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Fulham 2
Tuesday 8th January 2002
FA Cup Third Round
FA Cup Wanderers were denied another FA Cup scalp when Steve Marlet headed home an 88th minute equaliser for Fulham in the Third Round tie at Adams Park. In front of a record 9,921 gate, Wycombe had to come from behind after Sylvain Legwinski had opened the scoring a minute into the second-half. Andy Rammell was forced off with an injury moments later but it was Jermaine McSporran who was the catalyst for Wycombe's recovery. His burst of pace into the Fulham penalty area on 56 minutes forced Alain Goma into a trip and Steve Brown composed himself just enough to squeeze the spotkick past the dive of Fulham second choice 'keeper Maik Taylor. It got better for Wycombe eleven minutes later when Taylor and defender Andy Melville made a mess of Chris Vinnicombe's free-kick and when Dannie Bulman returned the ball from the right, Jermaine McSporran managed to swivel and fire home left footed from around ten yards.
Wycombe then lost Paul McCarthy through injury but looked to have survived the final onslaught from the Premiership visitors. However, Martin Taylor didn't get good contact on an awkward ball in from the right and when substitute Barry Hayles clipped the ball back in, Steve Marlet was there to force home a header at the far post and spoil the FA Cup dream. The two teams will now replay at Craven Cottage on Tuesday 15th January with the reward a Fourth Round trip to either York City or Grimsby Town.
Kick-off for the game at Adams Park was delayed for 15 minutes to allow the crowd to take their places in the biggest ever attendance recorded at the eleven year old stadium. They saw a Wycombe side that included both Andy Rammell and Paul McCarthy after the duo passed late fitness tests. There was a return to the starting line-up for midfield magician Darren Currie but Welsh whizkid Stuart Roberts had to settle for another place on the bench.
Wycombe were at their multi-million pound opponents from the off. Within the first 15 seconds McSporran had forced a foul just outside the right edge of the Fulham penalty area but Brown could only curl the resulting free-kick over the crossbar. The visitors responded on six minutes when Belgium midfielder Steed Malbranque saw a shot deflected wide of Martin Taylor's left hand post and moments later Louis Saha headed wide of the far post with the goal at his mercy following a corner from the Fulham right.
Most of the Woodlands Stand thought Wycombe had taken the lead on 8 minutes when Maik Taylor continued his comedy of errors at Adams Park, the ex-Barnet 'keeper kicking a back pass straight at the incoming McSporran but the ball ended the wrong side of the post.
Currie saw a shot deflected for a corner on 14 minutes and from Michael Simpson's resulting delivery, McCarthy headed wide of the far post. These attacks were certainly giving the big spenders plenty to think about and only a skimming effort by Legwinski on 22 minutes gave Martin Taylor the chance to make a save.
Rammell seemed to enjoy the challenge of coming up against a top class defence but he was unable to keep a header down from Currie's inviting cross from the right on 27 minutes. Meanwhile, Fulham never really settled and although their stars sometimes threatened to take control it nevear really happened.
It was Wycombe who finished the first-half much the stronger side. On 41 minutes Vinnicombe chipped in a free-kick from the left but the ball didn't fall right for Simpson and Maik Taylor was able to gather. Then on the stroke of 45 minutes Fulham made a real mess of a free-kick a few yards inside Wycombe's half but as McSporran raced through on goal down the right flank he snatched at his shot and the chance went begging.
Half-time 0-0
After finishing the first-half so well it was a real blow to concede within the opening minute of the re-start. It was a scrappy goal too. Fulham worked the ball in from their left wing before Brown miskicked his clearance as the ball was delivered low to edge of the Wycombe penalty area. It let in Legwinski who angled in a shot that, unknown to Mark Rogers, was going wide of the far post. Rogers stuck out a leg a cleared but the ball fell kindly back to the Frenchman and Wycombe were behind.
There was a further blow when Rammell was forced off seconds later with a reoccurance of an old injury. Keith Ryan replaced Rammell but the challenge was really on now for Wycombe. Legwinski continued to be a threat as he weaved in from the right side but Wycombe survived and soon got the break they deserved. On 54 minutes McSporran looked to be blatantly fouled by Alain Goma as he pressed the accelerator towards goal. Incredibly, referee Graham Barber gave nothing and there was a lengthy stoppage was McSporran was treated. Even more incredibly, McSporran returned to the action and within a minute had won a penalty when the same player cut his leg away as 'Jocky' penetrated the right side of the area.
Brown's penalty just squeezed past Taylor who guessed the right way to dive but saw the ball creep over the line, much to the relief of all concerned with The Wanderers.
Wycombe continued to battle and pass the ball well in midfield. Currie, sporting a cup special bond streak in his hair, saw a curling free-kick from 25 yards held by Taylor on the hour mark before McSporran raised the roof of Adams Park. McSporran's finish after Taylor's howler was simply brilliant, picking up the pieces from Bulman's delicate cross to turn a shot past the Fulham 'keeper at the second attempt.
Not surprisngly Wycombe closed ranks a little after the goal and then suffered another injury set-back when McCarthy struggled off to be replaced by Jason Cousins. Fulham sent on substitutes of their own and it was one, Barry Hayles, who went close on 82 minutes when he dragged an effort wide of Martin Taylor's right hand post.
Thoughts were just swaying towards a trip north in the Fourth Round when up popped Steve Marlet to head home and cheer the 2,000 travelling support from Fulham. A minute into stoppage time The Cottagers almost snatched a cruel winner but for the now standard wonder save from Martin Taylor after Sean Davis had driven in an effort from the edge of the box.
Another great cup match at Adams Park; Disappointing to only draw but then again they are a Premiership side. Wycombe will travel to Craven Cottage for the replay hoping for another memorable night in the Capital similar to the unforgetable battle with Wimbledon at Selhurst Park.
Final Score Wycombe 2 Fulham 2
Wycombe: Taylor, Senda, Rogers, McCarthy (sub 70 Cousins), Vinnicombe, Currie (sub 73 Carroll), Brown, Bulman, Simpson, Rammell (sub 47 Ryan), McSporran
subs not used: Roberts, Osborn
Yellow Cards: Senda (foul 92)
Fulham: Taylor, Finnan, Melville, Goma, Brevett, Legwinski, Collins (sub 69 Hayles), Malbranque, Knight (sub 69 Davis), Saha, Marlet
subs not used Van der Sar, Harley, Stolcers
Yellow Cards: Hayles (dissent 74)
Referee:Graham Barber (Tring) Attendance: 9,921 (Fulham 2068)
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