Dismal first half sinks the Blues
Morecambe 2 Wycombe Wanderers 1
The Chairboys lumbered to a 2-1 defeat at Morecambe to extend their winless league run to five games.
An Adebayo Akinfenwa consolation, his tenth goal of the season, wasn`t enough as Morecambe who were the better side for the majority of the game secured all three points thanks to Steve Old and Adam McGurk.
Gareth Ainsworth made one change to the side that started at Solihull last week. Eberechi Eze was available again and he replaced Matt Bloomfield. Scott Kashket, Michael Harriman, Nathan Tyson, and now Josh Umerah who had ankle surgery this week, remain long term absentees.
Morecambe had Garry Thompson in their starting line-up, Max Muller was ineligible.
Wanderers started the game brightly with Eze having a shot comfortably saved by Barry Roche, and Nick Freeman stinging the keeper`s palms in the opening two minutes.
Thompson was playing in front of the travelling fans in the first half, and he received a good ovation when taking the first of his trademark long throws in front of his former supporters.
He then had a low cross cut out by Scarr, and another knocked down by Ellison who easily out-jumped Gape before Aaron Wildig fired over.
Morecambe had started to look by far the more comfortable of the two sides. Adam McGurk tried his luck from distance as he spotted Scott Brown off of his line but his effort went over.
Back up the other end Sam Saunders had a shot blocked and Akinfenwa had a looping header which was comfortable for Roche.
Morecambe then won a corner, with Saunders receiving a booking for an off the ball incident in the build-up. Craig Mackail-Smith cleared the initial ball in, but Wildig put in a second delivery which was converted brilliantly by the unmarked Steve Old after he`d lost Scarr.
Wycombe tried to hit back, but were aimlessly punting it towards Akinfenwa far too regularly. Freeman dragged a shot tamely wide moments after he`d fed Akinfenwa whose lay off wouldn`t quite sit for Eze.
The QPR loanee then found himself in space for the first time all game as he skipped through the midfield. His pass to Mackail-Smith was poor though. Eze was struggling to get into the game with the ball going over his head the majority of the time, or with Morecambe bullying him out of it.
Then just two minutes before half-time the hosts doubled their lead. Thompson`s cross was never fully cleared, and the ball was eventually laid off to McGurk who drilled into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Before today Morecambe hadn`t scored a home league goal since September 16th. Today they had two in the opening 45 minutes.
Ellison then fired narrowly wide in the one minute of stoppage time. Morecambe deserved their lead at the break, Wycombe had been terrible.
Wanderers didn`t exactly come out all guns blazing in the second half, and Morecambe were still looking the more convincing side without creating much.
Gape sliced a shot over, Scarr had a half volley blocked, and Akinfenwa flicked a long Brown kick over the bar. I wouldn`t have classed any of these as chances though.
Scarr then brought down McGurk about 25 yards from goal, but recovered to block Ellison`s goal bound free-kick.
Marcus Bean fired over from the edge of the area on the hour mark, before Anthony Stewart burst forward with the ball, beat two men, and found Akinfenwa who turned and forced a smart save from Roche.
Saunders then sent a curling effort towards goal which was palmed away by Roche. This was the midfielder`s last action of the afternoon as he and Dom Gape were replaced by Luke O`Nien and Paris Cowan-Hall with a quarter of the game remaining.
Paris and Freeman went into wing-back roles, as Wanderers changed to a back three.
The Blues were beginning to crank up the pressure, knowing that a goal could really get the Morecambe nerves going as they were desperate for the points for their own reasons. Akinfenwa headed a Freeman cross wide, and Mackail-Smith put a Cowan-Hall cross over the bar.
Cowan-Hall was finding himself in lots of space down the right hand side, and his next cross seemed to go over everybody, only for Freeman to fire a left footed volley at goal which was superbly kept out by Roche.
But just a minute later a Cowan-Hall cross was converted. Akinfenwa rose highest and directed a header past Roche for his tenth of the season, his seventh with his head. He`s now the joint top scorer in the league along with Accrington`s Billy Kee.
Bloomfield had replaced Eze in between the Freeman chance and Bayo goal.
Akinfenwa`s eleventh goal (and eighth headed) almost followed immediately. Freeman crossed from the left this time, and the Beast`s header back across goal went narrowly wide.
Mackail-Smith was next to try his luck. He cut in and whipped one towards the bottom corner, but Roche was equal to it.
Freeman then shot straight at the keeper from 30 yards, before Akinfenwa had another header which was wasted.
The hosts were able to see out the four minutes of stoppage time professionally to secure a big three points for them.
It meant Wycombe suffered their fifth league game without a win, two of these away losses. However they somehow remain in the play-offs, which shows just how tight and unpredictable League Two is.
Despite a host of half chances, with the stats showing 23 shots, it wasn`t a good performance. A lack of Plan B was evident again, and the persistent hoof ball was particularly bizarre when you have the footballing ability of Saunders and Eze in the midfield.
Hopefully this is just a blip, but there`s no doubt three points are a must at home to Crawley next Saturday to get the season back on track.
Brown 6 - Could have commanded his box better for the first.
Gape 5 - Did OK again at right-back, but surely Jombati was the obvious choice against Ellison?
Stewart 6 - A couple of excellent forward runs in the second half.
Scarr 4 - Hoofs it like Pierre did which doesn`t suit our play with Saunders and Eze in the side. Defensively suspect at times too.
Jacobson 6 - Not at his best, but dealt well with Thompson who definitely put himself about.
Bean 6 - Another solid game, doing exactly what he`s there to do.
Saunders 5 - Not fully at the races, but our tactics didn`t help.
Eze 5 - Couldn`t get into the game for same reason as Saunders. Morecambe had also done their homework.
Mackail-Smith 6 - Excellent work rate as usual.
Akinfenwa 7 - Yet another goal and his usual effective self, flicking it on and bringing it down.
Freeman 6 - Grew into the game after a very slow opening 60 minutes.
Cowan-Hall 7 - Positive. Played as a wing-back and put in two excellent crosses. One leading to the goal.
O`Nien 7 - Great to see him back on the pitch doing what he does. Put himself about with some nice football too.