Blues go down in battle of the Somme
The 'wobble' is well and truly on after Wycombe Wanderers slipped to their third successive league defeat with a dreadful 2-1 reverse to Accrington Stanley at Adams Park.
Slip is an appropriate word as the Adams Park pitch resembled the Battle of the Somme. You might've been forgiven for looking to see the debut of tank warfare, such was the dreadful state of the pitch.
Yet it is not something that should be used as an excuse for the performance. It was the same for both sides and it ensured the game was to be a battle of attrition and any skill was in short supply. The inability of the Chairboys to make even the simplest of passes reached farcical levels in injury-time.
Essentially Wycombe are a side absolutely shot of confidence and it showed. Missing the likes of Andy Sandell, Chris Westwood and Matt Bloomfield, the side looks lost. Trying to work things out as they go along with an Accrington boot just seconds away is not a recipe for success. All the right words were said pre-match and positive sentiments were expressed but talk is cheap and it needs to happen on the pitch.
Manager Gary Waddock made three changes to the side that threw a point away at Southend in midweek. Strevens returned for Pittman, who was dropped to the bench. Ainsworth started ahead of the injured Betsy who wasn't risked after suffering a tight hamstring. Foster returned to left-back ahead of Straker.
The first half an hour promised much and the hosts dominated possession with the ball spending most of the time in the visitors half. Scott Donnelly had a goal chalked off when his free-kick beat both the on-rushing Rendell and goalkeeper Alex Cisak but the linesman ruled that a Wycombe player had committed an infringement.
Apart from a couple of wayward shots from distance Stanley offered little attacking threat and both sets of players seemed to be battling against the dreadful conditions as much as each other. With half-time approaching the hosts contributed to their own downfall.
Dave Winfield passed straight to an opponent and Alan Bennett got back to cover and concede a corner. The entire Wycombe defence then fell asleep and allowed Charlie Barnett to play the corner to defender Joe Jacobson who was completely unmarked some 15 yards from goal in the centre of the area. If he couldn't believe his luck he certainly made the most of it, side-footing the ball into the net past McCoy on the line.
The half-time break at least allowed the manager to get into his players and they responded well with an equaliser just seven minutes in. It did however come from a dreadful defensive error from defender Phil Edwards who missed his kick, and although Rendell took a heavy first-touch, his second saw him bury the ball in the bottom left-hand corner.
It was just the shot-in-the-arm the hosts needed and for a short spell it looked like they might get on top of their opponents. Sadly it was short-lived. Accrington twice went close to regaining their lead. Midfielder Luke Joyce had his shot well saved by Nikki Bull and from the resulting corner McCoy used his crown jewels to prevent Terry Gornell's shot from finding the net.
The 79 heroic Accrington Stanley fans certainly enjoyed themselves with a vast array of songs including an alternative version of the Sex Pistols Anarchy in the UK. Whilst their players wanted to destroy the passer by the home fans were just trying to never mind the...
Anyway, that's enough of that. Waddock tried to change things with the introduction of Pittman for Beavon and whilst his pace caused some consternation in the Stanley defence it made little real difference and the battle intensified on the glue-pot of a pitch.
Referee Mr Malone was arguably the man of the match which tells you all you need to know about the quality of the game. He did well when Ian Craney and Stuart Lewis got involved in a daft contretemps that ended in a yellow card each. The battle eventually finished with a total of seven bookings.
Accrington did restore their lead with just eight minutes remaining and it was a repeat of the first goal. Lewis wasted possession with a loose pass that led to Ainsworth up-ending Barnett and he got up to whip in a free-kick that Edwards met with his head to find the top right-hand corner of the net.
They never looked like relinquishing the lead and the Blues finished the game looking like a desperate side, devoid of ideas and confidence. Seconds from full-time Winfield conceded a foul to which Donnelly shouted at the official that the decision was 'Foxtrot Sierra.' It was a perfect summation of the entire afternoon. It was dreadful.
Line-up & ratings
Bull (6), McCoy (5), Bennett (4), Winfield (4), Foster(5), Lewis (4), Donnelly (5), Ainsworth (5), Strevens (4), Beavon (5) (Pittman 61 (5)), Rendell (6*)