Match Report : Wycombe Hit Top Spot
Wycombe fans are smiling tonight as the Chairboys have risen to the top of League Two for the first time in almost exactly two years. A hard fought 1-0 away win at Rochdale was enough to leapfrog Dagenham, Shrewsbury and Bury to take the top spot, one point ahead of Bradford.
The Wanderers have now won all three away games played this season and have done so without conceding a goal. This is the first time in Wycombe's Football League history that they have started with three consecutive away wins.
Overall the Blues have 13 points out of a possible 15, thanks to four wins and a draw in the five League matches played so far. They have scored six goals and only conceded one. The six goals scored have come from six different players, suggesting that Wycombe are now dangerous from all parts of the team. This is in stark contrast to last season, when almost half of Wycombe's goal tally came from one player, Scott McGleish.
Many Wanderers fans were happy to see width and pace introduced into the side this season, with manager Peter Taylor bringing in athletic new signings Gavin Grant and Chris Zebroski amongst others. However, there was a worry that having a more attacking midfield set-up, might be to the detriment of last season's excellent defensive strengths. This fear was compounded by some poor defensive displays in pre-season. Happily, these fears appear to be groundless. Having young, hungry and energetic players such as Spence, Grant and Zebroski in the side, coupled with the strong work ethic Taylor has instilled, means every ball is chased, opposition players are closed down quickly and yet the threat of a Wycombe breakaway is always on the opposition's mind.
Today's game at Rochdale was similar in many ways to last week's win at Chesterfield. It was essentially a superb defensive display aimed at protecting a slender lead, whilst always looking for a quick breakaway should the opportunity arise.
Wycombe, playing in a 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 formation started the brighter and for the first ten minutes pressed the home side, forcing four corners, with last week's scorer Mike Williamson causing concern for the home defence as he tried capitalize in the air. Rochdale came back strongly and put Wycombe under the cosh during a prolonged period of dangerous home pressure. Scott Shearer saved well from an Adam Le Fondre shot in the 22nd minute, with Leon Johnson blocking another effort from the same player a minute later. The Dale should have taken the lead in the 27th minute when Chris Dagnall inexplicably put the ball wide.
The 30th minute saw the injured Tommy Doherty substituted with new signing Matt Harrold coming on to make his debut. Within seconds Wycombe took the lead. A Lewwis Spence corner was met by Mike Williamson, whose downward header came off the legs of the home keeper and was forced into the net by Chris Zebroski.
The substitution of Doherty saw Wycombe change to a 4-4-2 formation, with Harrold joining McGleish up front, Zebroski moving to the left wing and Spence coming into the centre of midfield. This system saw the blues come more into the game and they comfortably saw out the first half.
The second half consisted of Rochdale trying to break Wycombe down, without really creating anything of note. In the 72nd minute Simon Church replaced a tired looking McGleish, who had worked his socks off for the cause in his usual fashion. The Chairboys saw the game out defending gallantly to protect their lead as they had done at Chesterfield last week.
New signing Matt Harrold showed enough, both in the air and on the floor, to suggest that he may be the target man Wycombe were looking for.
Two home games in a row now await the Chairboys. First up are sixth placed Brentford, followed by fourth placed Dagenham, both these clubs are currently only three points behind Wycombe. Let's hope gates improve and the fans turn out to give the team the backing their excellent start to the season deserves.
Special Mention :
As solid and reliable as ever, last season's supporters' player of the season is carrying on where he left off last term.
Man Of The Match
Flawless in defence and dangerous at set pieces, he's back to his best. Mike takes the honours for the second game in a row..