Stylish Blues Send Gills Down
Wycombe Wanderers beat Gillingham 3-0 at Adams Park this afternoon to send the Kent side crashing down into League Two.
Having watched how hard their own side fought in vain to avoid the drop in recent weeks, any Wycombe fans expecting to see a similar battling performance from Gillingham today will have been surprised at just how easily the visitors relinquished their League One status.
Perhaps they just didn't believe it could happen. Because for the Gills to be relegated today, not only did they have to lose, but all sorts of results elsewhere had to go against them as well. The only one they could do anything about was their own, and quite frankly they were awful.
When the Gills fans booed their team off the pitch at the end of the game, it was in stark contrast to the sustained applause the Wycombe players were given when their own fate was sealed at Orient last week. It's small consolation, but if there's such a thing as a good way to be relegated, the Chairboys managed it and Gillingham certainly didn't.
Wycombe's performance today was enjoyable to watch. It helped that for the first time in ages the usual gut-wrenching tension was missing, but it wasn't just that, it was also to do with the style of the victory.
The first goal was a belter from Matt Phillips scored in first-half stoppage time. Jon-Paul Pittman was heavily involved, collecting the ball near the half-way line and spraying it out to Phillips before making a run on the overlap to drag a defender with him. Phillips cut inside, advanced on goal and sent a left-footed screamer beyond the reach of Gills' keeper Alan Julian.
The start of the second half saw something approaching resistance from the Gills, but their two best chances went begging when Simeon Jackson somehow contrived to shoot over the bar from point blank range and Dennis Oli tamely scuffed a shot when he really should have scored.
Wycombe's second goal was scored after 63 minutes by loanee defender Alan Bennett. Matt Phillips fizzed a speedy corner kick over the heads of everyone in the goalmouth and there was Bennett lurking at the back post to head it powerfully home.
The Blues thought they were three-up when Pittman headed home a Phillips cross only for the goal to be disallowed for offside, but they kept pressing forward at every opportunity and were soon celebrating again.
Kevin Betsy scored the third goal after 71 minutes when he made a darting run into the box and took an astute pass from Craig Woodman before watching his deflected shot beat keeper Julian to finally scupper Gillingham's hopes of getting anything from the game.
The home fans were even treated to a glimpse of the future when 16 year-old Kadeem Harris replaced the disappointing Kevin McLeod for the final half-hour of the game.
The youngster showed some nice touches and wasn't afraid to take people on. In fact, three Gillingham players were shown yellow cards for bringing Harris down during his short but enjoyable time on the pitch.
Four of the Wycombe players on show today are about to come to the end of their contract and three of them to the end of their loan spells with the club.
Of the loanees, Kelly, Bennett and Heaton all performed well today and would no doubt be welcome back at Adams Park anytime.
Of those coming to the end of their contract, Kevin Betsy was superb again and must surely be offered a new deal. The winger played up-front with Pittman for most of today's game before dropping into central midfield when Lewis Montrose went off, and this versatility is just another string to his bow and another reason to hang onto him.
Lewis Hunt has also proved to be versatile. The full-back has been a rock while playing out of position on the right side of central defence in recent weeks and today showed he can be equally good on the left side. His recent performances will have done him no harm at all in the eyes of manager Gary Waddock.
So that's it for another season. It didn't end the way we all hoped it would way back in August, but at least we went down fighting and there's every reason to believe that we have the basis of a good side who can challenge for promotion next year and perhaps even do it in style.
Now it's down to Gary Waddock to add the right players to the mix.
Man of the Match
Heaton, Kelly, Bennett, Hunt, Woodman, Phillips, Mousinho, Montrose (Ainsworth 76), McLeod (Harris 62), Betsy, Pittman.