A superb performance from Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe Wanderers was enough to condemn Terry Westley’s young Hammers to defeat in the final Checkatrade Trophy Southern Group C clash at Adams Park last night.
The hosts first took the lead through Will De Havilland after 31 minutes, the visitors having squandered some superb opportunities before that, none more so than when Skipper Moses Makasi fired over from close-range.
But, The Chairboys took their chances at the pivotal times in the clash as Sido Jombati struck home early in the second period to double his side’s advantage, meaning that Swindon Town have now edged ahead on goal difference to claim first place in the Group.
The Claret & Blue starlets, who had possessed a 100% record in this Competition heading into the tie, will now face Luton Town in Round Two and not Forest Green, meanwhile, Wanderers, having already been knocked out, finished third in the Standings.
From the start in Buckinghamshire, Gareth Ainsworth, 44 and naming himself on the bench for yesterday evening’s affair, decided on six alterations from his side’s 2-1 League Two win over Yeovil Town last Saturday.
Coming into the starting Xl were keeper Yves Ma-Kalambay, Will De Havilland, Captain Adam El-Abd, Sam Saunders, Jack Williams, and Nick Freeman, they took the places of Scott Brown, defenders Anthony Stewart and Joe Jacobson, Vice-Skipper Matt Bloomfield, Paris Cowan-Hall and likeable striker Adebayo Akinfenwa.
Meanwhile, Terry Westley made four changes in the wake of Friday night’s disappointing 3-0 Premier League Two Division One loss to Arsenal at Meadow Park.
In defence, Tunji Akinola and Rosaire Longelo departed in favour of returning first-team centre-back James Collins and Vashon Neufville, whilst Domingos Quina came back in for Grady Diangana and Antonio Martinez, who has joined up with David Moyes’ Squad for the trip to Goodison Park, saw Jahmal Hector-Ingram take his position up-front.
On a freezing night just North of The Capital, the young Irons almost got off to the best start possible when Quina broke through on the right, but Ma-Kalambay was able to deny both his and Sead Haksabanovic efforts before Makasi found the stands with a half-empty goal at his mercy, a golden opportunity.
Ainsworth’s men would not take long at all to make them pay for the miss and were ahead just after the half-hour as Saunders picked out De Havilland and his glancing header that just beat Nathan Trott at the far stick.
But, the Bermuda-born shot-stopper was not going to be beaten a second time just moments later as Freeman ran free and picked out Dayle Southwell, only for Trott to make an excellent point-blank stop down to his right.
The Chairboys would then start the second-half exactly how they ended the first to give themselves a cushion after ten minutes of it.
Saunders’ free-kick was swung in and nodded away only as far as Williams, who was able to hoist the ball back into the area out Jombati for the Portuguese forward to show great composure and skill in bringing it down and volleying it into the top corner.
The strike effectively put the game to bed in Buckinghamshire with Westley’s boys lacking composure without Collins, having gone off nursing yet another injury on 24 minutes, a huge worry for Moyes.
However, there was still time for a bit of Trott magic to deny Southwell, leaping superbly to keep the tricky shot out, after the Englishman was found by Freeman on the near side.
All eyes were then on the other end in the closing stages as Diangana and Quina somehow didn’t find the back of the net with deflected efforts making for a disappointing end to a hugely successful EFL Trophy Group stage for the youngsters.
Meanwhile, Wycombe’s focus will now switch to other Cup duties, the small matter of The FA Cup and their Round Two tie with Sammy Moore’s Non-League Leatherhead on Sunday afternoon.
Whereas, Westley’s men will now look straight ahead to the Last 16 of this Competition and a tough trip to face Luton Town at Kenilworth Road which will take place in only six days’ time.