Honours Even For Wycombe And Luton
Wycombe Wanderers and Luton Town couldn't be separated in the rain at Adams Park this afternoon after an entertaining match which finished goalless.
Wycombe manager Peter Taylor made 4 changes from the side which lost at Aldershot last week. Angelo Balanta was missing through injury, whilst Lewwis Spence, Franck Moussa and Magno Vieira were all dropped to the bench. Selected to replace them were Matt Harrold, Simon Church, Matt Phillips and Matt Bloomfield.
The Wanderers lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows:
Hunt Williamson McCracken Woodman
Bloomfield Holt Doherty Phillips
Subs: Young Johnson Moussa Spence Vieira
Wycombe may be top of the league, but that doesn't mean opposition teams are frightened of them and Luton certainly weren't. Playing an ambitious 4-3-3 formation, the Hatters were no respecters of reputation as they set about the task of further reducing their points deficit.
The relentless rain made conditions treacherous underfoot and both teams had to be careful with their passing as surface water was slowing the ball down.
The first half was an evenly matched affair. Wycombe had the bulk of the possession but Luton looked dangerous going forward and always attacked quickly and in numbers.
The Blues' best chance came after 30 minutes when a period of sustained pressure led to a goalmouth scramble. Both Church and Harrold were close to forcing the ball home before the Hatters' defence emerged on top and finally cleared the danger.
Wayne Andrews came closest to opening the scoring for Luton in the 40th minute. The ball dropped to him outside the Wycombe box and his well executed snap-shot had keeper Shearer beaten as it whistled just past the post.
Luton began the second half well. Wycombe were being pinned back as the Hatters repeatedly surged forward. Their fans were singing 'we're going to score in a minute' and it looked like they might be right.
After 55 minutes they nearly got that opening goal. Veteran striker Kevin Gallen was a thorn in Wycombe's side all game and his close-range header looked to be heading into the net until Wycombe keeper Scott Shearer's reflex dive pushed the ball to safety.
Wycombe weathered the storm and began to impose themselves on the game.
Matt Bloomfield nearly became the returning hero when his 60th minute header just cleared the crossbar.
Two free kicks from good positions around the box came to nothing as Doherty's efforts failed to seriously trouble Luton keeper Logan.
Luton still looked dangerous and Andrews again caused consternation in the Wycombe defence when his excellent cross flashed across the six yard box with no-one able to apply the finishing touch.
After 73 minutes Vieira and Spence replaced Church and Bloomfield. Spence's introduction added nothing to the performance but Vieira's speed and determination gave the Luton defence food for thought on a few occasions. With five minutes remaining Franck Moussa replaced Matt Phillips.
The full time whistle blew with honours even and that was the fair result.
Wycombe lacked sparkle today. The magic of Balanta or even the raw pace of Zebroski might have made all the difference to a very one-dimensional performance. In truth we rarely troubled a Luton defence which was already under-strength due to injuries.
One good thing to come out of the game was the performance of Matt Harrold. Not only did he win almost every header he contested, he was comfortable receiving the ball on the ground and showed hitherto unseen aspects of his game. He's not just a target-man, he can play football and a superb 40 yard cross-field pass to Matt Phillips in the first half was a pleasure to behold.
With Shrewsbury, Bradford and Darlington all losing today, a draw for Wycombe wasn't such a bad result after all.
Despite Christmas shopping and the credit crunch, le's hope we take a large following to Shrewsbury next Saturday. We owe them one.
More effective than Doherty today. You got the feeling he relished the weather.
Man Of The Match
Getting better all the time.