Chairboys crash to Tranmere Rovers
Wycombe Wanderers fell behind to another set-piece goal and were unable to force an equaliser, losing 1-0 to fellow strugglers Tranmere Rovers at Adams Park and dropping to 23rd position in League One.
Manager Peter Taylor made one change to the side that drew at Swindon on Saturday, with Matt Phillips coming in for Lewis Montrose as the Chairboys took-up what appeared to be a 4-1-4-1 formation as follows:
Hunt (70) Duberry Oliver Woodman
Zebroski Green (83) Betsy Phillips
Subs: Young Johnson Mousinho Montrose Westlake (83) Chambers (83) Harrold (70)
It all looked quite promising before kick-off.
Manager Peter Taylor had done exactly what supporters had hoped for and picked what appeared to be an attacking line-up containing several players with both pace and guile.
There were a few murmurings of discontent in the crowd, when Stuart Beavon, man-of-the-match against Hartlepool just a few games ago, wasn't even included among the seven substitutes and it was hard to find anyone who understood how Stuart Green had kept his place in the side following his recent performances, but nevertheless the feeling was one of optimism as the game began.
Not long after kick-off it became clear that today's formation involved Jon-Paul Pittman operating alone up-front and Kevin Betsy playing in an unfamiliar quasi central-midfield role, while Chris Zebroski was reinstated on the right flank following his brief appearance as a striker at the weekend.
An early pattern soon emerged.
Tranmere were determined to play a patient passing game and refused to succumb to the temptation of playing the long-ball forward. In fact, they played some nice one-touch football albeit mainly in their own half.
Wycombe were full of energy at the start, closing the opposition down quickly and harrying the man in possession as they tried to unsettle Rovers and grab an early advantage.
For all those early efforts though, Wycombe only had a misdirected header from Matt Phillips to show for it.
Then after 15 minutes the Chairboys gave away their traditional set-piece goal to ensure they had yet another mountain to climb.
On a rare foray into the Wycombe half, Tranmere won three corners in quick succession and when the third one wasn't dealt with effectively, the ball dropped to Ian Thomas-Moore who rifled it high into the net, on the volley and from a tight angle.
You could almost see the Wycombe players wilt at the prospect of chasing yet another game.
The remainder of the first-half saw Tranmere fairly comfortably soak-up the Chairboys efforts to draw level, with the only moments of any note being a poor Betsy header from close range which he should have made count, a couple of blocked shots from Pittman and Green and a fine header from Pittman on the stroke of half-time which Rovers' keeper Luke Daniels did well to push over the crossbar.
The second half produced more of the same.
Wycombe probed at Tranmere with Marlon Pack playing the Tommy Doherty role well and enjoying plenty of possession but often looking frustrated at his lack of options with his team-mates' movement off the ball leaving a lot to be desired.
The Chairboys won plenty of corners and free kicks during the second half but whereas you always feel the opposition are likely to score from these situations, you just know Wycombe won't.
Zebroski, Pittman and Green all had half-hearted efforts on goal which didn't really trouble Daniels, before Matt Phillips tried a difficult long distance volley which he couldn't keep on target.
Meanwhile, Tranmere reminded Wycombe that they were still there with a header from Michael Ricketts which struck the crossbar before being turned out for a dreaded corner.
Matt Harrold came on for Lewis Hunt after 70 minutes, with Kevin Betsy covering the right back position, but the big striker never really made an impression on the game although a fine flick-on to Stuart Green could have produced the equaliser had the midfielder's shot not been so weak.
A couple more scrambles in the box were all Wycombe could muster during the rest of the game and when the final whistle went it was confirmation that the Chairboys would now be propping up the entire division if it weren't for Southampton's ten-point deduction.
We had the players out there to win this game but we didn't have the collective wit to get past a Tranmere side who looked no better than most of the teams we played in League Two last season.
There seems to be very little understanding between the individual players and we clearly don't have a settled side. We seem to play a different formation every week, more often than not with different personnel, particularly in attack, where players are constantly being asked to switch positions and play alongside new partners.
I personally believe that we've got a lot of good players but right now we're certainly not a good team.
Man Of The Match