Poor first-half performance sinks Wycombe
An abysmal first half performance was enough to ensure that Wycombe Wanderers lost again at Adams Park this afternoon.
The Chairboys lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows.
Moncur Duberry Oliver Woodman
Zebroski Pack Mousinho(45) Green
Subs: Young Johnson Hunt Westlake Betsy(45) Phillips(45) Pittman(45)
The first half resembled an attack-against-defence training ground exercise, with an overcautious Wycombe side, devoid of either pace or invention, seemingly content to sit back and invite pressure from the opposition.
Despite hinting that he would field the same team as last week, Peter Taylor couldn't resist bringing back Matt Harrold in place of Jon-Paul Pittman.
Predictably, this resulted in Wycombe making no attempt to play a passing game through midfield, instead resorting to long-balls in the direction of Harrold which almost inevitably led to the opposition instantly regaining possession.
The midfield was dire. With Green totally anonymous on the left, Zebroski running down blind alleys on the right and the Pack-Mousinho partnership playing as auxiliary defenders, the unfamiliar pairing of Harrold and Beavon had a thankless task up-front.
Looking embarrassingly like a team that had never played together before, the Chairboys were soon forced to do the only thing they could - defend for their lives.
Not a wise move when your defensive record is as bad as Wycombe's, but surprisingly it wasn't a set-piece that undid them this week. I say surprisingly, because I've never seen so many corners conceded at Adams Park in one half of football before.
Corner after corner rained into the Wycombe box and although the home side didn't concede from one, it was mainly down to poor finishing by the opposition and one particularly good save from keeper Scott Shearer who reacted brilliantly to push away Darren Powell's powerful close-range header.
The Scot made another good save from Jason Puncheon shortly afterwards, but you felt a goal was coming and sure enough, Mattias Doumbe scored it for the visitors just before half time.
Yet again, it was a very disappointing goal to concede.
Right-back Doumbe picked the ball up fifty yards out, and as he ambled unchallenged towards the Wycombe box, everyone backed off and allowed him to pick his spot from the edge of the area, curling his low shot just inside Shearer's post for the only goal of the game.
At the start of the second-half manager Peter Taylor threw caution to the wind for once and introduced Pittman, Betsy and Phillips for Mousinho, Harrold and Beavon.
Zebroski moved up-front to play alongside Pittman, Betsy played on the right, Phillips on the left, and Green moved into central midfield alongside Pack.
It made an immediate difference and Wycombe actually began to give the opposition a game.
Zebroski looked much sharper in his new role, while the pace and trickery of Pittman, Betsy and Phillips was clearly rattling the opposition defence.
The Blues were harrying their opponents now, closing them down quickly and looking to push forward at every opportunity.
Even Stuart Green, who seems averse to tackling and had wandered round like a headless chicken in the first-half, got himself involved and tried a shot from distance.
The impressive Kevin Betsy was making things happen on the right-flank and when he released Zebroski into the box only a last-ditch tackle from David McCracken saved the visitors.
The next opportunity fell to Matt Phillips but the youngster opted to take one touch too many when he should have shot. A common problem for Wycombe.
Pittman tried an acrobatic lob which wasn't quite enough to beat keeper Willy Gueret, but it was undoubtedly Wycombe on the front-foot now and it was surreal to see the opposition resort to blatant time-wasting tactics after their total dominance of the first-half.
The best chance of an equaliser fell to Stuart Green after 82 minutes, but it wasn't to be, and the midfielder fluffed his shot after being set-up by great work from Chris Zebroski.
One can only hope that Peter Taylor reflects on today's game of starkly contrasting halves and decides to be a little more adventurous in future.
In the second half when we actually gave the opposition something to think about, they stopped hammering us.
We've got the attacking flair to compete in this division, but if we leave most of it on the bench every week in favour of grinding out results, we look like going straight back down to League Two.
Man Of The Match
With honourable mentions to Betsy, Zebroski & Pittman in the second half.