Second Half Performance Sees Leeds Beat Wycombe
Wycombe Wanderers were beaten 1-0 by Leeds United at Adams Park this afternoon.
After more than matching the former Premier League side during the first forty-five minutes, a disappointing second half performance from Wycombe saw the visitors take all three points to leave the Chairboys the only side in League One yet to get off the mark.
Manager Peter Taylor opted to start with a 4-5-1 formation and the home side lined up as follows:
Smith (77) Duberry Oliver Woodman
Zebroski Mousinho Montrose Westlake (62) Phillips
Subs: Young Westwood Johnson Green (77) Spiller Pittman (62) Beavon (72)
The first-half performance from Wycombe was everything the home fans could have hoped for. Strong in the tackle and quick to close the opposition down, the Chairboys took the game to Leeds, seemingly undaunted by their illustrious opponents and looking to push forward at every opportunity.
A casual observer could be forgiven for wondering if it was the same eleven players who reappeared after half-time, such was the change in almost every aspect of Wycombe's play.
The energy and urgency were gone as the home side sat back, apparently content to defend on the edge of their box and allow Leeds the time and space they were denied during the first forty-five minutes.
The match duly swung dramatically in Leeds' favour and it was no real surprise when they finally capitalized on the situation with a goal from Luciano Becchio on the hour mark.
During the first-half, the Wycombe central midfield of Montrose, Westlake and Mousinho had comfortably bossed the middle of the park while target-man Matt Harrold and wide-men Phillips and Zebroski had given the Leeds defence plenty to think about.
The two best chances Wycombe created during this period both came from the left-wing where Phillips was belying his tender years with a confident display which had Leeds right-back Jason Crowe clearly rattled.
After 13 minutes, Matt Harrold's lay-off allowed Phillips to escape down the left at pace before feeding Chris Zebroski whose shot was saved by United keeper Shane Higgs.
It was a similar move which led to Wycombe's best chance of the half after 37 minutes. Again Harrold set Phillips on his way down the left and this time the youngster's cross was a beauty which John Mousinho failed to make contact with, when he really should have scored.
Leeds may not have enjoyed as much of the first half as they would have liked, but their strike force of Beckford and Becchio found time to fire a couple of warning shots across the Chairboys bows
After 15 minutes Beckford outmaneuvered his marker Luke Oliver inside the box and fired a shot into the side netting via the post.
The same player should have scored just after the half-hour mark when he received a clever pass from Robert Snodgrass but lashed his shot well wide of the post.
Becchio had also reminded the Wycombe defence he was there with a long-range effort which just cleared keeper Scott Shearer's crossbar.
When Wycombe shrank into their shell at the start of the second half, Leeds quickly took control of the game and Becchio finally punished them with a fine strike from 20 yards.
Taking possession just outside the box, the striker advanced on goal and picked his spot before firing the ball into the corner of the net beyond the despairing dive of Blues' keeper Shearer.
Jon-Paul Pittman was introduced in place of Ian Westlake as the Chairboys changed to 4-4-2 formation, but Leeds continued to press forward.
It was only when Stuart Beavon and Stuart Green had entered the fray in place of Matt Harrold and Adam Smith, that the tide began to turn back in Wycombe's favour.
With Pittman, Beavon, Zebroski, Phillips and Green all playing at the same time, the Chairboys had gone from one extreme to the other, and now had more attacking options on the field than we're accustomed to seeing at Adams Park.
Beavon immediately took the mantle of link-man, spreading passes around as he tried to bring the others into play. And when he found Stuart Green in space with just two minutes to go, only a fine save from Leeds keeper Higgs and the width of a goalpost prevented Wycombe from levelling the score.
More drama was to come though. Two minutes into stoppage time Pittman stole into the box from the left-wing and cut the ball back across goal only for Beavon to snatch his shot wide of the upright.
Ultimately, it was their cautious approach to the second-half which cost Wycombe the game. Leeds are a good side and if you invite them to attack you, don't be surprised when you lose. By the time manager Peter Taylor threw caution to the wind it was too late to be brave.
The introduction of Pittman and Beavon yet again improved Wycombe's attacking options and helped take pressure off the beleaguered defence, but as at Charlton last week, the damage had already been done.
Although conceding only one goal is a considerable improvement on recent performances, the Chairboys' defence still looked shaky at times today and it's a mystery why the stylish fans' favourite Leon Johnson is now apparently fourth-choice centre-back.
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