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|Wycombe Wanderers 1992-1993 - retro|
April 1993 - Wanderers clinch Conference Championship and promotion to the Football League
Just three days after Wanderers had clinched a place in the 1993 FA Trophy final it was all eyes on a crucial Conference encounter with Slough Town at Wexham Park on Tuesday 13th April 1993. An all-ticket crowd of 4,500 packed into Slough's basic ground to see if Wanderers, wearing their rarely seen all white change kit, could earn a victory that would virtually seal the Conference Championship with three weeks of the season left to play.
Only Kim Casey and Hakan Hayrettin were rested from the side that had beaten SuttonUnited in the Trophy Semi-Final. It was Casey's stand-in Tim Langford that sent the 2,000 plus travelling fans wild on 70 minutes - the ex-Telford striker racing in from the right before finishing with a low shot past Trevor Bunting in the Slough goal. However, Championship celebrations were put on hold when first Slough equalised on 75 minutes after Ian Hazel looped a shot over Paul Hyde from 35 yards before the home side went on to dominate the closing stages. But when referee Graham Poll blew the final whistle with the scores still at 1-1 Wycombe followers knew it was all over bar the shouting.
After the game the Conference table saw Wanderers six points clear of Slough with three games in hand and a goal difference so superior that Slough would need to pull back over ten goals per game. Martin O'Neill said afterwards "We thought when we got off the coach that if we don't get beaten tonight we will have come an awful long way. We're a point closer to winning the champsionship"
Wanderers would effectively clinch the title if they beat Runcorn at Adams Park in a Conference game just two days after the trip to Slough (Thursday 15th April 1993). 6,220 turned out to see what was to be a highly emotional evening. Before the game Martin O'Neill took the opportunity to get a few things off his chest via his matchday programme notes. The epic rant ran to just under 2,500 words [click here to read them]
The game itself saw Keith Scott give Wanderers an early lead when he followed up a Simon Hutchinson shot from the right side of goal that had hit the post. There was a minor set-back midway through the half when Ken McKenna, the subject of much good natured abuse from the Wycombe following, struck a low shot past Paul Hyde from the edge of the penalty area. However, Hutchinson restored Wycombe's lead before the break when he angled in shot from the right channel.
Wanderers took firm control of the game after the re-start when Jason Cousins delivered a free-kick from the right wing that pinged around in the box before Tim Langford finished off with a diving header. The highlight of the evening though, was a stunning goal from Steve Guppy with around five minutes remaining. The winger picked up possession just ten yards outside his own penalty area before setting off on a run down the left flank. As he approached the Valley End goal, he nipped into the penalty area before dinking the ball into the near corner of the net. There has been few, if any, better goals at Adams Park.
A 5-1 victory was secured in the very final minute when Guppy set off on another run before playing the ball across the face of the goal where Hutchinson calmly fired the ball into the back of the net. With the crowd still celebrating the goal and chanting "We are going up!", the final whistle was blown and Wanderers had gained promotion to the Football League.
Although the win didn't officially mean Wycombe had won the title there was no stopping a pitch invasion at the final whistle and the first of many balcony scenes before the end of the season. The next invasion was the following Saturday when despite losing 2-0 at home to Altrincham on Saturday 17th April 1993, Slough's defeat at Yeovil the same day meant that even the fussy mathmaticians could concede that Wanderers were Champions. And just to prove that Wycombe were untouchable, it was off to Gateshead the next day (Sunday 18th April 1993) to play a fifth game in eight days and win 1-0 thanks to a Steve Thompson goal.
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