Here we go again. Why do we put ourselves through it. Another meaningless pre-season game with nothing at stake for either side. Do I need to go? Do the proverbial bears relieve themselves in the proverbial woods?
This was my first visit to Wycombe. I seem to remember us playing there at some point in the fairly recent past in another of these games, but maybe my mind is playing tricks on me. It is a nice, compact little ground with two reasonable stands. We took over one of them (behind the goal) and, from the look of it, a fair chunk of the stand to our left. The ground lies at the end of a dead end road on an industrial estate, meaning one way in and one way out. We were left with a bloody big hill to climb to get back to the car, but you do not want to hear about all my troubles.
Tonight was another of those two team affairs, much more so in fact than against Pompey last Saturday. It was reassuring to see the smiling faces of Jimmy Floyd and Soxy both warming up, just in time for the real kick-off fast closing in on us.
How to do a match report from a game where there was so little action? Not an easy one. First half we had lots of chances, as did they, but we seemed to take too long before having a crack. I lost count of the number of blocked shots on goal. Lumpy could – and perhaps should – have got on the scoresheet early on, but saw his effort well saved. But for a few other efforts, that seemed to be that. Well, until the 34th minute when Zola lit up a fast darkening night when cutting in from the right to curl a shot beautifully past their helpless keeper. A goal right out of his top draw and one that even drew applause from the Wycombe fans. Within a couple of minutes it was two when Jimmy Floyd belted the ball home. Sadly the assistant referee decided that it was offside, so the goal was chalked off.
The highlight of the first half for me, if not the entire game, was our support. With nothing much to excite on the pitch, a number of good songs started to do the rounds. “We’ve got two Marios,” to the tune of Paulo Di Canio. Some might say one or two too many. “You’ve got more trees than us,” and after a tannoy announcement for a Mr Clarke to meet his wife at gate six: “One Mrs Clarke, there’s only one Mrs Clarke.” This soon turned into: “Stand up, if you’re Mrs Clarke,” and so on. Well, it certainly lit my evening up anyway. Little things, as they say.
Second half, eight changes, and the game really died a death. Wycombe certainly created the better chances and were unlucky on a couple of occasions not to grab an equaliser. We did have a few efforts that on another day could have found the back of the net, but it was not to be. Perhaps the best of these was a powerful header from Jesper, which was well saved by the ‘keeper before falling into the back of the net and breaking it. This led to some emergency repairs and chants of: “Bob the builder, can he fix it.” Yes, the crowd was certainly up for it tonight.
Chelsea line-up: de Goey, Melchiot (Ferrer 45), Gallas, Desailly (Huth 45), Le Saux (Babayaro 45), Keenan, Stanic (Gronkjaer 45), Lampard (Morris 45), Zenden (de Lucas 45), Hasselbaink (Cole 45), Zola (Oilveira 45).