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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Dire defending costs Blues dearly


Southend United 3 Wycombe Wanderers 2


Having given a controlled and stylish first-half performance, the Blues imploded during a woeful second-half in which the Shrimpers exposed their defensive frailties and sent them crashing to a second defeat in three days.

Much has been made of Wycombe's new-found attacking philosophy under manager Gary Waddock - even if the goals-for column tells a different story - but little has been said about the defensive capabilities of a side that has now conceded exactly the same number of league goals in 29 games as Peter Taylor's 2009 promotion-winners did in an entire season.

Seemingly incapable of dealing with bog-standard crosses into the box, The Blues' defending for all three goals would have disappointed a pub team.

Having looked the better side by a mile during the first-half, Wycombe fully deserved their 1-0 half-time lead.

Playing a new 4-3-3 formation, they enjoyed most of the possession, their movement and passing was good, and Jon-Paul Pittman's 30th minute goal came at the end of a very well-worked move involving several players.

Prior to the goal, Matt Bloomfield, Scott Donnelly and Kevin Betsy all had shots on-goal, while for the Shrimpers, Anthony Grant hit the post and Kane Ferdinand fired one over the bar.

Five minutes into the second half, an unmarked Barry Corr nodded home a Southend corner to make the score 1-1. You would have thought the 6ft 3in striker was a fairly obvious choice to mark at set-pieces, particularly as he deprived Wycombe of two points last season by heading home a stoppage time equaliser for Exeter - again from a corner.

Ten minutes later Wycombe were 2-1 down when a deep cross from the right was headed home by an unmarked Kane Ferdinand.

Wycombe looked all over the place. The slick passing had completely disappeared as the defensive errors had a negative effect on the midfielders and forwards who had worked so hard to build a lead only to see it frittered away.

To their credit, they rallied a little, and a Stuart Beavon shot glanced off the crossbar before Scott Donnelly's free-kick whistled narrowly past the post.

Southend were a different animal now though, and when Anthony Grant burst into the box and went down under a challenge from Marvin McCoy the referee pointed to the spot.

In the first part of a double-lifeline thrown to the Blues, Blair Sturrock's poor penalty was kept out by keeper Nikki Bull.

Then in the final minute of normal time, Wycombe were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box. Gareth Ainsworth's shot hit the wall, but he chased the rebound out wide and fired-in a fierce cross which struck Craig Easton's hand - penalty kick to Wycombe.

Scott Rendell calmly slotted the ball home and it looked like the Blues would salvage a point after all - heck, there might even be time for a winner thought the travelling support.

But no. The fourth-official signalled 4 minutes of stoppage-time, Anthony Grant fell over for the umpteenth time, the referee awarded Southend another free kick, they lumped it into the box, Easton was the first to react and the Blues were beaten again.


Line-up & ratings
Bull (6), McCoy (5), Bennett (4), Winfield (4), Straker (5), Bloomfield (5) (Betsy 28 (5), Lewis (6), Donnelly (5), Beavon (6) (Ainsworth 70 (5), Rendell (6), Pittman (6).




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The Journalist

Writer: Len Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday February 16 2011

Time: 3:23AM

 

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