Date:Saturday November 14 2009
Wycombe Wanderers were humbled by Huddersfield Town at the Galpharm Stadium this afternoon.
The whippet-like athleticism of the home side contrasted vividly with the sloth-like performance of the Chairboys and the final score of 6-0 could very easily have been a lot worse.
New owner Steve Hayes gained control of Wycombe Wanderers this summer after threatening the club with administration and persuading enough supporters to believe in his vision of Championship football for the Chairboys.
'We're not just here to make up the numbers,' said Hayes following last season's promotion to League One, and since then he's pressed forward with his controversial plans to relocate the Chairboys to a new 20,000 capacity stadium, which he insists is only matching the ambition he has for the club on the field of play.
With the manner of today's humiliating defeat clearly demonstrating just how far Wycombe actually are from having a team capable of surviving at this level never mind competing at the top of the table, it will be interesting to see how Hayes reacts.
Those who didn't support his takeover in June, will expect no serious investment in the team, mainly because they don't believe that his intentions for the football club are quite what he says they are.
It's the Hayes supporters, those who have swallowed every morsel of his 'Championship dream,' who will begin to feel they were hoodwinked if Hayes doesn't now dig deep and back his new manager Gary Waddock in the transfer market before the Chairboys make a rapid and inglorious return to the basement of English football.
The game itself was even more tortuous to watch than many had feared, although one look at the pace-free defensive line-up before kick-off should have given us a clue.
Waddock made five changes to the side that drew 4-4 with Brighton on Saturday and the Chairboys lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows:
Hunt Duberry Oliver Westwood
Betsy Davies Doherty Bloomfield
Subs: Shearer Mousinho Green Beavon Zebroski Phillips Pittman
Weathering an early Huddersfield storm, Wycombe managed to survive the first 20 minutes without conceding and even won a succession of corners to raise false hope that the game might not be the mismatch many had predicted.
Matt Harrold actually had two chances to score the opening goal when set-pieces from Scott Davies found the big target-man in dangerous positions, but neither of Harrold's headers troubled the Terriers' keeper Alex Smithies.
Up until this point, Harrold had been more concerned with bailing out his static central defenders, jumping higher than anyone on several occasions to head the ball clear of danger.
The Terriers scored their first goal from a - - - wait for it - - - set-piece, when their captain Peter Clarke appeared to be the only one who actually jumped to meet a Gary Roberts free kick, powerfully glancing the ball over the outstretched hands of Wycombe keeper Jamie Young, who probably should have done better.
Kevin Betsy then intercepted a goal-bound shot after Jamie Young had been rounded by Michael Collins following a swift Huddersfield attack which had carved the Wycombe defence apart, and shortly afterwards Young himself was the hero when he stopped a Jordan Rhodes header from point blank range with the defence again missing in action.
Another swift breakaway resulted in the second goal with Roberts having the simple task of side-footing the ball home after good work from Collins and Pilkington.
Things looked even bleaker when Wycombe's new loan-signing John Akinde was injured and had to be replaced after only 37 minutes, with Jon-Paul Pittman taking his place.
Another Terriers' set-piece almost resulted in the third goal, with Clarke again out-jumping the defence and powering a header against the underside of the crossbar and onto the Wycombe goal-line.
As the first half came to an end, Wycombe had their best chance of the game when Luke Oliver failed to turn the ball into the net from close range after Smithies had saved well but failed to hold a Harrold header from another Scott Davies corner. Oliver did however make amends seconds later when he cleared another goal-bound shot after an exposed Jamie Young was again rounded by the Terriers following a lightning breakaway.
If I listed all the Huddersfield attempts on goal during the second half, I'd be here all day, so in précis:
Poor defending from Michael Duberry allowed Collins to weave into the box and lay the ball off to the unmarked Pilkington for the third goal after 48 minutes.
Collins then rose unchallenged to power a header against the Wycombe post and Young made another great save from Robinson as the Terriers surged forward at will.
The fourth goal came from another set-piece with Terriers' defender Peter Clarke scoring his second of the game when he followed up and forced the ball home after his initial header was blocked.
Two minutes later Robinson missed a glorious opportunity to make it five when he directed his close range shot wide of the post with only Young to beat.
Lewis Hunt blocked what looked like a certain goal from Robinson after the Huddersfield striker had again left Michael Duberry for dead.
Tommy Doherty was next to save the day with a timely interception after Lewis Hunt lost possession in the danger area, and shortly afterwards Young recovered well to make a save after he had failed to spot Robinson lurking behind him and grounded the ball, presenting the striker with a golden opportunity.
Michael Duberry rounded off a performance he'll want to forget by scoring an own-goal after 81 minutes, when under pressure from Robinson, he poked a low cross into the net to make it five for the Terriers.
Duberry was then deemed to have tripped Roberts in the box and Robinson finally got his name on the score sheet by slotting home the penalty.
Another last-ditch tackle from Lewis Hunt prevented the Terriers from making it seven and to everyone's relief the referee ended the game and put the Chairboys out of their misery.
It's difficult to find any positives, but if today's performance means something is finally done to revitalise Wycombe's creaking back-four, it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Because one thing seems abundantly clear, without an injection of pace and maneuverability into their defence, Wycombe will continue to leak goals at this level.
Wycombe Man of the Match
Date:Saturday November 14 2009
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