Wycombe Suffer Bank Holiday Blues At Exeter
Wycombe Wanderers had their automatic promotion hopes dented this afternoon when they lost 1-0 to rivals Exeter City at St James Park. As a result, the Chairboys drop to 3rd in the table, with today's opponents taking over 2nd spot.
Manager Peter Taylor made two changes to the team that beat Gillingham on Saturday, with Gary Holt and Matt Phillips coming in for Matt Bloomfield and Matt Harrold.
The Chairboys lined up in a 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 formation as follows:
Hunt McCracken Sinclair Woodman
Zebroski(34) Sawyer(68) Doherty(81) Holt Phillips
Subs: Jones Oliver(81) Bloomfield Pittman(34) Beavon(68)
Wycombe were the better side for the opening half-hour of this match, but by the time the game was over there was no denying that Exeter deserved their victory.
The Blues' bright start saw Exeter keeper Paul Jones forced into a double save as early as the 2nd minute in order to keep out a shot from John Akinde.
The Grecians were playing in front of their biggest home-crowd of the season this afternoon and that fact coupled with the importance of the game seemed to be playing on their nerves during the opening exchanges.
Scenting blood, the visitors continued to push forward, with their five-man midfield ensuring they enjoyed the lion's share of the early possession.
Chris Zebroski was looking lively in attack and twice forced saves from Exeter keeper Jones as Wycombe tried to make the breakthrough.
One of Zebroski's shots was only parried as far as Matt Phillips whose rasping drive just cleared the crossbar.
The home side didn't have their first attempt on goal until the half-hour mark, when a long-range effort from Matthew Gill was comfortably gathered by Wycombe keeper Jamie Young.
It was a different matter a few minutes later though, when Young had to save sharply from the jet-heeled Stuart Fleetwood who had raced onto a long ball and fired in a fierce shot.
The burst of activity seemed to wake the home side up and they put Wycombe under pressure until half-time, almost opening the scoring when Steve Basham's header came back of the crossbar with Jamie Young beaten.
The game was over for Zebroski when he pulled-up sharply with what looked like a hamstring problem and was replaced by Jon-Paul Pittman shortly before half-time.
During the interval, the Wycombe fans could reflect on a good first-half performance which promised the possibility of at least a point if their team continued to play in the same vein as before.
Unfortunately it didn't pan out that way and Exeter, who were now playing with three forwards, dominated the second-half, scoring one goal and peppering Jamie Young's goal on several more occasions.
McAllister took a shot at goal and Fleetwood hit the crossbar, before Gill finally opened the scoring for Exeter after 64 minutes.
Ryan Harley's cross from the left cleared the Wycombe defence and dropped to Gill on the right of the Wycombe goal. It was a tight angle, but Gill's first-time shot arrowed into the corner of the net to send the home crowd wild.
Exeter pressed for a second goal and Young saved brilliantly from Harley, before McAllister headed the resulting corner against the crossbar.
The rebound fell to Rob Edwards and his 25 yard rocket-shot was again turned to safety by the diving Wycombe keeper.
It hadn't all been Exeter though. John Akinde had seen a header cleared off the line, Lee Sawyer had a shot deflected for a corner and JP Pittman had fired in a shot which Exeter keeper Jones did well to turn round the post.
Stuart Beavon replaced the impressive Lee Sawyer after 68 minutes and then with 10 minutes to go Peter Taylor brought on giant defender Luke Oliver to play up front, with midfielder Tommy Doherty sacrificed.
It might have seemed a strange substitution, but Oliver did what was asked of him, winning several headers and flicking them into the danger area as Wycombe began to play the long ball in search of an equaliser.
It wasn't to be though, and when the final whistle went, the West Country crowd celebrated a win which they deserved on the strength of their second-half performance.
Exeter manager Paul Tisdale must take credit for changing his side's formation at half-time, it certainly worked in their favour.
Wycombe played well during the first-half but wilted badly after the break and their second-half performance was disappointing given what was at stake.
Another good performance. Runs with the ball and looks to go forward.
Wycombe Man Of The Match
Two great saves. Goal-difference may yet be crucial.