicliffe and then turning Donnelly inside-out before shooting inches wide of the far post.
It didn’t matter as the Wanderers could have been there until midnight and they still wouldn’t have scored. Waddock spent most of the game stood in his technical area looking like a doctor standing over an ill patient.
A supporter described the performance as “demoralising” and you suspect the manager feels much the same. Whether he has the ability or the tools at his disposal remains to be seen but you can`t help but feeling some surgery will be needed.
Line-up & ratings
Bull (5), Foster (5), Sandell (4), Johnson (7*), Tunnicliffe (5), Lewis (5) (Bloomfield (5)), Donnelly (4), Betsy (5) (Harris (5)), Grant (6), Strevens (4) (Rendell (4)), Benyon (4)