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Wycombe Wanderers 0
Saturday 31st January 2015
Football League Two
Wanderers slipped to 3rd place in 'League Two' after having to settle for 0-0 draw with out of form Portsmouth at Adams Park.
With news in the week that Paul Hayes had been ruled out for a further month with his calf injury, Gareth Ainsworth made two changes to the starting XI that had played out a goalless draw at Mansfield seven days previous - Hogan Ephraim (his first start since November) and Matt McClure coming in for Matt Bloomfield and Aaron Holloway. Peter Murphy continued in the Wanderers midfield dispite sporting a bandage around his head following a collision in the Mansfield game.
Helped by a tail wind, it was the visitors, kicking towards their own fans in the first half, that dominated the opening 45 minutes. New signing Matt Tubbs (playing for the third time against Wycombe this season, having previously been on loan at Wimbledon from Bournemouth) looked particularly dangerous but Wanderers defence held firm again to play out what would be their fifth clean sheet in the past six games. Pompey then nearly fell to a sucker punch moments before the break when a Joe Jacobson effort crashed against the Valley End crossbar before bouncing to safety.
The second half was an improvement from Wanderers point of view. The introduction of Holloway for Ehpraim on 66 minutes also helped Wycombe end the game the side who looked more likely to steal the points - Alfie Mawson connecting with a Jacobson corner from the right on 85 minutes, only to see his goalbound effort deflected just wide of the target by an outstretched leg.
Wycombe's unbeaten run is now 11 games but it will be quite obvious to the management team that goal scoring has become a problem, while the loss of Josh Scowen in midfield is perhaps more significant as Ainsworth continues to experiment with what he believes is the best combination.
New leaders of 'League Two' are Shrewsbury (54 points) who won 1-0 at Newport. 2nd placed are Burton (54 points) who beat Bury 1-0 at home. Wycombe are on 53 points, three points clear of 4th placed Luton who beat Wanderers next opponents Cambridge United 3-2 at home having led 3-0 with just over 20 minutes remaining. Wycombe will travel to Cambridge on Saturday 7th February, just four days after The U's FA Cup Fourth Round replay with Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Full-time - Wycombe 0 Portsmouth 0
Post match reaction:
Commenting after the game, Gareth Ainsworth said, "I thought it was a total game of two halves. Portsmouth had all the play first half, Wycombe had all the play second half. We hit the crossbar, they had a one-on-one Ė itís probably a fair result for both teams. The domination of both halves by both teams, if it had been 3-3 youíd have said that was a fair result. Iíd have been relieved at half time but full time, no definitely not relieved. Iím disappointed we didnít make our pressure count second half." The Wycombe Manager went on to comment on how the weather conditions had affected the game, saying: "I honestly thought the wind played a big part, especially the kicks. We wanted to play out a bit but Portsmouth were pressing us high and making us kick long. They had done their homework. Itís games like this where youíve got to be clever and come up with something else." Ainsworth concluded "Iím more happy with the clean sheet, I just want to find that goalscoring touch again. We want to start hitting the back of the net and we were close today. Paul Hayesí injury was a big miss for us. We created some good chances, itís just that final touch that eluded us today. We did seem like we were going to get something towards the end. The crowd felt it, I smelt it a little bit, but it wasnít to be. They are down. They feel like, all season, with the standards weíve set Ė the pedestal weíve put ourselves on Ė we want to keep that going. But Iíve told them donít judge that. Thereís no benchmark. You play as well as you can, and at the end of the season the table wonít lie."
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