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

Blues slip quietly out of the cup

Wycombe Wanderers 0 Preston North End 1

The Blues slipped out of the FA Cup with barely a whimper as they chalked up their sixth home-defeat of the season.

Preston's Kevin Davies scored the only goal of the game after 34 minutes, a spectacular 30 yard volley which will give Wycombe keeper Matt Ingram nightmares tonight.

Wanderers' manager Gareth Ainsworth made his usual raft of changes, four this time, with Kortney Hause, Anthony Stewart, Charles Dunne and Josh Scowen, replacing Leon Johnson, Gary Doherty, Sam Wood and Matt Spring.

This week's formation was a tricky one to fathom. Paris Cowan-Hall was seemingly given a more advanced role, while Dean Morgan dropped deep and Billy Knott was shoe-horned out to the left.

Whatever it was, and whatever it was supposed to achieve, it failed again, and the Blues have now won only once in their last eleven outings.

The first half was bereft of entertainment, quality, passion, penetration, a will to win, you name it, it was missing from both sides.

When you remember some of the thrilling cup ties Wycombe have been involved in over the years, and compare them to today's fare, it becomes blindingly obvious why attendances are so grim.

The first half contained only four incidents worth mentioning.

Ingram saved a Tom Clarke header, Dunne was injured and replaced by Wood, a Scowen Free-kick was deflected goalwards and cleared off the line, and Davies scored the winner.

The second half was an improvement, but only barely.

Hause headed a corner high over the bar when he should have done better, and Knott fluffed a chance when put through by Morgan.

Thankfully, Preston were equally inept in front of goal, and Davies kindly nodded one over from point blank range when it looked easier to score.

At the other end, Knott turned and clipped a shot narrowly wide shortly before being replaced by Max Kretzschmar after 70 minutes.

Sam Wood then made a superb last ditch tackle to thwart Josh Brownhill who was clean through on goal with a great chance of putting us out of our misery.

This sparked a flurry of effort from the Lilywhites who finally came out of second gear and forced a fingertip save from Ingram and a goalline clearance from McClure.

With ten minutes to go, Ainsworth made another change, Steven Craig coming on for Dean Morgan.

Now, I've always been a big fan of Morgan but he's struggling at the moment. He was in great form before his injury. He looked fit, his attitude and workrate were better than last season and he scored five goals by mid September.

It was a great start, but it's all gone wrong. Clearly overweight when he returned from his injury, Morgan has now had several weeks to lose the excess, but hasn't. His fitness looks poor and his touch has largely deserted him.

Getting him back on track is a job for Ainsworth, and the sooner the better, as a hard-working but toothless Wycombe side are crying out for a touch of creativity.

It took until the 83rd minute of today's game for the Blues to have their first shot on target, a long-range effort from Kretzschmar which was comfortably gathered by Preston keeper Declan Rudd.

Having had nothing to do all afternoon, Rudd was suddenly forced to make saves from Marvin McCoy and Anthony Stewart as the Blues offered too little too late in their attempt to reach the potentially lucrative third round draw.

Line-up & ratings
Ingram (5), McCoy (6), Stewart (7), Hause (6), Dunne (n/a) (Wood 14 (6)) Lewis (5), Scowen (6), Knott (5) (Kretzschmar 71 (5)), Cowan-Hall (5), Morgan (5) (Craig 81 (n/a)) , McClure (5)

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The Journalist

Writer: Len Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday December 7 2013

Time: 8:16PM


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