The Story of The Blues
brought to you by
Hitchin Town 0
Wycombe Wanderers 5
Saturday 3rd December 1994
FA Cup 2nd Round Proper

Having overcome Chelmsford City in the First Round at Adams Park, Wanderers were given a potentially tricky tie away to former Isthmian League rivals Hitchin Town in Round Two.

The Canaries had won on the road at Hereford United in the previous round and Wycombe, with speculation rife that Manager Martin O’Neill was set to join Leicester City, were all set for a fall.

Town opted to keep the tie as their quaint 3,500 capacity Top Field ground, with tickets for Wanderers fans limited to around 500 and allocated via a postal ballot to season ticket holders only. These were snapped up almost immediately but thankfully, more tickets for Wycombe fans were made available on the day.

Match of the Day initially chose the game as one of their main matches but the slickness of Wycombe’s display, demoted the highlights to a few minutes as the Isthmian side failed to live-up to their exploits at Edgar Street.

Reporting for the Bucks Free Press at Top Field, Claire Nash wrote:

'Wycombe responded to Martin O'Neill's decision to remain as manager in barnstorming fashion when they hammered non-League FA Cup hopefuls Hitchin Town on Saturday.

The Blues boss said the prospect of a tricky second-round clash against a side which upset Division Three club Hereford in the previous round had petrified him. But Wycombe came through the test with flying colours. Veteran striker Simon Garner weighed in with a hat-trick on his return from injury, and Keith Ryan and Mickey Bell snapped up a goal apiece to cap the club's eventful week.

Skipper Terry Evans described the impact of Martin O’Neill’s decision to stay on the team’s preparations. "It was a great boost. We owe this victory to the gaffer. I just hope his gesture is appreciated by the fans when things start to get a bit rough."

There were few, if any, worries on that score on Saturday. Hitchin began with great gusto, but Wycombe knocked the stuffing out of them by scoring with their first attack. Garner perfectly timed his run to meet and slot home Steve Thompson's cross after the latter's run from midfield.

Wycombe soaked up Hitchin's enthusiastic response. Ex-Wycombe Wanderer Gavin Covington battled hard to make life uncomfortable for former team-mates Dave Carroll and Keith Ryan.

Hitchin goalkeeper Gerald Sylvester got national newspaper reporters scribbling feverishly when his heroic save thwarted Jason Cousins' fierce 25-yard free kick on 25 minutes. But Sylvester put them off the scent of a fairytale when he blasted Thompson's speculative long ball straight at Ryan on 39 minutes. The midfielder-cum-forward then simply strolled the ball into the net. Hitchin manager Andy Melvin disputed the goal, believing it was offside.

Wycombe's steamroller offensive continued apace after the interval. Hitchin's dangerman Shaun Marshall hardly got a look in. Garner scored the pick of his three goals, a glancing header from Bell's left-wing cross, on 47 minutes. The striker returned the favour for the winger 11 minutes later. He supplied Bell with a cross from the right which the latter stabbed into the bottom corner. Garner put the icing on Blues' goal glut when he chested down and fired home Cousins' header into the box after a good passing build-up on 62 minutes. The hattrick hero said afterwards: "The manager wasn't pleased at half time that I missed two or three chances in the first half. After that the others just went in." '

Wycombe: Hyde, Cousins, Brown, Crossley. Evans, Ryan, Carroll, Bell, Thompson, Garner (sub 70 Hemmings), Stapleton (sub 66 Langford) - sub not used: Moussaddik (GK)
Scorers: Garner 7, 47, 62. Ryan 39. Bell 58
Bookings: none
Hitchin: Sylvester, Bone, Covington, Burke, Miller, Rutherford (sub 65 McGonagai), Wilson, Marshall (sub 80 Caines), Williams. D Thompson, Ryan - sub not used: Goodwin (GK)
Scorers: None
Bookings: Burke 26 (foul), Marshall 42 (foul). D Thompson 83 (foul), Bone 88 (foul)
Referee: C Wilkes (Corse) Attendance: 2,765

Speaking after the game, Wanderers boss Martin O'Neill said: "It's been a great day. We were apprehensive before the game. I was very pleased to get the first goal which got rid of the tension and helped us settle down." O'Neill praised the expert contribution of Garner whose wily skill exposed the major difference between the two sides. "He has not done much training this week, just a bit of running and smoked a couple of fags," joked O'Neill before adding: "He took his goals magnificently, they were a treat. We've missed him, and Cyrille. But Keith Ryan has done a fantastic fill-in job."

Garner, who netted Wanderers first ever hat-trick in the competition proper of the FA Cup, commented on O'Neill and his decision to stay at Adams Park: "I’m asking for another two weeks off now. I’m lucky the way he treats me. If I don’t want to train every day he doesn’t force me, he knows I’ll be ready for Saturday’s.” The 35 year-old added: "It’s certainly been a week of uncertainty but when the boss said he would stay, we decided this one would be for him”.

The Third Round draw would pit Wanderers at home against Premier League West Ham United. The media would start to gather again in the hope of an ‘upset’ against a side Managed by Harry Redknapp and described in the press as ‘fragile against opposition from lower divisions’.

Next game - Wycombe v Huddersfield Town - Saturday 10th December 1994
This is the story of WYCOMBE WANDERERS brought to you by HISTORY MENU