Wycombe remain unbeaten on the road in the league following a deserved point on the South coast. Infact, it could have been three points after another impressive display, in which the Chairboys took the lead but were unable to hold out in the cauldron like atmosphere of Fratton Park.
Pompey keeper Paul Jones was the busier keeper in the first half as Wycombe’s 4-3-3 formation applied steady pressure on the 3-5-2 of the home side. Portsmouth looked dangerous on the break, exploiting the space out wide but Joe Jacobson and Sido Jombati stood firm. These two full backs are fantastic acquisitions for Gareth Ainsworth that allow him to commit players further forward and in the instance of Saturday, match three strikers against the back three of Portsmouth. Youngster Jack Whatmough had such a torrid time against Paul Hayes he was replaced by an out of position Johnny Ertl at half time. Pompey were still finding their feet after the break with a new back three when Wycombe were able to pounce on fifty minutes. A clever finish by Sam Wood following a mis hit shot by Peter Murphy gave the Chairboys a deserved lead and silenced the massive home support. Five minutes later it should have been game over. After some excellent work from Sido Jombati, Matt McClure found himself through on goal and with just Jones to beat he lashed his shot over the bar. Before Wycombe could even rue that miss, the impressive James Dunne rattled Matt Ingram’s crossbar at the other end. Andy Awford moved to a 3-4-3 and backed by a vociferous home crowd Pompey began to turn the screw with Jed Wallace the main threat. It was a corner that brought about the equaliser with substitute Ertl unmarked and able to volley home on seventy minutes. This was made even more disappointing by Wycombe’s lack of threat from their own set pieces, which up to Saturday had been a real positive from the campaign so far.
Paul Hayes picked up a birthday yellow card for possibly the longest substitution I’ve ever seen as the captain had to waste time whilst Paris Cowan-Hall had to completely change his kit as a result of a blood injury. Understandably, the home supporters were getting increasingly frustrated with Wycombe’s time wasting and a combination of this plus five substitutions and a couple of injuries led to six minutes of injury time. The Chairboys saw this out comfortably but even some of the away contingent were not happy by some of the gamesmanship on display. No one likes to see time wasting, least of all paying punters but slowing the game down and frustrating the opposition is something that Gareth Ainsworth has clearly drilled into his tightly knit squad. The Wycombe manager survived a torrid season last time out and is now, with a limited budget, admirably using every single thing in his control to turn the club around. Currently on an impressive unbeaten run of six games I can’t see these tactics changing until either his magic points target is reached or the referees take control. Wycombe only picked up one yellow card for time wasting on Saturday and that came in the eighty-eighth minute. With officials as lax as this it is easy to see why managers employ the tactic.
For the post match thoughts of Gareth Ainsworth click here
Here are the commentary highlights from myself and Keith Scott, courtesy of Keith Cummings
Mobile and tablet version here
I often say on the match commentary that Gareth Ainsworth is kicking every ball on the touchline. I’ll leave you with this photo which is an interesting comparison of technical areas after Saturday’s game at Fratton Park.