Another Stalemate For Shot-Shy Wycombe
Long-time leaders of League Two, Wycombe Wanderers find themselves down in third place this evening after a second successive goalless draw, this time against Morecambe at Christie Park.
Scoring goals has been Wycombe's problem for a while now and today's performance did little to suggest that a cure will be found soon.
If your midfield doesn't create goal-scoring chances for your forwards, you'd better hope they at least push up-field and score a few themselves. Sadly for Wycombe, their midfielders aren't creating and they aren't scoring either.
With a central midfield of Gary Holt and Tommy Doherty who are content to sit in front of their defence, if Wycombe are to achieve promotion this season it will be by virtue of their defensive record and not their attacking flair. At no point today did the Chairboys look like scoring but luckily for them Morecambe weren't much better.
Manager Peter Taylor made two changes from the side which drew 0-0 with Rotherham on Monday evening, with Stuart Beavon and Lewwis Spence coming into the team in place of Jon-Paul Pittman and Matt Bloomfield.
Wycombe lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows:
Casement McCracken Johnson Woodman
Phillips(68) Holt Doherty Spence(89)
Subs: Shearer Oliver Mousinho(82) Ashton(89) Pittman(68)
The first half could best be described as a cure for insomnia. The only shot on target either side could manage during the first forty-five minutes came from Wycombe's Matt Harrold and even that was adjudged to be offside.
Morecambe started brightly and their first attempt came after only four minutes but O'Carroll's scuffed effort wasn't on target and his poor execution was a sign of things to come from both teams.
Craig Woodman was next to miss when his 20 yard effort in the 10th minute sailed harmlessly past the post.
Most of the possession was Morecambe's but Wycombe had the next attempt on goal in the 18th minute and Matty Phillips was the culprit this time, squandering a decent opportunity by shooting wide from 12 yards out.
Morecambe's Stuart Drummond introduced a little quality into the game on the half hour mark when his clever chip from the edge of the box only just cleared the crossbar and landed on the roof of the net.
Further abysmal shots from O'Carroll and Wainwright ensured that the visitors' goal stayed intact before Wycombe put together their best move of the half after 40 minutes.
Stuart Beavon took possession and dragged a couple of defenders with him before laying the ball off beautifully to Matty Phillips. It was crying out for a first-time shot but instead Phillips crossed it into Matt Harrold who was in an offside position. Harrold got a touch on the ball and forced a save from Morecambe keeper Roche but the flag was already up anyway.
On the stroke of half time Matty Phillips ballooned the ball over the bar from 20 yards and shortly afterwards the referee blew his whistle to end a poor 45 minutes of football.
The Second half wasn't much better.
Morecambe's Wayne Curtis had a shot blocked after 48 minutes but that was it for either side until Gary Hunter shot wide of the Wycombe goal after 62 minutes.
Neither side was exhibiting any quality but at least the home team were prepared to have a go and O'Carroll had another shot blocked 4 minutes later.
It was the same player who brought a fine save out of Wycombe keeper Jamie Young after 67 minutes when his fierce shot from 25 yards was on it's way in until the Aussie dived to tip it round the post.
From the resulting corner Michael Twiss rose to head the ball over the crossbar.
The Chairboys had offered nothing going forward up to this point and manager Peter Taylor decided to shake things up a bit by bringing on Jon-Paul Pittman. Surprisingly, it was again Matty Phillips who made way. Phillips may not be able to shoot straight but he was the only one of the midfield-four who had posed any kind of attacking threat and the disappointing Lewwis Spence seemed a more likely candidate to come off.
As it was, width was sacrificed and Pittman went to play up-front alongside Harrold with Beavon tucking in behind in a midfield diamond.
Morecambe's O'Carroll broke up the monotony with another half-hearted effort after 75 minutes before Wayne Curtis slashed wildly off-target 3 minutes later.
After 82 minutes John Mousinho replaced new boy Stuart Beavon who had looked lively for Wycombe but received little service and didn't get a sniff at goal all game.
The home side had another hopeful punt from distance with 7 minutes remaining but Hunter's effort was miles off target.
With only a minute of normal time remaining Spence finally departed to be replaced by Nathan Ashton.
Neither side deserved anything from this awful game but both had one last chance to commit daylight robbery.
Morecambe's Mark Duffy had a shot from the edge of the area in the first minute of stoppage time and Wycombe were relieved to see it fly past the post.
Then a mix up in the last minute left Morecambe keeper Roche out of position and a better pass from Wycombe's Tommy Doherty might have given his team-mate Jon-Paul Pittman the chance to win the game.
When the referee blew for full-time I couldn't recall one effort on goal from Wycombe in the entire second half.
The defence should be congratulated for keeping their third clean sheet in a row and the forwards should be pitied for the lack of service they received.
As always, the central midfield duo helped the defence out but contributed little going forward. They haven't scored one goal between them all season and on today's evidence that's not going to change anytime soon.
So, as usual, it was down to the wide players to create the chances or perhaps score a goal themselves. On one side there was Lewwis Spence who was presumably given yet another opportunity in the team because he's one of the few Wycombe players who can actually shoot. Unfortunately, Spence yet again failed to make the most of his chance. He was almost anonymous, what he did do was ineffective and he appeared off the pace both in thought and movement.
On the other flank, Matty Phillips continues to impress and infuriate in equal part. He was the only midfielder who looked likely to create a chance today but his shooting was dire again.
The fact that Peter Taylor didn't see fit to improve his midfield creativity during the January transfer window tends to suggest that Wycombe's promotion hopes will stand or fall on their current style of play. But relying on clean sheets and hoping something will break for you at the other end can only take a team so far.
Whether it will be good enough to keep Wycombe in the top three is anybody's guess.
Wycombe Men of The Match
David McCracken & Leon Johnson