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Many Wanderers fans amongst the sizeable following at Sixfields were confused when a bizarre five across the back formation was announced. Wycombe's five man defence included Chris Vinnicombe who returned after his two match ban and he was joined by new signing Andy Thomson. Steve Brown came back into the midfield for Wycombe with Darren Currie and Ben Townsend dropped to the bench. Jermaine McSporran had to make do with another place on the bench while Welsh winger Stuart Roberts was a mysterious omission from the squad.
Despite the formation Wycombe ran the show in the first half against a nervous and quite simply appalling Northampton side and it was no surprise when Gavin Holligan opened the scoring on 15 minutes. The youngster ran through from the right side of midfield before shaking of the challenge of Ian Sampson and slotting the ball past Keith Welch and into the far corner of the net. Seven minutes earlier Andy Rammell should have done better when he flicked a header wide of the far post after Vinnicombe had crossed from the left wing. However, after Holligan had scored Wycombe looked comfortable while the home side rarely even got close to the target. Indeed, one of the scarier moments for Martin Taylor was when he had to rush from his line to head a Paul McCarthy back pass away from former Wanderer Sam Parkin.
Wanderers were dealt a blow eight minutes before the break when Dannie Bulman was forced to leave the pitch following an ankle injury as a result of a tackle with Chris Hargreaves. Bulman was replaced by Keith Ryan. The first-half ended on a fiery note when a late tackle by Holligan on John Frain saw the Wycombe player enter the referee's notebook.
Half-time Northampton 0 Wycombe 1
On the seven previous occasions Wycombe have been ahead at half-time in a League game in 2001/2 they have gone in to take all three points. However, on this occasion it was a completely different story. Cobblers boss Kevan Broadhurst switched the formation of his side to take advantage of Wycombe's deep formation and it paid dividends.
The equaliser came just six minutes into the second-half when a throw from the left wing wasn't dealt with by Wycombe's statue like defence and after Marco Gabbiadini had seen his header come back off the crossbar, Hargreaves was there to follow up with a header of his own.
In rare second-half attack Wycombe could have restored their lead a minute later. Danny Senda created the chance by getting clear down the right wing and Holligan was unfortunate to see his near post header tipped around the post by Welch.
But all the serious action was at the other end. Martin Taylor was adjudged to have fouled Hargreaves just outside the Wycombe penalty area on 57 minutes in what looked like a 50-50 ball. Taylor was booked for the tackle and then grateful to push the resulting free-kick around the far post.
However, it was a temporary reprieve for the Wycombe 'keeper as on 65 minutes a throw from the right ended with a delivery into the box that Hargreaves rose to thump a header past the bemused Taylor.
By this time Wycombe had simply stopped making any worthwhile contribution to proceedings. Substitutions of McSporran for Holligan and Currie for Brown made little difference and on 79 minutes an inswinging corner from the left by James Hunt was headed goalwards by Daryl Burgess and Jamie Forrester was on hand to stick the ball home from close range.
Wycombe misery was completed on 84 minutes when Cobblers substitute Chris Carruthers walked past Senda on the left wing before curling in a spectacular effort over the head of Taylor . The Wycombe 'keeper signed a new two year deal the day before this game but like Lawrie Sanchez and the rest of the squad, the end of the season can't come quick enough.
Final Score Northampton 4 Wycombe 1
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