That’s the thing about supporting a League One team isn’t it? You take the highs with the lows. And last night was very much a low, especially after the euphoria of Saturday as United came crashing back down to earth with a bump.
United need two points to guarantee safety, even though it’s pretty much a certainty at this point, so Bonner took the opportunity to experiment with the side, dropping Knibbs, Brophy and Smith for Ben Worman, Jack Lankester and the returning Jack Iredale after a long injury lay-off.
We won’t go too much into this, but in hindsight it was clearly a mistake – Wycombe are a dogged, physical team with strength up front and at the back teamed up with some fairly decent players in other positions. The gulf between them – genuine playoff contenders – and Ipswich, also-rans, was clear to see.
Wycombe held nothing back from the off, testing United’s goal with numerous long shots and it was from one of these that they opened the scoring, the ball rebounding off the post straight to the feet of Sam Vokes who won’t score an easier goal all season. It was Vokes again in the second half who was alert to a nice cross in to the box and jumped to steer the ball past Dimi Mitov.
Wycombe’s third came from another long shot, and by this point they’d also hit the post three more times, before Bonner made some much needed changes, the three dropped players replacing Iredale, Worman and Lankester.
These changes had an impact almost immediately as Knibbs got on the end of an Ironside flick on to put the ball through the keepers legs, but United still didn’t seem to have much sense of urgency about them, and Wycombe punished the U’s once again with another long shot this time from the impressive Garath McCleary with moments left.
So let’s look at that team selection then. On one hand – nows the time to experiment, safety all but assured and looking to get minutes into younger players who haven’t had much of a chance all season. On the other – Wycombe are exactly the kind of team you need some stability against. We know how Ainsworth plays, we never seem to beat them and now’s not the time to put in bodies who aren’t ready.
We’ll excuse Iredale for his slow start to the game, he’s been out a long time and has been a standout performer this season. Worman too, he’s only young and he did his best against a vastly more experienced midfield. Lankester puzzles me though – he’s undoubtably got talent and we see it in flashes, but he never seems to do quite enough to hold down a first team place. On last nights showing he’s done little to show why he deserves to start over Knibbs in the number 10 role.
So all in all a bad day at the office, and a timely reminder that we are still firmly a mid-table League One team. It wasn’t all terrible though, we had a few chances, and Knibbs is continuing to look like a decent player with a well taken goal (we’ll forgive him for missing the target just before), but there’s a bit of work to be done before we can rest easy this season and consolidate as a League One team for next year. That said, it’s been a rollercoaster of a season so far, with amazing highs (Portsmouth, Newcastle, Ipswich away) and some fairly big lows (Lincoln at home, MK Dons away, lasts night), but that’s all part of the fun isn’t it?
Man of the Match: Erm, I dunno, Dimi didn’t have much chance with any of the goals and stopped the score being higher. Knibbs had a good cameo when he came on so probably him then.
Soundtrack of the Match: David Bowie – Space Oddity