As the nights become bleaker, so do the fortunes of Buckinghamshire’s finest football club. Things are better off in League One than this time two seasons ago but the feeling of pessimism is the same. Three league wins provide nine of the club’s thirteen points as they sit second bottom. It is easy to say it should have been more, some performances have been adequate and poor defensive mistakes, plus the lack of clinical finisher have cost Wycombe too often.
But in visits to Tranmere Rovers, Yeovil and Oldham and Conference outfit Fleetwood Town in the F.A Cup, Wycombe seemed to not really bother, with striker Scott Rendell baffling many with his statement saying “they wanted it more.” Is it simply a question of motivation, or are these professional sportsmen funded with the hard earned cash of fanatical football men, women and children just simply not good enough for this level?
The start to the season suggested Wanderers had quality; the side looked strong and capable of putting up a fight. The third game of the season away to Leyton Orient left many supporters full of hope that maybe it might not be quite as difficult in League One this year. The club are not expecting to compete with the big budget sides of the division of course, but perhaps they could match the stature of the Hartlepool’s and Oldham’s, well above Yeovil, Rochdale and Stevenage. The visit of Bournemouth on Saturday is big. Defeat and heavy reflection is required as the team could be bottom of the league and slowly losing ground.
The obvious problem is that Wycombe. Former manager Peter Taylor said he couldn’t bring goals to the Park, Gary Waddock has said the same. The team certainly scored goals in their unsuccessful attempt to beat the drop back to the basement in 2010, the only issue was that until the final month they insisted on allowing the opposition to increase their goals for tally. Last year the goals dried up but the team looked solid, promotion was achieved and everyone was delighted.
What was hard to argue was how to move in the transfer market. Scott Rendell top scored with 19, very good considering injuries and personal circumstances. The issue was his performances did not match his £125,000 price tag and a lot of his goals came from 12 yards and from the same spot. Stuart Beavon was given a contract extension ahead of John Paul Pittman, the right decision. However the club then signed local lad Elliot Benyon on a season long loan, replacing pace, power and a genuine goal threat -and admittedly physio room regular – with a small, slow, low on confidence player who once did form a good partnership with Rendell.
Youth striker Matt McClure has promise and was sent out on loan to build confidence and experience, it started well until injury struck. Joel Grant and Kevin Betsy have both previously played ‘up front’ but there goal records aren’t too impressive either. Up steps youngster, Jordan Ibe. Fifteen years old is incredibly young, but he shone like a beacon last year in the reserves and youth team and began training first team this summer. He’s now been given his chance. He’s got a whole lot to learn obviously but his goal against Sheffield Wednesday proves Wycombe have got something to look forward too.
However does playing a school kid in big fixtures ahead of other strikers not show signs of desperation? He’s clearly talented but at the moment he’s starting, a fifteen year old boy is playing in League One for Wycombe. Not to forget the club’s two other strikers, Ben Strevens and Stuart Beavon, who are probably their best two frontmen, although both are possibly ‘too hard working’ and can end up way out of position leaving opposing defenders marking themselves.
In the away match at Hartlepool they showed an abundance of promise that has since vanished. Beavon has the better first touch of the two and sublime vision, but often his teammates aren’t on the same wavelength. Ben Strevens, when feeling confident is a decent goal poacher at this level but for 85 minutes of the game he will drop too deep, leaving Beavon to work a goal out of nothing – sometimes he can do it but a team cannot rely on the one individual.
Now even the defence is looking weak and the wingers, who looked promising during pre-season do not seem able to consistently supply goals and chances. The middle of the park also has so much potential, but too often have been beaten physically leaving the team open to attack. Nicolas Bignall joined on loan, came on as a substitute against League leaders Charlton Athletic and looked as though he might make a difference, displaying strength, pace and hunger.
However another injury struck and now the Blues are back to their defensive attack, toothless strike force and unproven proven goal scorers, survival should be a breeze, after all it is Wycombe Wanderers.
Written by Cameron Quigley, We Are Going Up’s Wycombe Wanderers Blogger
Cameron tweets at @squigley93