FA Cup: Blues bow out to Hereford
Wycombe Wanderers 0 Hereford United 1
The Blues went out of the FA Cup after failing to make the most of their first-half supremacy, conceding a soft goal from a set piece and giving a poor second-half performance lacking the guile required to trouble Hereford's normally suspect defence.
In his post-match interview manager Gary Waddock said: "I thought we played very well on the night," but the majority of fans inside Adams Park seemed to disagree. Frustration at their side's inability to convert several chances during the first-half, turned to noisy discontent at the lack of quality or urgency on offer after the break.
The competition still means a lot to many fans, and ten years after the epic battles that resulted in a semi-final appearance against Liverpool, it was difficult not to draw comparisons with the lacklustre fare we witnessed tonight.
I'm just guessing, but if the prize had been a trip to Old Trafford in the next round, I wager the Blues might have shown a little more of the energy and fighting spirit you normally associate with lower league clubs in the third-round of the FA Cup.
There were some positives however. Marvin McCoy went a long way towards proving he's the best right-back at the club with an excellent all round performance. The quickest player on the pitch, he neutralised the Bulls' pacey counter-attacks on several occasions and performed his defensive duties well. He's also extremely good going forward and rarely wastes possession with his ability to pick a pass.
During the second-half in particular, McCoy saw plenty of the ball, frequently carrying it deep into the Hereford half only to find no-one offering themselves to receive it in an advanced position.
With the Blues trying a new 4-3-3 formation, we saw plenty of passing in neat triangles in the middle of the park, but precious little penetration. The system failed to get the best out of Stuart Beavon and with neither Kevin Betsy nor Gareth Ainsworth on top form, we lacked a cutting edge.
The first half saw headers from Andy Sandell and Alan Bennett miss the target altogether, while Beavon also rifled a shot wide.
Betsy had a shot saved when a cleaner strike might have resulted in a goal, and he also missed a glorious chance when Scott Donnelly's piledriver rebounded to him in front of goal and he blazed it over the bar.
Ainsworth's back-header then hit the bar and moments later he should have done better with a shot from McCoy's impressive long throw.
Hereford's Mathieu Manset had already seen a deflected shot turned over the bar by keeper Nikki Bull, but finally stabbed home the opening goal from close range after a corner-kick was nodded back into his path.
It was against the run of play, but rather than up their game and reimpose themselves on the visitors, Wycombe failed to rise to the challenge, their only response being another off-target header by Bennett, a shot over the bar by Stuart Lewis and a decent effort from substitute Scott Rendell which flew past the post in the dying minutes.
So it's Hereford who will make the trip to Hillsborough in the fourth-round and good luck to them. They certainly look a better team than their lowly position would suggest.
Man of the Match - Marvin McCoy
Line-up & ratings
Bull (6), McCoy (7), Bennett (6), Westwood (5), Sandell (5), Bloomfield (6), Donnelly (6) (Strevens 65 (4), Lewis (7), Ainsworth (6) (Rendell 65 (5), Betsy (5) (McClure 73 (5), Beavon (6)