Writer: Adam Clift
Date:Saturday December 14 2013
Wycombe Wanderers 1 Scunthorpe United 1
A Leon Johnson goal six minutes into stoppage time papered over the cracks, as another inept Wycombe display extended their winless run to eight league games.
Deon Burton had given the visitors a deserved lead and if it wasn't for Matt Ingram the game would've been out of site, but Johnson rose in the box to give 10 man Wanderers, Josh Scowen having seen red, their second consecutive last minute equaliser in the league.
There were four changes this week in Ainsworth's usual starting XI roundabout. Nick Arnold came in for Marvin McCoy who was serving a one match ban following five bookings. Leon Johnson replaced the injured Charles Dunne with Kortney Hause reverting to left back. Finally, Steven Craig and Sam Wood replaced Dean Morgan and Billy Knott meaning the Blues operated a 4-4-2 formation. Gary Doherty and Matt Spring missed out completely. Why? Only the manager knows.
The opening stages saw Scunthorpe dominate the ball with Sam Winnall narrowly missing a Deon Burton cross. However, it was Wycombe who had the better opportunities to score.
Steven Craig and Matt McClure linked brilliantly before Craig nodded the ball into McClure's path and the top scorer's right-footed attempt flew narrowly past the post.
Next it was Cowan-Hall and Wood who combined well, with the right-winger finding Wood in acres of space only for his shot to go straight into the arms of Iron keeper Sam Slocombe. More neat work followed. This time all four of the aforementioned players combined, with Craig eventually finding Cowan-Hall, only for his shot to be blocked and deflected wide.
It was then Scunthorpe's turn to create some chances, with Ingram first saving from David Syers before Sean McAllister drove the ball wide.
The Blues were forced into a substitution before half-time as Steven Craig picked up an injury and was replaced by the shockingly out of form Dean Morgan. The Scottish front man was limping heavily, and hopefully the injury isn't too serious.
The last action of the half saw veteran striker Deon Burton head wide for the visitors, as Wycombe's neat interchangeable play seemed longer and longer ago.
Just like the first half, Scunthorpe started the second half well, and they got their reward only three minutes after the interval. Wanderers had originally dealt with a Scunny free-kick but due to the baffling tactic of bringing every player back, when the ball was cleared, it was immediately returned, and after McAllister's shot was blocked, the ball fell fortuitously for Burton who smashed it past Ingram.
Wycombe's heads dropped, and things got worse on the hour as Cowan-Hall followed Steven Craig in limping down the tunnel, Jo Kuffour coming on his place, and putting in a decent and very impressive shift.
Kuffour has had his critics but deserves some praise for his work ethic and contribution this afternoon. One of his first actions led to Matt McClure having a rare second half opportunity for the hosts, only to blaze the ball wide.
Matt Ingram saved smartly with his feet from Winnall before Wanderers' task got even harder on the 70 minute mark when Josh Scowen received his marching orders for two quick-fire bookings. Firstly, he fouled Eddie Nolan, and a matter of minutes later he lunged in on McAllister leaving referee Fred Graham no choice but to show the red card.
Matt Ingram then came to the rescue again as he saved well from a Dave Syers' header. Scunthorpe were dominating now and Wycombe were barely seeing the ball. Syers' again had a chance to kill the game off but prodded wide and with four minutes left on the clock Ingram again did brilliantly to deny Winnall.
The Blues' final substitution of the afternoon failed to inspire as Junior Morias replaced Matt McClure leaving Wycombe with no goal threat up front whatsoever.
There was a glimmer of hope when six minutes of stoppage time were added but when Pompey hero Anthony Stewart headed wide it looked as if it was all over. But thankfully it wasn't, this time Scunthorpe couldn't clear their lines and when Stuart Lewis, who was atrocious throughout, hooked the ball back into the box, Leon Johnson rose highest to send the terrace into jubilant scenes.
After all our late heartbreak this campaign it was nice to get a stoppage-time qualiser of our own for the second league game running, but unfortunately this will once again paper over the cracks. We were second best for almost the whole contest, Ainsworth didn't know how to change it tactically, and again believed dancing up and down the touchline waving his arms around would win his team the game.
A 1-0 loss may have resulted in people calling for his head, and I don't believe this equaliser should change that. Stuart Lewis for example is in abysmal form but is never dropped, whereas Matt Spring has played well in his few appearances, and is always immediately chopped from the side.
Things need to change fast, and nothing less than three points at lowly Northampton next week will be acceptable.
Ingram 7*, Arnold 6, Stewart 6, Johnson 6, Hause 7, Cowan-Hall 6 (Kuffour 7), Scowen 4, Lewis 4, Wood 7, Craig 6 (Morgan 5), McClure 6 (Morias N/a)
Date:Saturday December 14 2013
Relegation Round Up (Monday April 14 2014)
The Opposition View - Newport County (Sunday April 13 2014)
Dismal display leaves Blues on the brink (Saturday April 12 2014)
Stats: Newport County v Wycombe Wanderers (Saturday April 12 2014)
Preview: Newport County v Wycombe Wanderers (Thursday April 10 2014)
The Opposition View - Dagenham (Sunday April 6 2014)
Stats: Wycombe Wanderers v Dagenham and Redbridge (Saturday April 5 2014)
Blues bank a vital three points (Saturday April 5 2014)
Preview: Wycombe Wanderers v Dagenham & Redbridge (Wednesday April 2 2014)
Wycombe win 7-1 (Tuesday April 1 2014)
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