A fiercely contested match at Broadhall Way failed to produce a goal but it was an entertaining game with both sides creating chances.
The Chairboys thought they had scored in the first half when goalkeeper, Scott Brown, launched a long free kick into the penalty area which somehow eluded Stevenage stopper Joe Fryer, only to be heroically cleared off the line by a heavily bandaged Ron Henry.
Several Wycombe players were convinced the ball had crossed the line but the referee waved play on and the Chairboys finished the half strongly after what had been a slow start to the game.
The second half was dominated by Wycombe, especially after the introduction of Sam Saunders and Nathan Tyson, who replaced a quiet Eberechi Eze and an industrious Nick Freeman.
Adebayo Akinfenwa was still not 100 per cent fit but nearly broke the deadlock late in the second half with a clever back header that struck the base of the post.
After the game, I spoke with the Wycombe Wanderers manager, Gareth Ainsworth:
It’s getting closer, the excitement is building and I for one cannot wait.
No, I’m not talking about Christmas, I’m referring to Marcus Bean’s first goal for Wycombe Wanderers.
If you go along to most of the games or tune into the commentaries, you cannot have failed to notice that the combative midfielder has been notching up the efforts on goal this season.
After 81 appearances so far for the Chairboys, Beany is overdue a goal and I think it will be ajust reward for his excellent form this season so far.
However, he is not here to put the ball in the back of the net. Protecting the back four, breaking up play and turning possession over is a vital cog in any team.
Of course, the whole team defend as a unit but the statistics this season spell out that when Marcus Bean plays in the EFL, Wycombe normally concede fewer goals than when he doesn’t.
Claude Makele made this role fashionable and was so good at it, the position took his name.
I checked out his statistics for his time at Chelsea and found thatMakele scored only twice in 191 appearances for The Blues.
Steffen Freund was the hugely popular midfield enforcer at Tottenham and never scored for them.
Every time he got the ball in the opposition half, most of White Hart Lane screamed for him to shoot.
I’ve noticed that this has started happening to Beany with the excellent Chairboys away following.
At Solihull recently, the cries of “shoooooot” were distinctly audible and nearly paid off: Bean found a yard in the penalty area, only to shoot narrowly past the post.
As a commentator, I’m feeling the pressure of this situation. When the goal comes (not if, when), I have to make sure that I somehow find the words to do the moment justice.
Perhaps I’ll go full Icelandic commentator? Or maybe I should just follow the example of Beany himself…
I’ve nowhad the pleasure of Marcus’ company a few times in the commentary box, on the odd occasion of him being injured or suspended, but the first time remainsthe most memorable for me.
It was an FA Cup tie at Millwall and the Match Of The Day editor had sent me a text in the morning explaining that if Wycombe pulled off an upset and won, they would use my goal commentary on that evening’s programme.
“Wow”, I thought to myself. I’d only been doing this commentary lark for five minutes and I might get on MOTD?!
Wycombe duly obliged with an injury time winner from Michael Harriman, and I floated out of The New Den after the game.
I soon crashed back down to earth on the platform at Bermondsey station.
A text message arrived from MOTD: “Who was your summariser today?
“He’s screamed YEEEAAAAHHH right across your commentary and it’s unusable, we’ll have to use the BBC London one instead.”
Denied a moment of glory by Marcus Bean.
Now I know what it must feel like to play against him on a Saturday.
The up and down of form of Wycombe Wanderers is certainly a head scratcher this season.
It was not that long ago at all when great records were falling.
Best unbeaten run for over ten years, longest consecutive scoring run since the late eighties and somewhere along the line the Chairboys equalled their consecutive win tally too.
Yet if the Blues succumb to a defeat against Accrington Stanley (if the weather permits the game to go ahead), it will equal the worst run of back to back defeats (six) in the Football League ever for Wycombe, a record set in April 2006.
This is the question that is raging around the stands and bars at Adams Park, social media and forums.
Fatigue since the cup exploits against Tottenham Hotspur and Checkatrade Trophy run?
A gruelling sequence of six uninterrupted Tuesday night away games?
Injuries to key players?
Silly mistakes and missed chances?
Key decisions going against Wycombe?
It may well be a combination of all of these things.
Perhaps a touch of bad luck too, with defeats against Colchester and Crawley coming from two world class strikes that certainly do not happen every week in League Two.
The wretched performance at Stevenage aside, all of the games lost have been tight affairs, with the fourth goal away at Exeter coming very late on with players committing themselves forwards to force an equaliser.
Looking back a bit further to the winning run, these matches were all pretty tight too in the league with a couple of 2-0 wins being the most comfortable results in the sequence.
This pretty much sums up League Two for me this season.
