⭐ denotes Chairboys Central Man of the Match
⚽ denotes scorer
Ryan Allsop 6.5 | Didn’t clear Jason McCarthy’s back-pass quickly enough, allowing Ian Henderson time to charge it down and poach Rochdale’s goal – even if they only go in nine times out of then – and almost gifted them a second soon after by fumbling a tame low effort. Regained composure, though, and had already made an important save in the opening few minutes. Could find Bayo’s head from a mile away with his eyes shut too.
Jason McCarthy 8 ⭐ ⚽ | Return of the Mac 2 went about as well as we could have wished for. In the first game of his third spell with the Blues (well, Yellows), he was the living embodiment of a can of Red Bull, as we’ve come to know and love over the past few years. A genuine right-back and restored the energy we’ve been so badly lacking there for the last six games. Whipped in some delicious crosses but delightfully fluked the equaliser with a sliced one. Will be amazing to see him link up with David Wheeler when the latter returns to the right wing. Ain’t nobody like McCarthy!
Anthony Stewart 7 | Not particularly troubled defensively but got rid of the ball when he needed to. Always a good outlet when it comes to pinging long balls to the edge of the box, for which he had plenty of options with the triple aerial threat of Wheeler, Adebayo Akinfenwa and Josh Parker. Played the most accurate long balls (6) of any outfield player, in fact.
Darius Charles 7 | [Insert usual Darius assessment here] Opposing managers may think they know what they’re going to get with Wycombe, but Gareth Ainsworth knows what he’s going to get with Darius Charles. Organised and the organiser for those around him. Calm in possession but never lax, looking for the most effective option as far as possible. Won 6/10 aerials, a solid return when up against Dale target man Calvin Andrew.
Joe Jacobson 7.5 ⚽ | Nerves. Of. Steel. Continues to have arguably the season of his career and dispatched his second stoppage time penalty clincher of it like it was the fifth goal in a rout. Kept testing the visitors’ shaky-looking ‘keeper Jay Lynch and might have bagged another corner special, as well as making a superb and vital interception in the box when the visitors looked destined to restore their lead not long before he won it.
Nick Freeman 7 | Assumed a somewhat unusual role on the right of a narrower, diamond-ish midfield four but able to link up with McCarthy as a result. Covered a lot of ground in and out of possession and had a couple of half-decent attempts – which probably just needed to fall to him on his right foot. Played three key passes, produced some progressive link-up play, and very hard to knock off the ball as per.
Dom Gape 7 | Started more advanced in a role akin to that normally performed by Matt Bloomfield, who was on the bench, and slotted in with trouble at all. Ultimately dropped back into his regular position and helped quell the away side’s sporadic threat. Made more than twice as many interceptions (5) than anyone on either side with the exception of JJ (3).
Curtis Thompson 7 | I’m having trouble remembering his game overall because of one outrageous moment when he delicately trapped the ball, flicked it up and dinked it over a Dale player to a team-mate. Little bits of magic like that are woven into his predominantly combative performances, which of course this was. 5/7 accurate long balls, 6/9 duels won and three tackles give a solid overview of another solid afternoon’s work from Thommo.
David Wheeler 6.5 | Did most of the work in the build-up to McCarthy’s goal but couldn’t really get involved on the left – in the corresponding role to Freeman. Perfectly in sync for a Bayo-Parker-Wheeler triple flick-on but didn’t win a single duel in the air – for, off the top of my head (no pun intended), the first time in a Wycombe shirt – and had only 21 touches, the fewest of any starter in the game. Did nothing wrong when he did get involved, just suffered a little as a result of the change of position.
Josh Parker 7 | At long last, a first league start for the versatile former Charlton and Gillingham forward – and he wasn’t going to waste the opportunity! An intelligent player who reads the game well, he drifted across the final third and dropped deeper to collect the ball and try to find a forward gear – using his pace to good effect, mostly when chasing down. Fluffed his best chance, which did fall to him on his weaker left side.
Adebayo Akinfenwa 6.5 | Not the most Beastly of Beast performance but had a game-high six shots, including a pair of headers straight from Allsop long balls. Always a test for defenders, though, of course, and even completed a dribble for only the fifth time this campaign. Astonishingly, won just 1/13 aerial duels (for context, he averages 10.9 aerial wins per 90 in 2019/20).
Paul Smyth (replaced Wheeler, 73) 6.5 | Has the ability to make defenders s*** themselves when running at them, jinking this way and that with the aim of either beating them or drawing foul – and so it proved for the penalty, when he was hauled down while on a run which might well have concluded in glory anyway. All the impact he needed to make in the end!
Nnamdi Ofoborh (replaced Gape, 87) N/A
Matt Bloomfield (replaced Thompson, 89) N/A