Wycombe Held By Stubborn Rotherham
Promotion challengers Wycombe Wanderers dropped another two points this evening when they drew 0-0 after failing to break down an unadventurous Rotherham side at Adams Park.
Manager Peter Taylor made one change from the side which beat Dagenham last Tuesday with Matt Phillips coming into the side in place of John Mousinho.
The Chairboys lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows:
Casement(62) McCracken Johnson Woodman
Phillips(62) Doherty Holt Bloomfield(74)
Subs: Shearer Oliver(62) Mousinho Spence(74) Beavon(62)
Wycombe created chances in this game but some woeful shooting combined with good goalkeeping and last-ditch defending from Rotherham ensured the scoresheet remained blank.
For their part, the Millers had a shot on goal after two minutes and didn't trouble the Wycombe keeper again until the 65th minute. They were set up not to concede, didn't really show any ambition, and got exactly what they came for.
The first half began with the usual jostling for supremacy between the two sides and it took ten minutes before Wycombe began to assert themselves on their opponents, getting the ball on the ground and starting to play their passing game. Holt and Doherty were instrumental in taking hold of the game but as is so often the case, there was a big gap between the deep-lying central midfielders and their two front men Harrold and Pittman.
The Chairboys' main attacking threat was coming from the right-flank where Matty Phillips was slowly growing in confidence as he realised that he could take his man on and beat him for pace.
Wycombe's first two goalscoring opportunities of the opening period fell to Matt Bloomfield in the 11th and 18th minute but both times he failed to strike the ball cleanly or even hit the target. It's encouraging that Bloomfield gets into positions to score but it would be nice if at some point this season he actually converted one of them.
Matty Phillips was still causing problems for Rotherham on the right-wing and a jinking run in the 26th minute was halted by what looked a blatant foul in the visitors box. It seemed a clear penalty but the referee waved play on to howls of disbelief from the home crowd.
After half an hour Matt Harrold rose at the far post to meet a Woodman cross and nodded the ball back towards the goal only to be foiled by an excellent save from Rotherham keeper Andy Warrington who palmed the ball clear at full stretch. If only a blue shirt had shown a little anticipation and followed-up they could have had a simple tap-in.
Wycombe were on top now and another Bloomfield effort was deflected for a corner. Or so thought the entire stadium apart from referee Whitestone who further enraged the crowd by awarding a goal kick.
A cleverly worked free kick in the 42nd minute saw the ball played square across the edge of the box to Matty Phillips. Rather than whack it, the youngster tried to sidefoot it into the corner of the net but again the ball failed to hit the target.
Another great chance to open the scoring fell to Phillips in the 42nd minute. Chris Casement's cross from the right dropped for Phillips just inside the box but the youngster hit his shot into the ground and over the crossbar with the goal gaping.
The second half was only five minutes old when Rotherham had another lucky escape. Phillips beat his man and cut in from the by-line before firing over a hard, low cross which a Miller's defender somehow managed to clear over his own bar from only a couple of yards out. On another day it could easily have been an own-goal.
From the resulting corner a Matt Harrold header was cleared off the line by another Rotherham defender.
After 51 minutes Jon-Paul Pittman fired in a bullet header only to see it blocked by his own player Matty Phillips, who couldn't get out of the way quickly enough. By this time you suspected it was going to be one of those days.
Phillips had grown into this game after a hesitant start and it was somewhat surprising to see him substituted in the 62nd minute. He departed along with Chris Casement, with Luke Oliver and Stuart Beavon coming on in their place. Oliver went into central defence with David McCracken moving over to right-back. Debutante Beavon seemed to slot into position just behind the front two.
Two minutes later and Wycombe keeper Jamie Young was called into action when a Drew Broughton header forced the Aussie to dive smartly down to his left to make a goal-line save.
Matt Harrold had another shot blocked after 68 minutes before Peter Taylor made his final substitution of the match with Lewwis Spence replacing Matt Bloomfield.
Young had another save to make in the 76th minute when he dived full length to clutch a fierce shot from Rotherham's Micky Cummins.
New boy Stuart Beavon had looked good since his introduction and it was he who had Wycombe's final two efforts of the match.
Turning and firing in a snap shot from the edge of the box after 80 minutes, Beavon was foiled by Millers' keeper Warrington who dived full length to turn the ball round the post.
Then with only three minutes remaining, Beavon met a Woodman cross with a cheeky header which almost flashed in at the near post.
The final whistle went on a match which Wycombe should have won.
Two clean sheets in a row is good news for the defence and it looks like we have enough firepower up-front now. That just leaves the midfield, which has been chopped and changed all season but still doesn't appear to have the right balance.
As far as the new boys were concerned, Pittman looked good again at times but faded out in the second half, whilst Beavon was only on the pitch for half an hour this evening but almost scored twice from what can only be described as half chances. He can be pleased with his debut.
A couple of good saves and his kicking was better tonight.
Worked like a Trojan
Wycombe Man Of The Match
Provided the only attacking flair from midfield