Wycombe have certainly lost the winning habit of late and Gareth will have to rediscover it without the immediate help of Pierre, Stewart, Kashket and Hayes, all potential game changers who are currently injured.
Here is what Gareth had to say to me on BBC3CR after the defeat at home to Crawley Town…
Off the field, it certainly has been a successful season for the Chairboys with the lucrative cup runs.
However, the fans do not want to see a repeat to the end of last season which ended with a whimper and a mid table finish.
The sticky patch that Wycombe currently find themselves in has seen them drop to eleventh in the table but still only four points off the play off positions.
With thirty-nine points still to play for and twenty-four of those to be contested at Adams Park, all is still to play for… COYB!
A new season. Renewed hope, fresh faces, a new kit and as always, plenty to discuss.
The end of the last campaign really felt like a hard slog with the gruelling schedule taking it’s toll on a small and injury hit squad. Walking back into Adams Park last night though, there was a real buzz of anticipation about the place. Whispers of sell on clauses, identities of trialists, sightings of The Beast and actually being able to see and purchase club merchandise before the opening day of the season. Wycombe Wanderers are getting their mojo back.
The 1-1 draw against Brentford was as entertaining as a pre season friendly could be, played out in very hot conditions with a few mystery faces on the pitch. A welcome goal from Dayle Southwell and an impressive first half from Myles Weston were big positives for the Chairboys and there is still much more to come. At least one goalkeeper will need to be secured, trialists have earned more time to impress and following guidance from the FA, Adebayo Akinfenwa’s home debut will probably be against QPR on Friday.
The new rules concerning loans this season are undoubtedly going to add to the usual madness of pre season with all business having to be concluded by the end of August. After that, it’s make do with what you have until the window is reopened once again in January. With Wycombe running a small squad, this adds another dimension to the decisions that Gareth Ainsworth must make on players and also when he does so. I caught up with him after the game for a chat about these very things…
I also took the opportunity for a chat with new striker Dayle Southwell. On first impression, he looks to be an excellent addition to the squad, both on and off the field. As I have been away for most of the Summer I had some catching up to do and Dayle very kindly entertained my lazy Jamie Vardy comparison…
Well. Who would have thought a long trip to Plymouth would have resulted in a former Pilgrim scoring from a set piece to claim all three points against high flying Argyle? Even under a different manager, the same defensive frailties were still evident against the Chairboys, as the home side failed to deal with a poorly delivered early corner. And after an almighty scramble in the box, it was Gozie Ugwu who triumphantly rose from the mud to celebrate a much needed strike which he will hope can kick start a run of goals.
Before the game, I enjoyed a chat with a friend who is a season ticket holder at Home Park. As you could only expect from a football fan of a team riding high in the league, his glass was very much half empty. His main concerns were that Wycombe would press the Plymouth midfield high up the pitch and disrupt the flow of the game as in his opinion, that would be how to stop them from playing their game. How right he was!
Armed with an early lead to defend, the Chairboys slowed the pace of the game down at every opportunity and made it a real war of attrition, aided by the combination of a dreadful pitch and an immobile referee in Philip Gibbs. Even with the early loss of young goalkeeper Alex Lynch to injury, resulting in forty six year old coach Barry Richardson going in goal, Wycombe looked comfortable. The only scare for the visitors came near the end of the first half, after Reuben Reid escaped through on goal and appeared to be fouled by Jason McCarthy. Nothing was given however by a referee who struggled to keep a lid on this feisty affair. Shortly afterwards, the board went up to signal the amount of time to be added on to compensate for the Wycombe players receiving treatment. Five minutes! The Argyle manager, Derek Adams, was furious at this and berated the fourth official to such an extent, Gibbs had to come over to placate the Scotsman. After a short conversation, the board was held aloft once more and proudly displayed nine minutes (a reverse Dolly Parton), although at least one of those extra minutes was used up by Gibbs to transport himself from the centre circle to the touchline and back.
The second half saw Argyle throw everything at Wycombe. I expected the introduction of the excellent Graham Carey at the start of the second half to change the game, but despite some early pressure, the visitors stood firm. Centre backs, McCarthy and Aaron Pierre were superb and in front of them, the returning defensive midfielder Marcus Bean was immense. As the Pilgrims committed more players forward, it was Wycombe who looked the more likely to score as the game came to an end, lighting the blue touch paper in the technical areas on the final whistle…
Click here to listen to Wycombe Wanderers manager, Gareth Ainsworth, talking to me on BBC Three Counties after the game.
And to read the post match thoughts of Plymouth Argyle manager, Derek Adams, click here.
The story of the day though was undoubtedly the Wycombe Wanderers debut of Barry Richardson. At the age of forty six, Richardson became the oldest player to represent the Chairboys in the Football League, beating Rob Lee by over six years. I caught up with Barry after the game…