Basic defensive errors cost Blues dearly
Rochdale 2 Wycombe Wanderers 1
Vital Wycombe would like to thank guest writer Dale Jenkins for the following report.
Gary Waddock`s frank post-match assessment told you all you need to know about today`s match at Spotland.
Two simple goals from defensive calamities were enough to give Rochdale a much needed three points against the Chairboys, who were in equal need of the victory.
Much has been made of Wycombe`s apparent inability to raise their level against the so-called poorer sides of League One and that continued today.
Following a morale boosting win against Sheffield United and an encouraging performance on Tuesday night at Adams Park against Preston, it was back to the usual routine of dropping their standards against teams expected to finish near the bottom of the table.
There was just one change to the side that narrowly lost out to Preston on Tuesday with Joel Grant replacing Gareth Ainsworth, meaning the game came too soon for Dave Winfield, and that Stuart Beavon was left alone up front in favour of maintaining a five man midfield in a match where the Chairboys really needed three points.
I have to confess I missed the opening few minutes due to a long journey from Southampton to Rochdale, but I've been reliably informed that some early pressure was applied to the Blues goal with Nikki Bull superbly denying David Ball`s header from point-blank range.
However, I had thankfully entered Spotland by the time Scott Donnelly exchanged passes with Beavon in the sixth minute, before rounding the goalkeeper and slotting the ball into the corner from a tight angle. This led me into a somewhat false belief that it was going to be a good day.
Grimes and Ball looked quick and lively up front for Dale, and with Adams also giving Foster a hard time on the wing another goal did not look long in coming.
Grimes had narrowly missed the target with an acrobatic effort before equalising after twenty-one minutes. A basic exchange of short passes saw Adams find Grimes, who curled the ball home without a challenge from the pedestrian James Tunnicliffe or the ambling Andy Sandell, giving Bull no chance.
The Rochdale left-back then plundered a long range effort inches wide with Bull standing watching, and Ball also left Bull rooted to the spot with another near miss.
The only decent Wycombe opening came when a raking crossfield ball was superbly trapped and back-heeled by Beavon to Donnelly, who blasted over the crossbar via a deflection.
The second half started in a fairly shambolic manner with both sides struggling to complete more than a couple of passes in quick succession, before Dale took the lead with a goal of remarkable simplicity after 66 minutes.
A long punt from goalkeeper Jake Kean missed the entire defence leaving Grimes with the simple task of lobbing Bull, who was probably wondering what was going on in front of him. If the goal had been conceded in a Sunday league match, as Gary Waddock rightly said, it would have resulted in a furious reaction. Most of the Wycombe supporters were too stunned at the ineptitude of the defending to even bother venting their collective spleen.
For all their hustle and bustle Wycombe lacked any clear quality and only a back-peddling tip-over from a looping Beavon header provided any serious work for Kean.
Rochdale easily saw out the match with some time-wasting and by maintaining possession while the Wanderers were bereft of creation or a cutting edge.
Defensive shambles are just one of the reasons behind the worrying statistic that Wanderers have lost all their fixtures against Yeovil, Tranmere, Bury and now Rochdale who, according to Nikki Bull, are in a mini-league of around eight teams that the Chairboys will realistically be fighting for League One survival.
Whilst a 1-3 win at Brisbane Road suggests this may be a somewhat selective choice of words it certainly seems true that the Blues appear unable to raise their game for the crunch matches that will end up deciding their fate for the season.
The odd exciting win against a side much-fancied for promotion will not be enough to survive in League One as our last visit here suggested. Quite simply Wycombe have to be picking up points from the sides that are expected to finish around them. Unless performances and results against these sides perk up, relegation seems inevitable.
4-5-1 does not seem the right tactic to be employing with lots of long balls being flicked on to no-one by the tireless Beavon, and Scott Rendell should be re-introduced.
Gary Waddock`s harsh but truthful assessment will need to stir a reaction for next Saturday`s visit of Walsall otherwise things will begin to look grim. His public blasts of criticism following debacles at the likes of Huddersfield, Brighton, Yeovil and Chesterfield have worked on previous occasions and they will need to have the same effect again, but on a consistent basis.
Ratings: Bull 6, Foster 6, Tunnicliffe 4, Johnson 6, Sandell 4 (McCoy 5), Grant 5 (Ainsworth 5), Lewis 5 (Benyon 4), Rowlands 4, Donnelly 6, Harris 6, Beavon 7*