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Woeful Blues sunk at the seaside
Southend United 1, Wycombe Wanderers 0.
A STUART Beavon-less Wanderers were sunk by Southend as a shocking first half display saw them condemned to another defeat.
Blues sold their top scorer to Preston late last night but even with him on the field they would have struggled to get anything from this game after a lifeless showing.
One goal was all it took to beat them as the home keeper wasn’t required to make a save throughout the entire 90 minutes.
An early goal from Britt Assombalonga settled it and Wanderers never looked like they were going to recover from that despite improving after the break.
Southend, beaten in the League Two play-offs last year, were well worth their win as they comfortably saw off Blues despite not having to get out of second gear.
Wanderers have only kept three clean sheets in 2012 and it took just seven minutes for their defence to be breached once again. Once again it came from a corner as Ryan Cresswell’s initial effort was cleared off the line by Matt Spring and Assombalonga reacted quickest to bundle home the loose ball with the Wanderers defence statuesque.
Heads immediately dropped among the visiting players, who might have taken the lead inside two minutes after debutant Matt Parsons played a great ball in to Dennis Oli, who slipped it inches the wrong side of the post.
That proved to be a false dawn as, aside from a few skilful runs from Parsons, that was all the visiting fans had to cheer as Wanderers put in a lacklustre first half performance.
Panicked clearances were punted aimlessly away, the service in to Oli and Richard Logan was non existent and the defence struggled to cope with the lively Assombalonga, as the Watford loanee was pulled up for offside just as he burst through and chipped the ball over Nikki Bull and into the net.
The visiting defence parted from a speculative throw in from Luke Prosser and invited room for a shot from John Spicer, which was dragged wide from the edge of the box as nobody in a lime green Wanderers shirt was prepared to take command of the situation.
It was left to Parsons to take the game by the scruff of the neck and after a mazy run past three players his invited cross was desperately hacked to safety by Cresswell with Richard Logan looking odds on to score.
Southend looked nothing special but could have doubled their lead when firstly former Blues loanee Anthony Straker had his header turned around the post by a good Bull save, then when Cresswell lost his marker from the resulting corner and put it just off target.
The shocking first half showing prompted Gary Waddock to make a change at half time, with Jo Kuffour replacing the anonymous Logan, and his presence opened the room for Spring to blaze over the bar.
It never looked like troubling Shrimpers keeper Cameron Belford, and the resulting goalkick he had to take was the most strenuous thing he had to do all afternoon. From there Southend almost doubled the lead as a collision between two Blues players let in Spicer, but the midfielder was denied by a good Bull save after easily shrugging off Adam Thompson’s weak challenge.
Blues improved but that wasn’t saying much after their first half display, as any shots they did have were closed down early on at source, which was usually outside the penalty area.
The defence continued to be open and generous as Blues again switched off at a throw in and Bull had to make an acrobatic stop to keep out another Spicer effort.
Player-coach Gareth Ainsworth was introduced from the bench in a final throw of the dice from Waddock, and within seconds of him entering the fray Blues had a half chance as Parsons’ cross eluded Kuffour but was cleared by Cresswell before it could reach Joel Grant.
The winger then cut inside and beat his man but his shot was always curling away from goal, but it was a token effort as Wanderers’ players seemed accepting of their fate.
Decent runs from Ainsworth, Grant and Kuffour resulted in openings that weren’t converted as Southend were able to see out the game untroubled.
They should have added to their total in time added on as Assombalonga, Spicer and Gavin Tomlin all toyed with the visiting defence before Tomlin shanked his shot off target.
Wanderers: Bull, Thompson, Stewart (sub Johnson), Doherty, Basey, Grant, Spring, Lewis, Parsons, Oli (sub Ainsworth), Logan (sub Kuffour). Substitutes not used: Dunne, Angol, Kewley-Graham, Harrison.
Attendance: 4,787 (Wycombe 351)