By Mike Glenister
A missed penalty cost Wycombe dear as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at home to Bournemouth.
Grant Basey cleared off the line early on from Wes Fogden and it set the tone for the opening stages as Bournemouth created the best of the chances and eventually opened the scoring as Marc Pugh met a back post cross to fire home.
Joel Grant gave the Blues a life-line on 35 minutes as he tricked a path into the box before being hauled down. Stuart Beavon stepped up to take the spot kick but saw the ball fly despairingly over the bar as luck evaded the Blues yet again this season.
Following last week's disappointing defeat away to Fleetwood in the FA Cup, James Tunnicliffe stepped into the backline to replace the suspended Dave Winfield. Jordon Ibe returned to the starting eleven, although fellow youngster Kadeem Harris remained on the bench. Meanwhile, the returning Stuart Beavon partnered Jordon Ibe in attack and Matt Bloomfield returned to the midfield in place of Scott Donnelly as Gary Waddock shuffled the pack in search of a win.
Wanderers enjoyed a solid start and registered the first meaningful strike of the game on 5 minutes as Struart Beavon found space outside the box but saw his long range effort blocked. For a moment the ball seemed to spin into the path of strike partner Ben Strevens but he found himself offside.
Moments later the Blues found themselves on the back foot as a Bournemouth attack caused panic in the backline. After Nikki Bull was forced to shut down the onrushing Wes Thomas, Grant Basey was eventually called on to make a vital goal-line clearance as Fogden took aim at the top corner.
Danger loomed again on 15 minutes as Nikki Bull dived down sharply to his left to deny Marc Pugh who found himself in a one-on-one against James Tunnicliffe before looking to steer an effort into the bottom corner.
The chances continued to come for the Cherries as central defender Adam Barrett headed narrowly wide from a corner on the Bournemouth right.
As the Blues looked to press forward and assert themselves on the game, Bournemouth seized the opportunity to break with devastating effect. With the Wycombe midfield pushed high up the field, Bournemouth found space and spread the ball wide to Wes Fogden who provided an inch perfect ball to the back post for Marc Pugh. Despite the best efforts of Nikki Bull, the ball found the back of the net to put the Blues behind again at home after just 23 minutes.
Shortly afterward the home side were given their chance to turn the tide of the match. Joel Grant cut inside from the right and his slick footwork got the better of the Bournemouth full-back who subsequently brought the tricky winger down inside the area. Top-scorer Stuart Beavon stepped up to take the spot-kick in front of the travelling support and they gleefully welcomed the ball into the Dreams Stand as Beavon fired over the bar.
Not to be deterred, the Blues continued to press forward with the backing of a now vociferous home support. Despite their efforts, however, they struggled to test Darryl Flahavan in the Bournemouth goal.
Instead a long-range effort from Bournemouth's Harry Arter flew wide of the post on 41 minutes before the Blues rallied again going into half-time. Inside stoppage time Ben Strevens burst in behind the Bournemouth backline. Needing to cut inside, Strevens was thwarted by the backtracking Barrett who did well to force the ball behind.
The resulting corner saw Wycombe pack the area and deliver a ball right into the six yard box. Under intense pressure Flahavan was forced to use his hands for the first time to punch the ball away from right underneath the bar.
Just a minute into the second half he was tested again as Jordon Ibe looked to exploit a wet surface by firing in low from 25 yards. Flahavan held comfortably.
Wycombe weren't able to sustain the pressure though and a deft passing move saw Bournemouth break through the home defence on 50 minutes. Only a magnificent sliding tackle from Leon Johnson cleared the danger and prevented Wes Thomas from going one-on-one with Nikki Bull.
Thomas was again the dangerman for the visitors just minutes later. An excellent ball down the line evaded the lunging interception of James Tunnicliffe and only good pressure from Leon Johnson again denied the striker a clean effort on goal. Thomas squeezed an effort into the near post, which Bull parried behind.
Yet again Wes Thomas looked to break in behind the Wanderers backline just before the hour mark. Basey tackled back well to concede a corner despite calls for a penalty from the away fans behind the goal.
From the resulting corner Joel Grant used his pace well to win the ball punched out by Nikki Bull and raced in on goal before firing low into the hands of Flahavan.
A long ball forward saw Stuart Beavon challenge in the air and when the resulting clearance fell to Scott Donnelly 25 yards from goal, he struck with an ambitious volley which dipped wide of the right hand post.
Kadeem Harris utilized his speed advantage over left-back Warren Cummings to reach the byline and float a cross into the back post shortly after. On that occasion nobody was there to meet the cross but it pre-empted a flurry of crosses from the right side, which eventually saw a deep cross headed downward by Joel Grant before bouncing up and being tipped over by Flahavan.
From the resulting corner Wycombe were almost caught out on the break as Wes Thomas sprinted in on goal. Thankfully Nikki Bull was quick off his line to interrupt Thomas' progress and force the ball out for a goal-kick.
Bournemouth continued to stifle the Blues in the closing stages as the home side toiled hard without seriously troubling the Bournemouth defence. Indeed it was Thomas, who performed excellently all afternoon, that came closest to scoring again on 82 minutes as he got ahead of Johnson to head powerfully across the face of the goal. With Bull helpless the ball thumped the base of the post to anguished cries from the away end.
With the Blues searching desperately for a goal, manager Gary Waddock introduced Scott Rendell, who returned from a recent loan spell at Bristol Rovers and added some physicality to the front line.
Deep in added time Stuart Beavon received a throw in with his back to goal. In a tight corner Beavon found Scott Donnelly inside the area but his attempt was stifled by a firm challenge form a Bournemouth defence who remained solid until the very end and inflicted another painful defeat on the Wanderers.