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Blues sink without a trace
DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE 3, WANDERERS 0.
BLUES' renewed sense of optimism was doused in reality at Victoria Road this afternoon.
Dagenham & Redbridge were one of only three League Two sides still waiting for a victory at 3pm today, but they brushed Wanderers aside in a 3-0 win that could easily have been more.
It was a dire start for new caretaker boss Gareth Ainsworth, and the question for Wanderers fans has to be, where now?
A string of listless defeats were laid at the door of Gary Waddock and he was duly sacked last week.
The effervescent Ainsworth was ushered in to replace him as much for his sabre-rattling qualities as anything else, and to that end the move worked.
Wanderers ran hard for their new boss and the away support roared them on magnificently throughout the game.
But the brutal truth is the players were nowhere near good enough.
They were well-beaten by the team ranked 90th out of the 92 League clubs, and no amount of arm-waving and fist-pumping will change that.
Wanderers claimed they'd received about 40 'high calibre' applications for the manager's vacancy. Some of those might have been withdrawn after this, but whoever gets the job has a monumental task ahead of them after a match that revealed just how much work it will take to save Blues this season.
Ainsworth the Unifier set the mood immediately by bringing every playing member of the club to East London, with about two dozen Wanderers sitting next to the away fans in the stand behind keeper Jorden Archer's goal.
The player manager himself received a rapturous reception from the Blue army as he led his team out of the tunnel, which won't have gone unnoticed by the watching Keith Scott, but the bright mood turned out to be yet another false dawn.
The home side might not have won in the league yet this season, but they set about Wanderers from the first whistle and without creating anything put Ainsworth's men under intense pressure all over the pitch.
To Blues' credit, they were doing their best to match Daggers' work-rate and actually created the first two chances of the game.
Olly Turner had the first, swivelling in the area before firing a low shot into a defenders legs after 12 minutes, and with 25 minutes gone Dean Morgan's curling free-kick was tipped onto a post by Chris Lewington.
But those efforts came from rare forays into enemy territory, and for the most part Daggenham's long ball tactics were as effective as they were ugly.
Time and again in the first half hour Wanderers had to back-peddle to deal with balls behind or over them, and it's not surprising that one of these led to the opener after 25 minutes.
It was a lofted ball out the back that led to a Dagenham free-kick 30 yards out, and Blues couldn't deal with it.
They'd been warned. After 12 minutes a set-piece from almost the exact area caught Wycombe sleeping and Sam Williams, unmarked at the back post, should have tapped in from close range.
He was caught on his heels that time, but the Blues backline didn't learn and when the opportunity presented itself again his firm header was rifling in until Jorden Archer stuck out an arm to make a reflex stop.
Dwight Gayle was on hand to tap into an empty net though, and 1-0 nearly became 2-0 a moment later when Gayle again beat his marker to a cross.
This time Archer got down well to his toe-poked effort, and although Wanderers roused themselves with a Matt Spring effort well saved, it was the hosts who finished the half strongly and twice could have extended their lead.
Ainsworth introduced Matt McClure for Taylor during the break, and the young striker could have had an instant impact when the ball bounced his way near the penalty spot just seconds after the restart.
It sat up perfectly, but his volley went slicing away towards the corner flag It proved to be Wanderers' last real hope in the match.
Ten minutes later Michael Spillane made it 2-0 from the spot after Danny Foster was adjudged to have handled the ball, and Blues never really hinted at picking themselves up after that.
In fact, Spillane, Billy Bingham, Gayle and Sam Williams all had good opportunities to make it 3-0 before Bingham finally did with just two minutes left.