Unbeaten Wycombe Too Good For Bradford
Wycombe Wanderers made it fifteen league games unbeaten after an excellent second half performance saw them defeat promotion rivals Bradford City 1-0 at Adams Park.
With midfielder Tommy Doherty still injured and on-loan striker Simon Church out for a month with a broken hand, manager Peter Taylor kept faith with the team that defeated AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup on Monday evening.
Wycombe started the game with a 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 formation as follows:
Hunt Williamson McCracken Woodman
Zebroski Mousinho Holt Spence Phillips
Subs: Young Johnson Moussa Vieira Balanta
The first half was a cagey affair during which neither goalkeeper was called upon to make a save of any note.
Bradford seemed to settle more quickly than Wycombe and began passing the ball about nicely. Omar Daley on the Bradford left-wing looked particularly dangerous and in the early stages of the game he got the better of full-back Lewis Hunt on several occasions, whipping in crosses or forcing corners. From one of these corners Bradford striker Peter Thorne rose well to connect with a header which fortunately for Wycombe missed the target with keeper Shearer beaten. This ultimately proved to be Bradford's best chance of the game.
Matt Harrold cut a lone figure in his target man role, but as he had against Wimbledon, the big centre forward was holding the ball up well despite the close attention of the Bradford defence.
It was Harrold who had Wycombe's only shot worth mentioning in the first half with a low drive from the edge of the box on the half-hour mark, which was comfortably saved by Bradford keeper Evans.
Matty Phillips looked a threat on the left wing, twice beating the full-back only to let himself down a little with his subsequent passes.
John Mousinho had an excellent first half and made a couple of surging runs from midfield, but he seemed reluctant to shoot and was also guilty of wasting his final ball.
On a negative note, Lewwis Spence yet again seemed anonymous in midfield and Chris Zebroski did not have a good opening 45 minutes. Zebroski's running and work rate are admirable, but whereas the ball appeared to stick to Angelo Balanta's feet in the second half, the ball appears to bounce off Zebroski's every time he takes possession. Time and time again in the first period the ball was played out to him in good positions on the right flank only to result in a Bradford throw-in.
When the half time whistle went, anyone who had bet on a goalless draw after 90 minutes would have been quietly confident.
Manager Peter Taylor replaced Spence at half time and gave on-loan forward Angelo Balanta his Wycombe debut.
Balanta played just off striker Matt Harrold as Wycombe adopted a 4-4-2 formation.
The transformation was immediate. Wycombe mounted a sustained period of pressure on Bradford and should have taken the lead long before the goal actually came.
Like all really good players, Balanta appears to have all the time in the world when he's on the ball. His first touch is of a class not normally seen in League Two and despite being clattered to the ground soon after coming on, he was to prove more than a match for the Bantams' defence.
Refreshingly unafraid to shoot, Balanta's first effort was in the 48th minute when he let fly from 20 yards, only to see the ball deflected for a corner.
Soon afterwards, in the 52nd minute, he was involved again in the move which led to Phillips putting in a wonderful cross to the far post. Zebroski does take up good positions and there he was to volley the ball past Bradford keeper Evans, only to see it rebound off the inside of the post and back into the safety of the goalie's arms.
The decisive goal came after 70 minutes. Balanta held possession brilliantly with his back to goal in the Bradford penalty area and as their defence tried to take it off him, the ball was knocked to Lewis Hunt on the right edge of the six yard box. Hunt made no mistake, smashing the ball home to the delight of the home crowd. It was no more than Wycombe deserved after the pressure they had applied since the restart.
Following the goal, Wycombe sat a little too deep for the liking of their nervous fans, almost inviting the Bantams to try their luck, but no matter how hard Bradford tried they never looked like breaching the Football League's meanest defence.
Balanta had another crack at goal in the 88th minute when he unleashed a fierce drive from just outside the box. Evans dived to his left to save it but it was too hot to handle and the keeper had to scramble to gather it at the second time of asking.
When the final whistle went the crowd applauded a victory which was well deserved after Wycombe's second half performance.
Bradford looked a tidy side with plenty of attacking options and it's to the credit of Wycombe's superb defence that they never really looked like scoring today. That's nine clean sheets now in fifteen games and only 6 league goals conceded. It really is a record to be proud of.
If Wycombe's second half performance is anything to go by, they might start scoring a few more goals too.
The Chairboys remain unbeaten in the League and today's was a great result against a promotion rival, which keeps Wycombe in 2nd place in the table, now 4 points ahead of the 3rd placed team and with a game in hand.
Solid as a rock against a prolific strikeforce
He seems to get better every time he plays, superb engine.
Played the target-man role superbly yet again
Man Of The Match
Different class, he changed the game