Battling Wycombe narrowly beaten
Wycombe Wanderers suffered their third defeat in a row when they lost 1-0 to Norwich City at Adams Park this afternoon.
Gary Waddock made two changes to the side that lost 5-2 to Brighton on Monday with Matt Phillips and Adam Hinshelwood coming in for Stuart Beavon and Luke Oliver as the Chairboys lined up in a 4-5-1 formation as follows:
Hunt Hinshelwood (60) Westwood Woodman
Phillips Mousinho Doherty Davies Betsy
Subs: Young Oliver (60) Green Bloomfield (85) Harris Beavon Harrold (82)
For the first 20 minutes you wouldn't have known that these two sides were at opposite ends of the table as Wycombe came out fighting with Tommy Doherty and John Mousinho both making their presence felt in midfield while the defence comfortably snuffed out any early threat from the visitors.
Sadly the Chairboys were unable to take advantage of this early passage of play with Jon-Paul Pittman firing a half-chance high and wide, Scott Davies missing the target from distance and the same two players both featuring in breakaways which fizzled out and came to nothing.
Norwich gradually began to take control of the game and with the impressive Wes Hoolahan orchestrating things for them in midfield, the Canaries piled on some pressure with Hoolahan himself firing a rasping shot just over the crossbar and the visitors forcing a series of corners.
Wycombe's new signing Adam Hinshelwood had been making a steady debut in defence until he found himself outpaced by Hoolahan after 27 minutes and wrestled him to the ground just outside the box, earning himself a yellow card in the process despite Grant Holt's attempts to persuade the referee to send him off.
Blues' keeper Scott Shearer just about managed to claw Simon Lappin's curled free kick out from under his crossbar and Chris Martin's effort to turn the loose ball into the net was blocked, but it was clear Norwich were beginning to find their range.
Chris Martin was next to try his luck from a 25 yard free kick and this time it was only the crossbar that saved Wycombe with keeper Shearer beaten.
Scott Davies, who by his normal high standards was having his second disappointing game in a row for Wycombe, will no doubt be kicking himself for squandering a good opportunity shortly before half time when he put a free header ten yards wide of the post after a pinpoint cross from Kevin Betsy had found him unmarked inside the Norwich penalty area.
There was still time for Shearer to keep out another long range effort from the Canaries before the half time whistle sounded with Wycombe deservedly level, having battled hard to restrict the visitors to shooting from distance and having created several chances themselves.
It was backs to the wall for Wycombe during most of the second half though, with Norwich repeatedly surging forward and showing their superior quality all over the pitch as they searched for the goal that would take them into the automatic promotion places at the end of the day.
Holt missed a good chance soon after the restart only to punch one into the net for good measure shortly afterwards, before Shearer was again a match for shots from the two Martins, Chris and former Chairboy Russell.
Aldershot fans had warned us that Hinshelwood seems to be injury prone and sure enough his debut came to a premature end after only an hour when he hobbled off to be replaced by Luke Oliver. Although not perhaps the pacy defender Wycombe are crying out for, Hinshelwood had done enough to suggest that he'll be a welcome addition to the squad, so let's hope it's nothing serious.
Meanwhile, Wycombe's Pittman fired in a tame shot from the edge of the box when he perhaps had time to carry the ball further and at the other end Holt allowed Shearer to rush out and smother the ball when a quicker striker might have got there first.
It looked inevitable that the Canaries pressure would soon tell, but shortly after Lewis Hunt had cleared the ball off his line during a goalmouth scramble, Wycombe carved out a golden opportunity of their own which they really should have taken.
A quick counter attack saw Davies break clear and when he slipped the ball through to the unmarked Matt Phillips just inside the Norwich box, the home crowd were on their feet in anticipation only for the youngster's low shot to hit the foot of the post and rebound clear.
It wouldn't have been a deserved lead but you need all the luck you can get in Wycombe's position and just to rub salt in the wound, the Canaries promptly scored the 78th minute winner.
Hoolahan was the creator, attacking down the left flank and drawing the Wycombe defence before cutting the ball back and presenting Korey Smith with the simple task of side-footing it into the net.
The result was fair - Wycombe fought hard today but were simply up against a better team in Norwich.
Wycombe Men Of The Match
The biggest positive for me was the tenacious performance of the Doc who was back to his old self today having previously struggled to recapture his form since returning from injury.
Scott Shearer kept Wycombe in the game with some spectacular saves although he still has more trouble with crosses than Dracula.
John Mousinho continued his recent good form with another energetic performance full of running and bite.