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Cambridge United 2
Wycombe Wanderers 2
Friday 16th December 1994
Football League Division Two
Wanderers had to settle for a draw on a bitterly cold Friday night in Cambridgeshire, drawing 2-2 with fourth from bottom Cambridge United. However, the point took Wycombe to the dizzy heights of 2nd place in the table ahead of the Saturday fixtures - ahead of Birmingham City on goal difference and three points behind leaders Oxford United.
Martin O'Neill's side found themselves a goal down after just 8 minutes when Steve Butler fired past Paul Hyde after a run from just inside the Wycombe half. However, Wanderers hit back with a Garry Patterson equaliser before the break and then saw Terry Evans snatch the lead on 59 minutes when he followed up a header that had struck the post.
But the home side levelled through the highly rated Carlo Corazzin four minutes later and the game could have gone either way from there on in. The U's had Billy Manuel sent-off in the 89th minute for a allegedly pulling back Steve Thompson on route to goal. Manuel had already been booked but the referee revealed after the game that the player had been sent-off for a 'professional foul' rather than a second bookable offence. But Wycome had little time to take advantage of their one extra man.
Reporting for the Bucks Free Press from The Abbey Stadium, Claire Nash wrote: 'Wycombe Wanderers go into the Christmas weekend in festive mood after last Friday’s 2-2 draw at Cambridge United. It keeps them perfectly poised for a promotion bid. Blues spent a pleasurable 18 hours in second place in Division Two, their highest position this season, after earning a fiercely-contested point at the Abbey Stadium. They dropped back to third when Birmingham beat Leyton Orient on Saturday. But it leaves them with it all to play for in next week’s hectic yuletide programme of four games in seven days.
Wycombe started strongly at Cambridge despite remaining under-strength without Regis, Bell and Stapleton. But Cambridge went ahead against the run of play. Blues battled back resolutely, as they did against Huddersfield the week before, to lead 2-1. But the hosts, who impressively belied their lowly position, had the final say.
Patterson, Blues’ recent £40,000 signing from Shrewsbury, went some way to wiping out the ignominy of being sent off in his debut performance against Huddersfield when he cancelled out Cambridge’s eighth-minute opener.
Blues’ impressive, but ultimately fruitless, opening spell saw Tony Hemmings’ header hit the post; fellow striker Simon Garner had claims for a penalty turned down when he was stopped in his tracks by goalkeeper Jon Sheffield and defender Dean Barrick, and Matt Crossley had a shot cleared off the line. Cambridge, meanwhile, prospered with their second attack of the game. Butler was found by a long ball just beyond the half-way line, the striker showing impressive control before drilling the ball inside the far post. The goal lifted the hosts whose tight defending thwarted Wycombe’s efforts to fashion a quick reply.
Blues patiently bided their time and hit back with a well-worked set piece on 37 minutes. Garner’s flick on from Carroll’s free kick found Patterson who out-paced Cambridge’s defence to score with a downward header from close range. Cambridge kept their composure, however, and pressed again before the break with pacy full back Junior Hunter and striker Carlo Corrazin, who was being watched by Blackburn boss Kenny Dalglish, both going close.
Both sides stepped up a few gears after the interval. Terry Evans sparked a scintillating spell to warm the chilled bones of a hardy 3,713 crowd when he scored Wycombe’s second of the night. The captain put Blues ahead on 59 minutes when he whacked in a rebound after his initial header from Carroll’s cross hit the post. He used his huge frame effectively at the other end moments later when he blocked Corrazin’s testing shot. But nothing could stop the latter’s impressive header which gave Hyde no chance as it looped towards the top corner on 64 minutes.
The game was anybody’s for the next ten minutes. Dalglish uncannily picked the perfect moment to make an early exit from the stands 15 minutes before the end, with both sets of players withering from their early exertions. Both teams also picked up a spate of bookings, with Cambridge’s Billy Manuel sent off for his second of the night. The punishment was scant consolation for Blues’ Steve Thompson who was tugged back by the midfielder after breaking away with a promising attack on 89 minutes.'
Speaking after the game Martin O'Neill said: "We have got 40 points, which is a magnificent haul from 20 games. We can now go into Christmas and analyse what we have done and what we have not done. Added to that, we are still in the FA Cup. It’s a great Christmas to look forward to." The Wycombe boss also believed it was essential that he boosted his squad for the remaining games of the campaign, adding: "It’s inevitable that we have got to get more players. One thing we do not lack is spirit, but sometimes we need more guile and decisiveness."
Meanwhile, Billy Manuel, commenting on his sending-off, said: "It was diabolical. The fellow had run through, but I didn't touch him. He slowed down because he realised he wouldn't get the ball."
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