THIS wasn’t the kind of contest to keep Sky viewers on the edge of their seats, but it was just what Hddersfield Town needed!
“Jordan Rhodes is not for sale” chanted the gleeful travelling fans as the red-hot striker raised his profile, and value, even further with an amazing five-goal haul in front of the TV cameras.
It followed last month’s four-goal show at Sheffield Wednesday and means the 21-year-old now has five hat tricks this season and seven in his career.
The Scotland ace has now netted in five games running and, with 12 goals in that remarkable spell, has 27 for the season at club level and another six for Scotland Under 21s.
Driving midfielder Oscar Gobern got the ball rolling with his second goal in Town colours.
And while Rhodes, freshly named as the npower League I player of the month for December, rightly got the
plaudits, there was also praise for Lee Novak, who was unselfish in support of his teammate.
Big centre-back Jamie McCombe returned in one of four changes to the Town side on duty at Notts County.
It was a first league start since his costly sending off against Leyton Orient back on September 24.
There was also a recall for wideman Danny Ward, who had missed the previous three games.
Midfielder Tommy Miller returned after a hamstring injury while Lee Novak was also back in the XI.
The men to drop out, Tom Clarke, Danny Cadamarteri, Anton Robinson and Alan Lee, were all on the bench.
Wycombe boss Gary Waddock had threatened to wield the axe in the wake of two successive defeats.
But in fact he made just two changes, with defender Grant Basey, recently signed from Peterborough, and midfielder Joel Grant coming in.
Wycombe had the first effort on target through 11-goal leading scorer Stuart Beavon, but his fifth-minute shot on the turn was comfortably saved by Ian Bennett, who looked on in delight as he team took the lead five minutes later.
Novak brought a smart stop from Nikki Bull with a low drive from the edge of the area, but from the resultant corner taken by Gary Roberts, the keeper was wrongfooted as teammate Danny Foster tried to clear Gobern’s header but only succeeded in deflecting the ball into the net.
Marcello Trotta, the on-loan Fulham frontman, cut in from the right and drilled in a shot as the home side sought a quick response, but Bennett once again stood firm.
Wycombe were less convincing in defence, however, and were all at sea as Town doubled their lead on 19 minutes.
Novak picked out Jack Hunt with a neat pass and the overlapping right-back’s cross was met by Rhodes, who slid the ball home.
Roberts lofted a 24th-minute shot narrowly over, but it wasn’t long before the Town contingent were celebrating a third goal.
Once again it was Rhodes who did the damage, latching onto Novak’s through ball, shrugging off centre-back Leon Johnson and going to the right of Bull before netting with an angled shot.
Town were looking dangerous every time they attacked, and Rhodes had a header cleared off the line by Johnson in the 32nd minute before Roberts brought a flying save from Bull with a curling shot four minutes later.
Home hopes of a more solid second-half showing were crushed within four minutes of the restart as Rhodes completed his hat trick.
Wycome were a touch unlucky as the ball deflected off referee Steve Tanner, allowing Novak to play another telling pass to his frontline partner.
Rhodes was onto it in a flash, and while Bull parried his initial effort, he made no mistake from the rebound.
To add to Wycombe’s woes, defender Johnson had to come off after he was injured when colliding with his keeper while trying to thwart Rhodes, who made it 5-0 in the 58th minute with a straightforward finish after Ward’s shot was parried.
But Rhodes wasn’t finished yet, and when Ward broke clear down the left in the 68th minute, his flicked finish had the fans behind the goal jumping for joy yet again.
It was Town’s biggest away win since Stockport were trounced by the same scoreline at Edgeley Park in April 2010 and the second time they have beaten Wycombe 6-0 in a Sky-televised game, the other being at the Galpharm in November 2009.