Bristol City 3 Wycombe Wanderers 1
Wycombe Wanderers were beaten 3-1 by Bristol City at Ashton Gate this afternoon.
The Blues started the match in a 4-4-2 formation as follows:
Westwood Duberry (80) Oliver Woodman (45)
Zebroski (80) Mousinho Montrose (45) Bloomfield (45)
Harrold (45) Beavon (45)
Subs: Young (32) Cort (45) Green (45) Phillips (45) Spiller (45) Cobb (45) Daly (80) Johnson (80)
The Chairboys started the game in fine fashion and the first 15 minutes were played in the Robins' half of the pitch as Peter Taylor's injury-hit side defied the odds with some slick attacking football.
However, when you're on top you really have to score and Wycombe couldn't make the pressure count, despite a long-range effort from Chris Zebroski and a header from the same player which flew narrowly wide of the post.
City gradually began to impose themselves on the game and tested Wycombe keeper Scott Shearer on several occasions with long-range efforts of their own.
A challenge on Shearer after 32 minutes left the big Scot lying flat-out for a considerable time before he was eventually led off the field with an obvious facial injury to be replaced by Jamie Young.
The opening goal was a soft one to concede. Young came for a cross and punched the ball as far as the edge of the penalty area. City's Bradley Orr lobbed it straight back towards the goal, where Luke Oliver would no doubt have headed it off the line had Young not rushed back and helped it into the net while attempting to claw it clear. Not the best example of communication between goalkeeper and defence.
The second half saw Wycombe change shape to a 4-5-1 (4-3-3) formation with trialist Carl Cort the lone target-man.
Fellow trialist Danny Spiller and new boy Stuart Green came on to join John Mousinho in central midfield, with Matt Phillips entering the fray on the left wing.
Chris Zebroski remained on the right flank and it was his tenacious work on 59 minutes which led to Carl Cort bursting into the area and planting a firm, low ball across the face of the goal for Matt Phillips to slide in Wycombe's equaliser.
Deservedly level at this point, the Chairboys could only hang-on for three minutes before more poor defensive work allowed the Robins to retake the lead.
David Clarkson was unmarked in acres of space when Jamie McAllister's cross found him in front of goal, and his bullet header gave Jamie Young no chance.
The goal sparked a period of Bristol City pressure during which Young made amends for his earlier mistake with a series of excellent saves.
Firstly he denied Nicky Maynard with a fine stop, before pulling-off a superb reaction save with his feet after Ivan Sproule's deflected shot had sent him diving the wrong way.
Luke Oliver also made a goalline clearance from Maynard during what was the home side's best spell of the match.
The Blues still looked dangerous on the break with Phillips in particular giving the Robins' defence problems when he ran at them with the ball.
Young was the hero again three minutes from time when he saved John Akinde's weak penalty after John Mousinho had brought down Marvin Elliott.
City weren't to be denied though, and in the last minute Sproule beat the offside trap with ease to make the final score 3-1.
The Robins' third goal gave the scoreline a picture which probably didn't reflect the balance of play but did reflect the difference between the two sides in the final third of the pitch.
Despite having their fair share of possession, Wycombe didn't have much end product to show for it and another low-scoring season may well be on the cards.
Following-on from the sloppy defending which gifted QPR two goals in midweek, two of the goals conceded today will no doubt disappoint manager Peter Taylor. Injuries to key players haven't helped, but at the moment we look a long way from the impenetrable side of early last season.
On a positive note, some of the one-touch passing and movement off the ball during the first 15 minutes were a joy to behold, and the overall performance against quality opposition is to be commended considering the injury problems.
A Few Picks
Luke Oliver, Chris Zebroski and Matt Phillips stood out for me, while as far as the trialist are concerned, Carl Cort was tidy if not dynamic and Danny Spiller showed flashes of quality but looked well off the pace.