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Retro - A look back on the 1993/94 season
April/May 1994 - Wanderers finish in play-off spot
Crewe v Wycombe 30th April 1994 Wanderers went into their home match with Scunthorpe United on Saturday 23rd April 1994 desperately needing three points to maintain the chances of automatic promotion to Division Two. However, 9th place Scunthorpe provided tough opposition on a day when Wanderers paraded a new light and dark blue quartered kit.
After a goalless first-half, the visitors took the lead on 49 minutes when referee John Brandwood waved play-on after a handball and Mark Smith shot home from the edge of the box. But Wycombe responded with firey spell culminating on 57 minutes when Steve Thompson laid the ball off to Jason Cousins on the right side of goal who powered a shot so hard into the top corner of the net that it literally had to be hammered out of the stanchion by the 'keeper and defender.
Keith Ryan then fired wide on 69 minutes and a minute later Simon Stapleton saw an effort hit the post. Wycombe's reward came in the 78th minute when a brave header from Glyn Creaser connected with Dave Carroll's free-kick from the left and the ball sailed into the Valley End net. It was a richly deserved goal but there was to be a cruel twist in the tale as Mr Brandwood pointed to the spot with six minutes remaining after an innoculous looking challenge by Matt Crossley on Sammy Goodacre close to the right bye-line. Not one Scunthorpe player claimed for a penalty but it didn't stop Wayne Bullimore converting the kick to steal a point for the visitors. Speaking after the game Martin O'Neill said "Scunthorpe have players who play good football but we completely outplayed them. They have got out of jail and the referee had a lot to do with it. It may sound like sour grapes but he made some mind-boggling decisions." Those decisions even prompted Simon Stapleton's dad to invade the pitch at the end of the game and attempt to confront the referee. He was eventually led away by Police and warned of his future conduct.
The trip to Crewe Alexandra on Saturday 30th April now took on an even more important significance for both sides. Victory for Wycombe, coupled with a defeat for fifth placed Preston would mean automatic promotion for the Wanderers. The game had been made all-ticket and there was controversey when Wycombe's allocation of 1,500 was distributed first to travellers on official club transport rather than prioritised to Season Ticket Holders. It meant a scramble for tickets for the Wycombe faithful who quickly snapped up the allocation by whatever means possible.
The majority of the Wanderers fans were packed on the small terrace behind the goal at Gresty Road and greeted the team on the pitch with a mass of balloons and ticker tape. The debris had hardly time to settle before Wycombe were behind when Ashley Ward side footed past Paul Hyde from the left side of the penalty to stun the away following. Wanderers never say die attitude paid off though with a bizarre equaliser on 15 when a mis-hit clearance from Darren Rowbotham looped back into the Crewe penalty area and Tony Hemmings claimed he got a touch with his head as the ball ended in the net. After a fairly uneventful second-half the game appeared to be heading for a draw but Wanderers were hit again by a late goal when a free-kick from the right wing was punched clear by Hyde but only as far as Ward who smashed the ball back into the net for the his second and the winner.
Wycombe v Preston programme 7th May 1994The defeat at Crewe saw Wycombe fall to fourth place in the table and the automatic promotion spot out of their hands. The final regular League game of the season against Preston North End on Saturday 7th May 1994 was now one where Wycombe had to win and then rely on Crewe failing to take three points at Chester City. The game at Adams Park was another all-ticket affair although Wanderers had managed to raise the capacity of the ground to 9,000 just a few days before this game after spending 10,000 installing additional crash barriers along the Woodlands Terrace. A crowd of 7,442 would eventually turn out to see this nervewracking encounter.
The day started with Jason Cousins being presented with the Player of the Season award. However, like the game at Crewe, Wanderers gifted the opponents an early lead when Ryan Kidd scrambled the ball home following a corner. And once again Wanderers dragged themselves back into the game and eventually equalised on 40 minutes when Creaser prodded home after a Dave Carroll corner from the left. The news came through at the break that Crewe were drawing at Chester and knowing that a win could mean promotion it was with extreme frustration as Wanderers couldn't quite find the net again - Simon Garner going the closest in the dying momemnts when his shot from the right channel skimmed the wrong side of the opposite upright. It was almost a relief to hear that Ashley Ward had a struck a later winner for Crewe and Wycombe's result was relatively unimportant as thoughts turned to the play-offs.
Martin O'Neill commented after the Preston game "We are still capable of getting promotion and I suppose if your heart can stand it, the best way to do it is by winning at Wembley." He also commented later "We are in a play-off situation. I suppose we would have all settled for that at the beggining of the season but because we have been in the top four or five for so long it is a bit disappointing."

Wanderers would face Carlisle United in the two-legged play-off semi-final, although before then there was some light relief with a first ever appearance in the Evening Standard Fives tournament at Wembley Arena. Click here to read more

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