Poor Dale home form continues as Knight strikes
Date published: 23 February 2008
Wycombe Wanderers 1 (Knight 13)
An early goal from Leon Knight gave Wycombe a narrow win to boost their play-off credentials and dent Rochdale's.
Rochdale were left frustrated after dominating possession in both halves but without ever really troubling Frank Fielding in the Wycombe goal.
Rochdale manager Keith Hill looked to shake things up in the second half with the introduction of Adam Le Fondre and Kallum Higginbotham. The reward should have been instant but Le Fondre squandered the best chance of the game a minute after coming on. Adam Rundle charged down Russell Martin’s clearance and the ball broke for Le Fondre to go one-on-one with Fielding. The striker failed to compose himself for the finish, blazing high and wide.
Le Fondre nearly rescued a point with a superb late effort. The striker controlled Higginbotham’s cross and hit a volley on the turn that just missed the upright with Fielding beaten.
Higginbotham and Jones both went close in the second half, while Dale were denied a penalty in the first half when Will Buckley appeared to be brought down in the box. The referee gave the foul but deemed it to have taken place on the edge of the box.
Rochdale huffed and puffed but never really did enough to score against a well drilled Wycombe outfit who earned a classic snatch and grab away win by scoring early and then defending resolutely.
It was all Rochdale after Wycombe had opened the scoring but the visitors had enjoyed a bright opening. James Spencer was forced into a good early save when he kept out Scott McGleish’s close range effort after Marcus Holness had inexplicably left the ball in the thought that it was running out of play.
Questions might have been raised over Spencer’s positioning when Knight scored the only goal of the game. Knight received Russell Martin’s pass with his back to goal and produced a nice turn and neat finish, low at the near post, but Spencer should perhaps have narrowed the angle.
Keith Hill said after his side’s fourth home defeat in succession: “It’s left me very frustrated and the pressure could get to the lads if we don’t win soon. If we don’t win our home matches we will not achieve our goals this season.
“After fifteen minutes the game was over. They got the goal and sat behind the ball. Today was very chaotic for us, we did not make good football decisions.
“We’ve got Chesterfield at home next week and I think we should ask for it to be away!”
Wycombe boss Paul Lambert did not find too many positives from the game, but the three points was obviously the major plus. He said: “Rochdale were the home team so they were going to make the running and it is up to them to break us down. We came under pressure in the second half and we defended resolutely.”
“They had chances. We have had games like that ourselves and at the end of the day you have to put the ball in the net.”
The game became heated at times during the second half and Wycombe’s Tommy Doherty was perhaps fortunate to remain on the pitch after bringing down David Perkins from behind on the edge of the box having already been booked.
This fired up the home support and boosted Dale’s search for the equaliser but the fans would ultimately leave the ground disappointed. The build-up to the game centred on the club’s attempts to get more fans into Spotland for the Chesterfield game next Saturday by handing out £10 entry vouchers before the start of this fixture. However, there is no incentive to attend games like the product on the pitch and the results are just not coming for them at home.
They played a lot of good football in areas around the Wycombe box but there was a distinct lack of penetration and by the end of the game they had only registered two attempts on target and both were easily dealt with by Fielding in goal.
There were numerous efforts that went narrowly wide but target practice will probably be high on Keith Hill’s list of priorities for training sessions this week.
In the first half a well-struck Rene Howe free kick took multiple deflections before going out for a corner while Buckley fired narrowly past the far post from a tight angle after muscling his way through to goal. Then the exciting prospect Buckley finished weakly after good link up play involving Rundle and Jones.
Rochdale: Spencer, Ramsden, Holness, McArdle, Kennedy, Muirhead (Higginbotham 51), Jones, Perkins, Rundle (Doolan 68), Howe, Buckley (Le Fondre 51).
Subs not used: Rigby, Stanton.
Wycombe: Fielding, Martin, McCracken, Johnson, Woodman, Bloomfield, Lennon, Doherty, Torres (Williamson 46), Knight (Sutton 80), McGleish.
Subs not used: Young, Bullock, Boucaud.
Booked: Doherty, Sutton.
Attempts (on target): Rochdale 12 (2) Wycombe 5 (3)
Freekicks: Rochdale 22 Wycombe 16
Offside: Rochdale 5 Wycombe 6
Corners: Rochdale 5 Wycombe 1
Referee: G Laws.
Match photographs to follow.
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