Still plenty of room for improvement, says Gary. (©PAphotos)
by Mark White
, read by 360 people.
Wycombe Wanderers remain unbeaten in the league after a second successive goalless draw, this time in the fierce M40 derby at home to Oxford United.
Wanderers have now kept three successive clean sheets to start the season for the first time since 1995; a marked improvement in defensive guile under Gary Waddock. They are now one of only four sides in the Football League yet to concede a goal, as goalkeeper Nikki Bull again took praise for his performance.
Before the game got under way both sets of fans observed a minute's silence for former Wycombe Wanderers’ club secretary, John Goldsworthy, who died last week at the age of 90. The silent respect was fittingly ended with the polar-opposite; as a rupture of noise emerged from the stands to mark the kick-off of this derby clash in typical style.
This truly was a game of two halves, with Wycombe setting the rhythm in the first half, breaking through the U’s defensive guard on several occasions. Matt Phillips had the best chance of the half early on, but he failed to convert a low cross from Jon-Paul Pittman from close range, as he was left unmarked at the back post.
Later in the half Dave Winfield had another opportunity to put the Chairboys 1-0 up, but he only managed to poke the ball into the side netting from a tight six yard angle.
Wycombe’s wastefulness became Oxford’s motivation, as the U’s had the better of the second half – similar to Stockport last weekend – with Matt Green rocketing an effort against the bar in the early stages, and moments later James Constable’s effort was saved at point blank range by the in form Bull in the Wanderers goal.
Wycombe’s best opportunity in the second 45came when Kevin Betsy robbed the ball from Jake Wright on the half-way line, and raced goalwards, only to see his chipped shot narrowly over the bar.
The introduction of Gareth Ainsworth on 57 minutes marked his 500th professional appearance, but could not change the tide of the half, as the Chairboys had Bull to thank yet again after he tipped a fierce drive from Constable onto the bar in spectacular fashion, before saving from Green at close range. Both sides had opportunities to win it in the latter stages, but a draw was a fair result on the balance of play, although Waddock was not happy with just a point:
"The players know my feelings - that wasn't good enough. In this division you've got to dig in and work and get the better of your opposite number but we haven't done that. Teams aren't going to come down here and lay down and die. We're miles better than what we showed."
Despite being undefeated thus far, Wycombe have only won the opening game of the season and are still coming to terms with life back in the basement league. Opposition teams are adapting their style of play to impede the Chairboys rapid attack.
Captain Gareth Ainsworth is well aware of the difficulties Wycombe face when teams come to Adams Park, but believes they can get back to winning ways: "Teams are getting wise and they come to stop us playing," he said.
"We've got great talent in there and we just need to get it out. We know we can pass better than we have done and hopefully this is our bad patch - every team goes through one and hopefully we'll start getting more chances and picking up more points.”
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.