Fan’s View 23/24 – No.37: Wycombe away

Article by Paul Beasley Monday, February 19th, 2024  


Wycombe Wanderers 0 Oxford United 0

Prior to the kick off there was a minute’s applause for Adam Ankers, a 17 year old Wycombe season ticket holder and member of the club’s Foundation U19 team. Earlier this month he suffered a cardiac arrest while playing for the team in a fixture at Henley College and sadly died in hospital. Obviously he was not one of our own but he was one of their own. It didn’t matter either way. For that minute the applause all around Adam’s Park was warm and genuine. It’s a time for reflection. All rivalry, whether of the “derby” variety or not, is temporarily completely forgotten.

The apostrophe for the day was a nice touch. It will be back to Adams Park for their next home game but Adam will be remembered around WWFC.

As I’ve said before, Wycombe is a place I just can’t warm to. I wish I had some evidence to counter the “shithole” song but I’m still looking. Pubs aren’t anything to write home about. The establishment right outside the station is now called The Flint Cottage and to be fair to them they very much cater for away fans. “We provide football away fans with a lively and buzzing atmopshere (sic) before taking on Wycombe Wanderers. Our friendly atmosphere means you can enjoy drinks without hassle before the game. Also, great if you accidentally miss the train back… why not stop back for a drink? We’ll keep you entertained” informs their website. Lots of Oxford fans already in when we entered at mid-day. Real ale wasn’t the best although not undrinkable, served in a handled glass and with the biggest head I’ve seen for many a long day. On request a top up was provided but still ended up less than a full pint.

We moved on to the Rose and Crown in Desborough Road, the only pub in Wycombe listed in the GBG. Walking with us was Deadly heading for the Three Tuns. Used to be a good pub he said. I later saw another Oxford fan who said “Not any more it isn’t”.  

At the Rose and Crown we were met with a sign on the door “Due to licencing we can only admit home fans only”. We had no colours so in we went. It was an okay establishment, the beer was okay but there wasn’t much of a buzz about the place. At the bar I thought I heard a customer say to the landlady (or was it barmaid?) “You’re not letting Oxford fans in are you?” When he was told no “Good” he said. There were two other yellow supporters sat quietly in the corner as we entered. They were only there because the Hour Glass, the nearest pub to the ground, had a rather more strict home fans only policy. As we found out later, the bouncers were only allowing people they didn’t know in if they could show a match ticket for the home sections. “But we’re old” cut no ice.

So after the walk from the centre of Wycombe to Adam’s Park, which wasn’t as far as I’d thought, the last pint was in the tent outside the away end. Quite depressing and that meant we were putting money into the coffers of a rival.

Everyone was being patted down as they entered the stadium. All very functional, not a smile to be had. 

Seats were found at the far end of the stand where we could all sit or be on our feet together not in our allocated seats. Good luck in finding them. There’s only one way in and one way out of that stand and every time I’m there I think about the health and safety aspects of this. The only toilets were down the other end, naturally.

Some 0-0 games have a lot going for them: goalmouth action; keepers making saves; good moves put together; skilful players dribbling past opponents. This one didn’t. It had very little. It was a game that as they say “will not live long in the memory”. It wasn’t a very good quality football match. Neither team was much good although Kieran Sadlier caught the eye a bit for the hosts who were the better team.

We didn’t start playing until about twenty minutes to go and this coincided with the introduction of Billy Bodin for Tyler Goodrham. Josh Murphy had been replaced by Will Goodwin at the break and with both wide men off I was very confused as to what we were trying to do. Truthfully though no-one had done anything attacking wise so on reflection worth trying something else.

What happened was Greg Leigh was now getting forward in the wide position and BB was helping us keep the ball and knock it about. We looked much more comfortable and in control but, truthfully, without really going for it.

The news that Elliott Moore was out caused alarm, particularly against this lot. The size of their centre-halves – giants. One went by the name of Low. Another defender was called Grimmer. One name was a lot more appropriate than the other. Could we defend set pieces?

That we kept a clean sheet for the first time since December 16th has to be a positive. That breeds confidence and Stephan Negru, Moore’s replacement looks more at home in a centre half pairing. We never looked overly exposed in the air but that clean sheet would not have been recorded if Wycombe had been as good at finding the back of the net as they were the side netting.  Or if Bez Lubala had not missed a sitter. Jamie Cummings also had to be on his guard to keep out a couple of efforts with his legs.

We didn’t come as close as they did but near the end Cameron Brannagan had an attempt that nearly went in, Max Stryjek in the Wycombe goal had to bravely slide out to prevent the ball reaching BB for a likely goal and he also had to block another effort close to his post.

Let’s try and do some positives because I think we need them.

Not conceding, obviously.

Not losing at a place where we usually come away with nothing.

Unbeaten in five.

By the week I’m becoming more and more convinced that the standard of L1 this season is lower than it has been for a while. Therefore my thinking that a side that isn’t that great will likely get sixth spot gets stronger. Even fifth place as well perhaps.

Portsmouth are top but some of their fans still seem to have doubts.

Apparently Bolton fans aren’t happy with the way they are playing and saying that they are having some real fluky results. They’re third and if they’d played and won their games in hand would be level on points with Pompey. On Saturday Bolton only drew at home with a Charlton team who are now 15 games without a win.

Second placed Derby had to wait until the 90th minute of the match with Stevenage to get the only goal. That did us a favour because Steve Evans’ men are now three points behind us but still, of course, with a game in hand.

The other two teams above us are Barnsley and Peterborough. The Tykes are four points ahead with a game in hand. They’re on very good form. Of the last 16 they’ve won nine, drawn six and lost just one. Peterborough on the other hand are in freefall, losing the last four. They lost 3-2 at home to Wigan. We beat the Latics 4-2. They lost 5-2 at Wycombe which indicates our defence is better than theirs. And on Saturday Blackpool won at London Road. A week earlier we got a point at Bloomfield Road.

The Tangerines, in eighth position, are trying to come through from the pack but have only collected five points from their last five games.

Get our game together, hit some decent form and there shouldn’t be too much to fear. We’re hoping to have Kyle Edwards available for the final push and there’s a bloke called Marcus Browne still on the books. We’ve only seen just over an hour’s worth of Will Goodwin so too early to form an opinion but for what we’ve paid he must have something that will take us forward otherwise it will be a big transfer boo-boo.

Our next visitors, Northampton, beat Bristol Rovers on Saturday but prior to that only picked up one point from four games. Two of those though were against Bolton and Pompey.

It might not be the most challenging L1 we’ve encountered but there are still “no easy games”. Same applies to the Cobblers. Our fixture at Sixfields was another where we put on a poor display and rightly came away with nothing but I still think we owe them for their winner in the 90+7th minute.

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