Wycombe Lose at Bradford
Wycombe Wanderers lost 1-0 to Bradford City at Valley Parade this afternoon.
The result means Wycombe remain 2nd in League Two, three points behind leaders Brentford. However, with all the other teams in the top 8 winning today, the promotion-chasing pack is becoming bunched and the Chairboys are now only four points clear of 7th place.
Manager Peter Taylor made two changes from the side which played in Wycombe's previous game against Accrington Stanley at the end of January. Jon-Paul Pittman made his debut in place of the departed Angelo Balanta and Matt Bloomfield was reinstated at the expense of Matt Phillips.
The Chairboys lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows:
Casement(66) McCracken Johnson Woodman
Zebroski Holt (66) Doherty Bloomfield(85)
Subs: Young Oliver(66) Mousinho(66) Phillips(85) Vieira
The hard facts are that Wycombe have lost three of their last five games and have been dragged back into the promotion pack after seeing a comfortable nine point lead at the top of the table vanish altogether. Everyone suspected a setback would come at some point but if results don't pick up again soon, there is the danger of an all too familiar Chairboys' post-Christmas collapse
Happier news for Chairboys' fans is that this was one of Wycombe's best away performances of the season and if they had only converted a fraction of the chances they made, they would have been travelling back down South with at least a draw to show for their efforts.
So many times this season Wycombe have won points despite giving distinctly average performances, but today when they really deserved something from the game, they came away with nothing.
Another crumb of comfort for Chairboys' fans was the performance of debutante Jon-Paul Pittman who looked sharp and skillful and certainly not out of his depth following his transfer from non-league Crawley Town.
Bradford started well and had the best of the opening 25 minutes, with Thorne, Daley and Laws all testing Wycombe's defences.
Despite the early pressure they were under, the Chairboys came closest to opening the scoring in the 14th minute. Pittman isn't the tallest of players but it was his header from a corner which was cleared off the line with Bradford keeper Rhys Evans beaten.
After 23 minutes Pittman was blatantly fouled on the edge of the box and with the visiting fans hoping the infringement would be judged a penalty, referee Carl Boyeson amazed everyone by not even giving a free kick.
Bradford's approach to the game became more cautious as Wycombe began to apply pressure of their own and the noisy home crowd became noticeably quieter.
On the half-hour mark Matt Bloomfield should have given Wycombe the lead. More good work from Pittman resulted in his cross being deflected into Bloomfield's path only 8 yards out, but with the goal gaping, the Wycombe midfielder didn't even hit the target.
Five minutes later Bloomfield tried to make amends with a shot which was well saved by Evans.
It was all Wycombe now and Pittman was at the centre of the action. Firstly he had a shot turned for a corner and then a few minutes later he executed an overhead kick which only just went wide of the post.
Then with only a minute to go to half time and totally against the run of play, Bradford scored the only goal of the game. Tommy Doherty gave the ball away cheaply but it was a well-worked breakaway goal from the home side culminating in O'Brien's cross being touched on by Thorne before Steve Jones applied the finishing touch by crashing his shot high into the net.
The second half saw Wycombe continue to create goalscoring opportunities for themselves. Within the first ten minutes after the restart Zebroski had skied a half-chance and Holt had seen a shot turned for a corner.
Bloomfield was again the villain after the hour-mark when he squandered another great scoring opportunity. A speedy Pittman breakaway and cross was missed by Matt Harrold but fell nicely for Bloomfield who again failed to even hit the target from 12 yards out.
After 65 minutes, Peter Taylor replaced Gary Holt and Chris Casement with John Mousinho and Luke Oliver.
Five minutes later Mousinho should have done better after he received the ball in the box but wanted too much time before shooting.
Bradford were creating chances as well and Boulding should have done better after 75 minutes when he ballooned his shot over the bar.
No-one had even been booked yet in what had been an entertaining and clean game, but that all changed in the space of two minutes.
Firstly Leon Johnson was booked after 76 minutes and then Chris Zebroski was sent off following a stupid challenge on Matt Clarke. Zebroski will say he was going for the ball, but in doing so he had his boot up at head height and could easily have seriously hurt Clarke. He had to go. No sooner had play restarted when Tommy Doherty added another yellow card to his collection.
Matt Bloomfield had a good game apart from his woeful finishing and he had one more effort in the 82nd minute when his cross/shot had to be pushed behind for a corner. He was then replaced by Matt Phillips,
Bradford should have made it two in stoppage time when Shearer did well to prevent first Colbeck and then Jones from finding the net.
The full time whistle blew on another defeat and Wycombe could only reflect on their squandered chances.
It was a good game and Bradford fans will no doubt be proud of their team's battling performance and feel they did enough to deserve victory. Wycombe fans however, could just as easily say the same.
New signing Jon-Paul Pittman may help Matt Harrold on the goal-scoring front but it's hard to see where else goals will come from. Earlier in the season players from all parts of the team were finding the net, but the last time a current Wycombe player apart from Matt Harrold scored a goal was 11 games ago when Matty Phillips netted against Aldershot Town on 6th December. The Chairboys' central midfield in particular appear to be toothless in attack and have contributed little all season in the goal-scoring stakes.
David McCracken and Leon Johnson
Neither put a foot wrong today.
Usual classy performance.
Wycombe Man Of The Match
An impressive debut.