A week that saw two games also witnessed the Wanderers run out of steam. Paul Tisdale triumphed in a tactical battle on Tuesday evening as a leggy Wycombe were caught out by a very direct Exeter City. Gareth Ainsworth was able to name the same defence for the fifteenth consecutive league game for the visit of Dagenham & Redbridge and it looked like normal service had been resumed after a dominant first half display against the Daggers. However, the visitors were woeful in the first period, constantly handing possession back to Wycombe but crucially no advantage was taken. All but one of the many attempts on goal were very comfortable for goalkeeper Mark Cousins.
Wayne Burnett only used five minutes to talk to his side at the break, but whatever he put across it did the trick as the Daggers were unrecognisable early in the second half. Electing to keep the ball on the deck, rather that hoofing it out of play at every given opportunity, Ade Yusuff and Jamie Cureton were able to have an effect on the game. Their breakthrough came on 63 minutes and it was deserved. Damian Batt had cut in and fired a shot moments earlier which was superbly saved by Matt Ingram but it was a warning that went unheeded. Batt was again allowed room down the right, this time cutting the ball back to Yusuff whose shot was blocked but it fell to Cureton who stabbed home from six yards.
This sparked Wycombe back into life, assisted by the Daggers electing to try and shut up shop. The breakthrough came from the head of Peter Murphy after excellent persistence and a fine cross from Sam Wood. With ten minutes left plus stoppage time, Dagenham & Redbridge were there for the taking but like the first half, the Chairboys were not cute enough to breach their defence. However, turning a losing situation into a point late in a game again shows excellent spirit but it will leave Ainsworth scratching his head this week as he ponders turning dominance into goals. The Blues missed two excellent chances at one nil on Tuesday too so it could be argued if they had a clinical poacher they could be five points better off this week. However, proven goalscorers come at a cost so I strongly suspect that the answer will need to be found within.
In my opinion, the most likely solution is Matt McClure. Goalscoring is a confidence game and at the moment he looks a shadow of his former self which is frustrating as Wycombe are creating chances. Last season he did well in a team that often offered very little going forwards, so if he can find his mojo in the current side then the Chairboys could well stick around the upper reaches of the table.
Steven Craig is a player that leaves everything on the pitch and his performance against AFC Wimbledon was superb, creating both goals. However, his last goal from open play came on the 26th November 2013, at home against Exeter City and that was deflected off his posterior. His attitude and work rate is unquestionable so if anyone deserves a purple patch in front of goal it’s Craig.
Aaron Holloway remains an unknown quantity. The young Welshman has displayed flashes of what he is capable of but a historical lack of fitness looks to be the biggest hurdle for him. Missing from the last three match day squads since opening his account in dramatic style against the Cobblers, one can only presume he is injured.
For my post match interview with Gareth Ainsworth, click here.
Here are the commentary highlights from myself and Will Vince. Many thanks to Keith Cummings for the audio.
Mobile & tablet version here
Whilst loitering around the tunnel after the game waiting for Gareth to appear for his post match media duties, I had the pleasure of having a chat with former UK high jumper Dalton Grant (European, Commonwealth champion and three time Olympian). These days he is part of Wayne Burnett’s back room staff, helping the players with biometrics and developing their running style. He was taken into the fold at Dagenham & Redbridge after working one on one with Rakish Bingham (Mansfield Town) , Lawson D’ath (Northampton Town) and Jason Banton (Plymouth Argyle) in pre season. Like Wycombe the Daggers have a very modest budget, it’s interesting to see that both clubs have looked to sports science to keep their small squads in check and with good effect so far. The League Two game is evolving!