Date:Sunday January 24 2010
Southend United 1 Wycombe Wanderers 1
There's no denying that Wycombe gave the kind of spirited performance which will be necessary every week if they're to stand any chance of avoiding the drop, but their shortcomings in front of goal cost them dearly yet again when they failed to win all three points despite creating numerous chances.
The first half was an exciting end-to-end affair during which an inspired Kevin Betsy tormented his former Southend teammates, Stuart Beavon continued his recent impressive form, and new signing Dean Keates showed that there is life after Tommy Doherty with some tough tackling and effective distribution, not to mention a decent delivery from corners.
Fellow debutante Josh Payne looks a cultured player, and although he was guilty of dwelling too long on the ball and squandering possession at times during the first half, he improved as the game went on, before really making his mark with the second-half equaliser.
Both sides had chances in the opening forty-five minutes but the Chairboys had most of them, with Keates and Matt Harrold sending headers off target, Beavon firstly shooting wide and then being cruelly thwarted by the keeper's outstretched leg, Betsy firing a shot over the crossbar and Keates again failing to connect with a close range opportunity.
There was also what looked like a cast iron penalty when Betsy was brought down in the box. It was difficult to be sure from the away end, but having since spoken to a few Southend supporters, it seems Wycombe were indeed robbed of a spot kick.
Southend also had their first-half chances and despite the Wycombe defence looking a lot more solid than it did a few months ago, they still looked highly vulnerable to crosses with keeper Scott Shearer continually reluctant to leave his line.
One such cross was almost converted by Francis Laurent and then just before half-time Franck Moussa had a couple of shots which Shearer scrambled to safety.
Southend started the second half brightly and should have opened the scoring when an innocuous shot from Scannell was poorly dealt with by the Wycombe keeper who went down in installments before simply palming the ball into the path of Laurent. Luckily for Wycombe, with an open goal at his mercy, the Frenchman ballooned the ball over the crossbar when it seemed much easier to score.
Not long afterwards, Southend did score when a long cross from the right found Alan McCormack who easily out-jumped Chris Westwood to head firmly past a goal-line rooted Shearer. This was another occasion where you felt the keeper had plenty of time to see the cross and perhaps come and claim it.
Wycombe rallied immediately and following a good period of pressure Josh Payne rifled a 25 yard shot into the corner of the net after the ball had broken to him following more persistent work from the industrious Stuart Beavon.
The visiting crowd were in good voice now, and as Wycombe applied more pressure, there was a genuine feeling that the game was there for the taking.
Former Shrimper Lewis Hunt was the next to try his luck when he cut in from the right and fired off a fierce drive which Southend keeper Steve Mildenhall did well to turn wide.
The feel-good atmosphere in the away end continued, but it was soon to fall flat when another former Shrimper Matt Harrold missed the perfect opportunity to silence his critics, both past and present.
A beautifully flighted Keates corner evaded everyone before presenting Harrold with a seemingly unmissable chance inside the six yard box only for the striker to glance his header wide of the post.
A period of stunned silence followed.
The Chairboys weren't finished though. Beavon, Phillips, Betsy and Harrold all had further attempts on goal which were either just off target, not struck firmly enough or thwarted by more good goalkeeping from Mildenhall.
When the full time whistle sounded it felt more like two points dropped than a point gained. You couldn't fault the team for effort or creativity, but if you don't take your chances and you're prone to lapses at the back, you don't win games when perhaps you should.
If Wycombe had a predatory goalscorer, they wouldn't be in the position they are now. Love him or hate him, Scott McGleish would have bagged a few today. The current strike force didn't score enough goals last season in League Two, expecting it to do so this season in a higher division was optimistic to say the least. Not strengthening the attack during the summer was a big mistake which is proving costly.
Shearer, Hunt, Hinshelwood, Westwood, Woodman, Betsy, Mousinho, Keates, Payne (Phillips 82), Beavon, Harrold.
Wycombe Men Of The Match
Stuart Beavon & Kevin Betsy
Date:Sunday January 24 2010
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