Date:Sunday December 7 2008
Wycombe Wanderers lost their first League game of the season after going down 3-2 to Aldershot Town at the Recreation Ground.
Manager Peter Taylor made just one change from the side which defeated Macclesfield Town on Tuesday. Mike Williamson was recalled to the side and Leon Johnson, who hasn't put a foot wrong all season and has two goals to his name, must consider himself unfortunate to have been selected as the central defender to make way.
The team lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows:
Hunt Williamson McCracken Woodman
Moussa Holt Doherty Spence
Subs: Young Johnson Bloomfield Phillips Harrold
It was The Chairboys' poor first half performance which ultimately cost them this game.
The 4-4-2 formation may have worked well against Macclesfield on Tuesday, but in the first half of this match it didn't. Doherty and Holt found themselves outnumbered in central midfield and they were soon being run-ragged by the energetic Shots.
The home side began the game playing good football with pace and precision. In scenes reminiscent of the Eastwood cup tie, the Blues were being quickly closed down and finding themselves second to every loose ball.
It was no surprise when Aldershot opened the scoring in the 11th minute. Anthony Straker took the ball past Wycombe right-back Lewis Hunt before reaching the byline and cutting back an inch perfect pass for Kirk Hudson to clip the ball home. There was a brief glimmer of hope when the linesman raised his flag, but referee Woolmer soon put paid to that by over-ruling his assistant and awarding the goal.
The Shots continued to dominate and a second goal for them seemed inevitable.
Ironically, it was one of Wycombe's rare first-half forays upfield which led directly to Aldershot increasing their lead. Craig Woodman was the culprit. A neat move ended with the left-back receiving the ball near the Shots corner flag. With his team-mates piled forward anticipating his ball into the box, Woodman's atrocious cross went behind them all, losing possession and setting up Aldershot for a counter-attack. The ball was quickly passed to Hudson in acres of space on the undefended right-flank and he fired in his second goal of the game from just inside the box. Scott Shearer in the Wycombe goal didn't get down quickly enough and the ball went under his body on it's way to the net. The Blues were two goals down after only 29 minutes.
The away support of over 800 tried to lift their team, but there was an undercurrent of disbelief that Wycombe were being so easily brushed aside by the Shots.
The second half was a different matter. Matt Harrold came on at half time in place of Franck Moussa and Wycombe reverted to their more familiar 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 formation with Vieira on the right and Balanta on the left. With a central midfield trio of Holt, Doherty and Spence, the Blues finally began to take control of the game.
The Shots seemed content to protect their two goal lead and rely on pacy counter-attacking to keep Wycombe on their toes. The tricky Marvin Morgan was now their main forward threat, and the powerful number-10 was proving himself to be a real handful for the Blues' defence.
The Chairboys kept probing for an opening and Lewwis Spence had a shot saved in the 53rd minute, but it was Magno Vieira who had Wycombe's first real chance to score 5 minutes later. A clever through-ball put him one on one with shots' keeper Nikki Bull, but Vieira couldn't make it count and the ball was turned out for a corner.
Wycombe's second-half formation resulted in Angelo Balanta seeing more of the ball and he was beginning to torment the Shots as he ran at their defence from his favoured position on the left flank.
After 66 minutes, Peter Taylor sent on Matty Phillips and Matt Bloomfield for Gary Holt and Magno Vieira as Wycombe continued to push for a first goal.
In the 74th minute Wycombe were back in the game. A Phillips' cross from the right found it's way to Balanta on the other side of the box and the youngster smashed it into the top corner before Shots' keeper Bull could react.
Spence had another couple of efforts on goal as the Blues pushed forward in search of an equaliser, but it was a breakaway goal from Aldershot in the 88th minute which settled the game. The swift counter-attack saw three Shots players sprinting forward with only two Wycombe defenders to stop them. The ball was squared to Daniel Hylton on the edge of the box and he picked his spot, curling the ball past keeper Shearer.
Wycombe got a late consolation when Matty Phillips' shot was deflected over Shots' keeper Bull in the 2nd minute of added time, but when the final whistle went the superb unbeaten run was over.
It's been a dream start and the Wycombe fans should be proud of their team. Supporters of all League Two clubs will now be watching with interest to see how the Blues react to their first setback of the campaign.
Over the course of the full 90 minutes Aldershot deserved their win. When they were swarming all over Wycombe in the first half they looked like promotion contenders. It's difficult to understand how they have such a terrible away record.
The Chairboys simply left themselves with too much to do after their below-par first half display. The second-half performance was much better and it was nice to see them at least go down fighting.
All five members of the Blues defence looked suspect at one time or another during today's game. The pick of the midfield was Doherty, but even he couldn't stop the first half onslaught from the Shots. Up front Vieira tried hard but Harrold's presence in the second half was far more effective.
Man Of the Match
Date:Sunday December 7 2008
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