A Dagger To The Heart
Goals from Afolabi Obafemi and Rhys Murphy meant there was precious little for Wycombe fans to cheer about again this afternoon, as Dagenham coasted to a 2-0 win despite their manager John Burnett describing their performance as ''pathetic''.
Strong at home, the hosts made it six wins from a possible nine at Victoria Park with just the one defeat at home this season, as a goal in either half sealed a comfortable win. The Chairboys can add another red card to their growing collection as Anthony Stewart was controversially sent off by referee Keith Stroud with the score at 1-0.
Gareth Ainsworth made five changes from Tuesday's disappointing 1-1 draw with Exeter City. In came Johnson, Dunne, Kretzschmar, Cowan-Hall and McClure, and out went Doherty, Wood, Bloomfield, Morgan and Knott.
It meant reverting back to a 4-4-2 formation but fortunes failed to improve as Wycombe made it six league games without a win, stretching back to 19th October against ten man Bristol Rovers. Two points from a possible 18 is not good enough, it is relegation form and it's hard to see where the next win is coming from.
The first ten minutes was a duel of aerial ping pong as neither side looked capable of putting their foot on the ball and passing it around. There was a glimmer of hope as Kretzschmar sent a pre-determined set piece routine to the far post, but McClure`s header back across goal failed to find a Blue shirt.
Josh Scowen received his mandatory yellow card in the 22nd minute for another needless foul on the half way line, and the hosts took the lead just two minutes later with the first serious chance of the game. It was a dreadful goal for the Wanderers to concede as a couple of dummies fooled the Wanderers backline, and Dunne failed to hold off Afolabi Obafemi, who easily rolled him and fired across Ingram into the net. It was another cheap goal to concede.
Five minutes later, Rhys Murphy was put in the clear past the Wanderers' centre-back pairing but he could only miscue his shot harmlessly wide of goal.
For Wycombe, Kretzschmar sent a 30 yard free kick narrowly over, and it looked like Anthony Stewart had equalised after 40 minutes, only for his header to be disallowed for a foul. Steven Craig was also unable to shake off an arm injury and he was replaced by Morgan.
The Blues were having their best spell of the game at this point, and after a Lewis shot was slashed wide, Scott Doe did excellently to block off McClure when Morgan's pass deflected into his path.
The late flurry of activity raised hopes in the away end and the half time whistle seemed to come at the wrong time for Wycombe as Scowen began taking charge in the centre and Cowan-Hall started to look a threat on the right wing.
It proved to be a false dawn though, as just a minute after the interval the contest was effectively over. Murphy was sent clean through in between Wycombe's centre backs yet again, and the last man Stewart hauled him down. It looked like Stewart got the ball, but only after coming through Murphy to do so. A red card followed for the defender, and Murphy picked himself up to easily roll the spot kick into the bottom right hand corner as Ingram went the wrong way.
Ainsworth's dubious ploy to rescue something from a two goal deficit was to bring on Gary Doherty at centre half as Kretzschmar was sacrificed, and later Junior Morias for McClure, probably the only natural finisher at the club.
Wycombe were fraught now at two goals down, and despite McClure doing well to charge down goalkeeper Lewington's clearance, there was precious little hope to cling on to, with quality and creativity looking in very short supply. It could have been three as the Daggers had a Hines goal chalked off for offside as Ingram fumbled an effort from range.
Invention was needed desperately now, and Cowan-Hall finally provided a moment of quality for Wanderers after 72 minutes, volleying in a long range effort that was superbly tipped over by Lewington. As Wycombe continued to huff and puff, Josh Scowen gave his all. Chasing lost causes and regaining possession regularly, he really set the example whilst his midfield partner Lewis was again disappointing, adding nothing but aimless punts for small forwards to chase and the distinct impression of a headless chicken.
In truth it never looked like Wycombe would get back into this game, but they were almost handed a lifeline as injury time approached. Doherty's header hit the base of the post and the improved Dunne just failed to turn home the rebound.
The final whistle sounded shortly afterwards to confirm the predictable result. Whatever anyone tries to claim, it is painful to watch Wycombe Wanderers at present and a relegation battle seems to be impending. An injection of creative quality is desperately needed in midfield and attack to give the Chairboys more teeth going forward and to re-establish some confidence in an ailing young squad. When your most creative players are arguably Billy Knott, who was ill today, and Morgan, who has been short of form and turned in another poor performance today, there doesn`t look to be much hope left.
Ratings: Ingram 5, McCoy 5, Johnson 4, Stewart 5, Dunne 6, Cowan-Hall 6, Scowen 7*, Lewis 4, Kretzschmar 5 (Doherty 50` 5), Craig 4 (Morgan 42' 4), McClure 5 (Morias 83' N/A)
Attendance: 1,618 (361 Chairboys).