Wycombe Wanderers 0, Coventry City 1.
WANDERERS were eliminated from a cup competition at the first round stage for the second time this season as they were beaten by Coventry City in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
In truth it was rough justice on Blues as an admittedly well-taken goal from Josh McQuoid settled things in City’s favour in a match Wanderers had the better of.
Several good chances were spurned both before and after the goal as Wycombe exited the competition at the hands of a side from a higher division.
Everything went right from a Blues perspective until they got into the penalty area, with a shot or header at goal all too often going high, wide or straight into the keeper’s arms.
Coventry only had three clear chances in the whole game; aside from the one they took they were victims of a goalline clearance and the crossbar being struck as they proved to be more clinical than their hosts.
A Wanderers side boasting five changes from the side that drew at York on Saturday controlled the game from the off with Matt McClure – one of the players restored to the starting line-up – showing a sublime touch to control the ball and spin away from his marker after collecting Joe Jacobson’s through pass before feeding Max Kretzschmar, whose shot lacked the power to test Lee Burge in the visiting goal.
Wanderers pressed early on as Aaron Holloway, making his first-ever start for the club, looped a header from Sido Jombati’s cross into Burge’s gloves and Kretzschmar’s free kick from 25 yards rose high over the crossbar.
Holloway was involved again as his flick from a clever Matt Bloomfield pass sent his strike partner McClure clear of the Coventry defence, but he pulled his effort disappointingly across the face of goal and out.
Little was seen of the City attack or the referee’s vanishing spray to mark out the ten yards at a free kick, and from Jacobson’s left wing set piece delivery Kretzschmar wasn’t able to get over the ball and glanced a header high into the stand.
Ironically the clearest chance of the first half went to the visitors on their first entry into the Blues’ penalty area and only a wonderful lunging goalline clearance from Aaron Pierre prevented City from taking the lead as Danny Swanson danced forward unchallenged before allowing Mohamed Coulibaly the chance to have a first-time shot that went through Matt Ingram’s legs before being cleared.
The hosts continued to have a stranglehold on the midfield and they wasted two chances in a minute as Bloomfield’s daisycutter after a one-two with McClure was stopped low down by Burge before McClure got in on the act himself to fire over.
Kretzschmar nicked possession off Jordan Willis as the full back slipped over and sent the ball into the area for Holloway to intelligently chest down into the path of Stuart Lewis, who was next to send another good opening too high.
McClure’s header following good work down the left involving Bloomfield, Kretzschmar and Jacobson in the left corner didn’t drop quickly enough and landed behind the goal, before Coventry broke quickly and again managed to beat Ingram as McQuoid bent a shot from Swanson’s pass over the Wycombe keeper but could only look on in anguish as it smacked against the crossbar.
And Wanderers were disappointed not to be in front at the interval as further chances came and went; McClure turned and shot into the side netting and Lewis scuffed wide, prompting boos of derision from the sizeable visiting contingent.
The half time break failed to galvanise the Sky Blues into action as their defence continually struggled to clear their lines and the attack and midfield were all too often beaten to the loose balls as Wanderers retained their self belief.
Yet it was Blues boss Gareth Ainsworth who played his hand first, replacing both his strikers as McClure and Holloway made way for Steven Craig and Paris Cowan-Hall.
Within minutes of the second change however City hit Wanderers on the break and took the lead. With Bloomfield off the pitch receiving treatment for a cut head, a huge gap opened up down the left which Danny Pugh hared into before motoring down the flank and putting in a wicked low cross that McQuoid crashed into the roof of the net from six yards.
Blues responded as Lewis hooked wide after Cowan-Hall burrowed his way into the area from Jombati’s throw in and Burge was swiftly off his line to save at Bloomfield’s feet as he looked to collect a disguised pass from Danny Rowe.
They came ever closer to drawing level as Pierre powered a header from a Kretzschmar corner against the woodwork and Cowan-Hall’s weak effort was blocked by Willis.
The imposing figure of Pierre was causing City a headache at every set piece and the defender rumbled forward for another set piece and was first to the ball again but this time sent it just wide of the upright.
Cowan-Hall skewed a header wide and Jomabti’s firm headed effort from an inswinging Jacobson free kick was blocked on the line as Wanderers were ultimately unable to claw themselves back into the game.
Wanderers: Ingram, Jombati, Pierre, Mawson, Jacobson, Rowe, Bloomfield, Lewis, Kretzschmar, McClure (sub Craig), Holloway (sub Cowan-Hall). Substitutes not used: Richardson, Walker, Wood.