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|1993-1994 RETRO INDEX||HISTORY MENU|
|Retro - A look back on the 1993/94 season|
Feb 1994 - Magic at Fulham
Tragic against Mansfield and Wigan
Wanderers' AutoGlass Trophy tie with Fulham at Craven Cottage on Tuesday 8th February 1994 goes down as one of those magic moments in the history of the Club. Close to 2,000 Wycombe fans were there to see it and came away with a spring in their step after a superb performance capped with a penalty shoot out victory took Wanderers into the Sourthen Regional final.
Wycombe line-up vs Fulham: Hyde, Cousins, Horton (sub HT Langford), Crossley, Evans (sub 43 Kerr), Ryan, Carroll, Thompson, Stapleton, Garner, Guppy - Att:8,733 - Ref: J Brandwood Click here for extended report
However, the victory over Fulham didn't come without its casualties. Skipper Terry Evans was ruled out for the remainder of the season when he damaged knee ligaments after Fulham 'keeper Jim Stannard fell on him. Duncan Horton was also forced off in the same game with a hernia problem and Matt Crossley needed stitches in a cut to his chin.
New signing Simon Garner made his Wycombe debut in the game at Craven Cottage having joined on a free from West Brom the previous Friday. Also joining the Wanderers on the Monday was Northampton Town midfielder Steve Brown. Commenting on his latest signings, Martin O'Neill said "I think both of them will do all right for the Club" and added "I think the players here are apprehensive and excited at the same time about the new arrivals."
Garner, who had agreed a deal until the end of the 1994/95 season, played against Wycombe in the previous season's FA Cup while still at West Brom and said of his move to Adams Park "I do not think I would have dropped down a division if I was not coming to a club that is going places. I am here to score goals. I hope that is what I can do for them." The 34 year old's parting shot to his former team-mates was "I'll see you in the Second Division next season."
Meanwhile, 27 year old Brown had joined Wycombe for an initial fee of £40,000, rising to a further £30,000 over 45 appearances. It was Wycombe's record signing on fee at the time. Speaking of his move from Northampton, Brown said "I am sad to leave them. But I am keen in my career to escalate and if that's with Wycombe then I just want to get out there to do the job Martin O'Neill wants me to." Brown had been signed on two year contract.
Both players would make their Wycombe League debuts in the Division Two game at Mansfield Town on Saturday 12th February 1994. The game saw Wanderers return to earth with a bump after the highlight of beating Fulham. The home side took the lead in the 27th minute through Wayne Fairclough when he flicked the ball past Paul Hyde from close range after Wycombe had been caught out from a short corner. Wanderers' chances were few and far between with the best effort coming in the opening minute of the second-half when Brown's dipping shot was tipped over by the home 'keeper. However, on the hour mark Wanderers went further behind when The Stags new signing from Derby County, Stewart Hadley, fired past Hyde from an unmarked position at the far post. Eight minutes later it was well and truly 'game over' when Hadley got past Andy Kerr and his cross found Steve Wilkinson who converted with ease. Brown was substituted shortly afterwards following an eratic debut as Wanderers crashed to their second successive League defeat.
O'Neill was not happy after the game, describing it as the worst display since he took charge four years previous and adding"We were pitiful, absolutely pitiful. We did not get into it all. There was no desire." He was also less than sympathetic to the new players, saying "If players need three or four games to settle down, that's not good enough. We don't have time to wait for players to settle down." Wanderers remained 2nd in the table after the defeat with 47 points from 27 games but Shrewsbury were level on points with a game in hand, closely followed by four clubs on 44 points - Preston, Torquay, Chester and Walsall.
There was brief break from the serious business of Division Three football the following Tuesday when Marlow were the visitors to Adams Park in the Second Round of the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup. A crowd of just over 1,000 struggled to see through the descending fog for the majority of the game where reports indicate that Wanderers lost 3-1 after extra-time. Dave Carroll scored Wycombe's goal in normal time to equalise an earlier David Lay penalty for Marlow. Garfield Blackman put the visitors 2-1 ahead in the 97th minute and then with 15 minutes remaining of extra-time, Wycombe introduced 'keeper Paul Hyde up front in place of Alec Norman. Hydey went close to scoring (and flattening an opponent), before David Lay chipped the ball over a motionless Chuck Moussadik to seal victory for Marlow.
The games against Mansfield and Marlow proved to be the last in a Wycombe shirt for transfer-listed Andy Kerr. The 27 year old defender joined Wanderers in Setember 1988 and went on to make just over 250 appearances and scoring 33 times. Only ten months previous he had scored one of the goals in the famous FA Trophy Final victory over Runcorn at Wembley.
Kerr's replacement in the mean time was to be on-loan Nottingham Forest defender Steve Blatherwick. He made his debut in the home game with fourth from bottom Wigan Athletic on Saturday 19th February 1994 in what was arguably the low point of the season for varying reasons. Wanderers were a goal down after ten minutes when Andy Lyons finished past Hyde and having failed to get back into the game, then saw debutant Blatherwick sent off in the 70th minute for his verbal reaction to be being booked by referee Keith Cooper. Keith Ryan and Garner went close to snatching a draw in the dying moments but it was the reaction from certain sections of the crowd that proved to be the talking point afterwards. Cries of 'Martin, Martin, sort them out' came at the half-time interval and there was some booing at the final whistle following the 1-0 defeat. It's probably fair to say that Martin O'Neill wasn't amused.
The Wycombe boss refused to talk to the press after the game and First Team Coach Paul Franklin stepped in to try and calm things down. He said "They pay their money, they are entitled to say what they think. But considering the success Martin and the players have brought to the Club, it is disappointing they are not getting behind them during a difficult time." The moaning fans were widely condemed by the Wanderers hardcore of support through comments and letters to the local press but not before Club Chairman Ivor Beeks and O'Neill had said their piece in what were to become a relatively unread set of programme notes issued for the postponed game with Rochdale on Tuesday 22nd February 1994.
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