March 09, 2014

As I Seen It - Wycombe (a)

POOLS SUCCUMB TO WYCOMBE 

Wycombe 2 Pools 1,   League 2  Saturday March 8th 2014

Match report by BILL THE BIRO at Adams Park

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I’ve been to Adams Park many times, it being one of my more local jaunts at 70 miles each way. Thus knowing the ropes, I avoided the club car park, which is at the end of an industrial estate and can take more than half an hour to escape. So I availed myself of a factory car park, carefully chosen for a quick exit.

This match came on the day after I finally retired after talking about it for years, so I thought I'd go mad and hang the expense. So, not really needing a drink, I went into the Hour Glass for a pint anyway. And being an inverted snob about football, I chose a seat under the TV so I wouldn't have to look at whatever Premiership match was on. However, as I got up to leave, I did look up at the screen, only long enough to see which match it was, and saw a cross put into West Brom's net by Wayne Rooney. I thought this might be an omen. On the way out I saw there was another TV showing a different match, and as I was passing Arsenal scored against Everton. I thought this might be another omen - two teams in red scoring against teams in blue (Wycombe play in Blue so we'd be in red).

So, arriving at the ground, I decided to splash out and buy a programme - you only retire once (well some people do) and - they were giving them away free! I thought that was another omen.

Adams Park humour - defaced blackboard
Wycombe wit!
Having paid full price two weeks ago at Northampton because their age limit was 65 when I was one week short, I was a bit miffed to find that Wycombe's age limit for senior tickets is only 60.

Once inside, having ensured I had my Bizz cap because the away end faces the setting sun (which was a problem for us Poolies here at about the same time last season), I discovered they were no longer using the "away end", but instead we were put at the adjacent end of a side stand, which if anything made the sun even more of a problem.

Unlike most grounds, where they create a no-man's land between fans by putting a tarpaulin over a block of seats, Wycombe were a bit more trusting. Their barrier consisted only of a polythene tape without a no-man's land, so that fans of either side could punch each other over the tape were they so disposed. That there was not a hint of trouble may justify the arrangements on this occasion, but it was a bit unusual.

The last couple of rows of seats on the other side of the tape barrier comprised a press box, identifiable more by its laptops than any form of structure around it, and there on the end, next to the barrier ribbon, was Bill Turnbull (of BBC Breakfast TV and Strictly Come Dancing fame), who was obviously doing some radio commentary (the earphones gave it away).

Here’s the view from my seat, showing the Wycombe pressbox. Bill Turnbull is sat on the end of the back row. The barrier dividing the home and away fans is bottom left and the free match programme is top left. The belly can only marginally be attributed to Wycombe’s pies!
Having my camera with me, and having on previous visits seen loads of red kites drifting around over Adams Park (in these parts they are as common as pigeons), I was disappointed to not see any all day.

"As usual Colin Cooper left it too late for his substitutions to have much effect."
Anyway, the match got started with Pools fielding an unchanged team. As at Northampton a few weeks earlier, another player was injured and had to be substituted in the first few minutes, this time not a Pools player. The first half was pretty even and entertaining, with Wycombe looking better than their league position. Pools were looking better than at Northampton, but there was lethargy in places, and Harewood was fairly immobile.

Towards half time a dogged solo effort from the wing, dodging quite a few tackles on the way, resulted in a goal for Jack Barmby that took Pools into a half-time lead.

The second half provided the expected Wycombe pressure which, combined with Pools' deficiencies in some areas, enabled Wycombe to equalise and then score what would be the winner. As usual Colin Cooper left it too late for his substitutions to have much effect.

The players: Flinders was ok and pulled off one superb save. Richards was good, especially going forward, Holden less so. Sam and Burgess were good, as usual. Walton was his usual good/bad/stroppy self and his attitude to the ref could easily have turned his yellow card into a red. Again Ronaldo showed both his promise and his youth. I hope I'll be able to see him when he's twenty.

Luke was Luke, but needed someone to help him, not a plank. Sadly Harewood provided very little.

At one point Luke went sliding in, inside the box, and took out two defenders. Luke got up straight away, but both of them needed attention. Monky was always trying to get things going, but Barmby's performance was more fits and starts.

In the end it was probably a fair result.

After the match my choice of car park was vindicated by a quick getaway to the M40, but, as is customary in such losing situations, no interest in hearing the football results.