Wycombe Held By Barnet
Wycombe Wanderers couldn't conjure up a win against Barnet at Adams Park this evening and had to settle for a point after a defensive mix-up allowed Paul Furlong to cancel out John Akinde's opening goal.
It was one of Wycombe's precious games-in-hand and a win could have taken them back to 2nd in the table, but despite the high stakes the Chairboys were disappointing again and have now gone six games without a win.
Manager Peter Taylor made four changes to the team that drew with Shrewsbury on Saturday, with Hunt, Oliver, Zebroski and Pittman coming in for Casement, Antwi, Sawyer and Harrold.
The Chairboys lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows:
Hunt Oliver Sinclair Woodman
Zebroski Mousinho Holt Bloomfield(59)
Subs: Jones Antwi Sawyer(59) Phillips(78) Harrold(72)
The first half took on a familiar pattern with the visitors running the midfield and Wycombe resorting to long balls in the direction of John Akinde and the pacy Jon-Paul Pittman.
The Chairboys only had two notable efforts on goal during the first forty-five minutes and both of those came about through individual pieces of skill rather than any discernable pattern of play from the team as a whole.
The opening goal was scored by Akinde after 18 minutes when he took a pass from Craig Woodman, turned his marker inside-out and calmly slotted the ball home from just inside the penalty area.
Wycombe's only other decent attempt on goal came from Pittman after 44 minutes. Receiving the ball on the left flank, he used his pace and trickery to go past a Barnet defender before firing in a vicious shot which keeper Jake Cole did well to save.
Although the Bees had looked the more accomplished side, their only chances came about as a result of defensive howlers.
When one considers that the Wycombe defence was the envy of every other team in the league during the first half of the season, watching some of their recent performances has been enough to make you weep.
Selling Mike Williamson in January probably seemed like a good idea at the time to the club bean-counters, but watching the team line up tonight with a central defensive partnership featuring Luke Oliver making his first start for the club and veteran Frank Sinclair making only his second appearance, you wished big Mike was still here.
Keeper Jamie Young made the first blunder and was let off the hook after only 9 minutes when his clearance rebounded off a Barnet player's back only for John O'Flynn to squander the goal-scoring opportunity.
Only eight minutes later the Blues had another let-off when Oliver headed the ball out of Young's hands from a Barnet free kick, leading to yet another corner during a period of concerted pressure from the Bees.
Another mix-up between Oliver and Young led to the Wycombe keeper deliberately bringing down Albert Adomah just outside the box after the Barnet winger had stolen the ball and was just about to pull the trigger. Fortunately for Young he wasn't judged to be the last defender and escaped with only a yellow card.
The equalising goal also came from a defensive mistake when Frank Sinclair's indecision allowed Paul Furlong to steal in and score from just inside the box.
It may have been a gift for Barnet but it was no more than they deserved after taking the game to Wycombe throughout most of the first half.
Wycombe had far more of the possession in the second half. Pittman moved closer to the left touchline which allowed three blue shirts to compete with Barnet in central midfield. All of a sudden there were players available for the simple pass and the Chairboys began to show more patience in their build-up.
Matt Bloomfield was replaced by Lee Sawyer after 57 minutes and the youngster made an instant impression when his cheeky backheel found Gary Holt in space just outside the box. Emboldened by his fine goal on Saturday, the normally reticent Holt took a couple of paces forward before curling a shot towards goal which Cole did well to save.
Just after the hour mark, yet another piece of keystone-cops defending almost allowed Adomah to give Barnet the lead but he was eventually crowded out before he could shoot.
Phillips and Harrold were brought on to replace Pittman and Akinde as Wycombe kept probing in search of a winner.
After 80 minutes Barnet nearly did Wycombe's job for them when Gary Breen almost fired past his own keeper after being harried by the hard working Chris Zebroski.
Sawyer was again the provider with just two minutes remaining when he set up Matt Harrold on the edge of the box. Turning and moving along the 18 yard line, Harrold fired in a fierce shot which Cole could only parry. Gary Holt had a half-chance of turning in the rebound but it wasn't to be and Wycombe had to be content with only one point, which is probably all they deserved.
This was a poor game which wasn't helped by a fussy and whistle-happy referee.
The first half was like watching two relegation strugglers battle it out. Wycombe's defence was all over the place and their midfield were being run-ragged yet again. The pressure was all coming from Barnet and this led to the home side playing too deep as they tried to soak it up.
When Wycombe changed shape in the second half, they looked a better, more balanced side.
Wycombe Man Of The Match
His best performance for a while.