Blues beaten as Wednesday celebrate promotion
Vital Wycombe would like to thank guest writer Dale Jenkins for the following report.
Sheffield Wednesday clinched a fully deserved 2-0 win at Hillsborough this afternoon to return to the Championship in front of a record breaking crowd of 38,082.
I make no apology for writing a few lines about the day out today. There was a party atmosphere around the ground and the stadium was packed to its rafters with every seat taken. This was the sort of occasion a club of Wycombe`s size dreams of experiencing, and it was just a shame that they came here with nothing to play for following a bitterly disappointing season. It would have been nice to see the team express themselves a little more and try to impress the capacity crowd with some passing football, but nonetheless they at least put their bodies on the line, which is more than you can say for some games this season.
The 487 Wycombe supporters were keen to enjoy the occasion though, with many kitted up in fancy dress. They made some good friends within the Wednesday support, joining in with magnanimous applause and mutual respect at the final whistle which was reciprocated by the appreciative home support.
The game itself began at a fair tempo. The Owls were keen to do the early pressing with Wycombe sitting back, albeit effectively as no real chances were created in the opening quarter of an hour. Soon, however, Michail Antonio nutmegged Charles Dunne, an early substitute for the injured Grant Basey, and cut the ball back perfectly only for a woeful finish way over the bar. Wycombe were also indebted to Nikki Bull for a sprinkling of fine saves. A sublime tip over from Miguel Llera`s header and a point blank reaction save from Gary Madine denied the hosts the lead.
The deadlock was finally broken after 25 minutes. Nile Ranger exposed a gaping hole in the Wanderers defence with a knock-down header, and the outstanding Antonio raced clean through on goal before poking past the onrushing Bull. This was greeted with delirium by all four sides of the ground, which was soon repeated as news filtered through that Exeter had taken the lead against near neighbours and promotion rivals Sheffield United. At this point the Wycombe contingent in the North West corner was just hoping to avoid a pummelling.
No further goals arrived before the half-time whistle, although Bull was again called upon to make a stunning save before Ranger`s follow up header was ruled out for offside. All Wycombe had to show for their efforts was a wayward Gareth Ainsworth free-kick and a scuffed effort from Matt McClure.
The second half began with Wycombe looking to gain a foothold, but any chance of them spoiling the party evaporated after 52 minutes. A very harsh free-kick was given, duly taken and shoddy Wycombe defending allowed Ranger to head home unchallenged from six yards.
It was such a poor goal to concede. It was however a perfect indicator of why Wycombe have achieved a pathetic four clean sheets all season long. The flawless display of Llera at the heart of the Sheffield Wednesday defence was in complete contrast, and it`s hardly surprising that these two sides will be two divisions apart next season.
Wycombe continued to battle however, and Matt Bloomfield sent a rasper inches wide as they searched for a way back into the game. In truth though the hosts were comfortable, and could have added to the scoreline had it not been for a heroic block by Gary Doherty and a superb clearance by Louis Laing.
The full time whistle confirmed Sheffield Wednesday`s promotion, prompting a rapturous roar and the inevitable pitch invasion. Wycombe were left to reflect on a desperately disappointing campaign, and it will take a lot of time, will and hard work off the pitch to build a side capable of holding its own in the Fourth Division next season.
Ratings: Bull 8, McCoy 5, Doherty 7, Laing 6, Basey n/a (Dunne 6), Bloomfield 6, Lewis 6, Eastmond 6, Ainsworth 5, McClure 5, Beavon 6
Writer: Dale Jenkins