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After the previous weekend's disaster at home to Bournemouth, Lawrie Sanchez fielded a strong line-up against last season's Southern Area Finalists. There was also a return to the more favoured 4-4-2 formation with Mark Rogers returning in the right-back spot while Ben Townsend was on the opposite flank. Steve Brown and Mo Harkin were the newcomers in midfield with Danny Senda, Keith Ryan and Jermaine McSporran relegated to the bench. Jamie Bates was rested as a safeguard against a possible suspension from a fifth yellow card.
Wycombe should have been ahead after 3 minutes when = Brown squared from the left to Andy Rammell who then slipped the ball to Sam Parkin but the Chelsea loanee was forced wide by Grecians 'keeper Stuart Fraser. From the resulting corner Jason Cousins' header was tipped over by Fraser.
From what turned out to be a rare Exeter attack, Kevin Rapley mis-kicked after gangley ex-Birmingham and Stockport striker Kevin Francis headed down.
Wycombe continued their assault on the Exeter goal in the 10th minute when a 30 yard run from Harkin ended with a shot wide of the target. Three minutes later the hardworking Bulman delivered a low ball in from the right and Brown looked certain to score but Fraser made a great block as 'Brownie' skidded in. Townsend got into the act on 15 minutes when he saw a 35 yard effort saved with reasonable ease by Fraser.
It looked like Fraser would finally be beaten in the 21st minute when Harkin's cross from the left saw the Grecian's 'keeper tip Parkin's header onto the post but he then get up to push away Rammell's follow up on the opposite side of the goal to the amazement of the onlooking Valley End faithful.
There were more chances to come before the break. Again Harkin was presented with a one-on-one with the 'keeper but a poor first touch allowed Fraser to add another save to his collection for the night.
Typically it was a break away goal that nearly gave the visitors the lead as half-time approached but Paul McCarthy showed he is still a quality defender by shutting out Christian Roberts' snap shot from 12 yards.
Wycombe's frustration in front of goal continued into the second-half. Cousins cross from the right on 52 minutes found the head of Parkin but the ball ended on the top of the Exeter net. Four minutes later Townsend played through Parkin on the opposite flank but Fraser was alert to block with his feet.
A double substitution by Wycombe on 62 minutes turned out to be an important factor in the final result. McSporran and Thompson were introduced for Parkin and Harkin but initially it looked like The Grecians might steal a highly unlikely victory. In the 76th minute Rapley cut in from the right and curled an effort that shaved Martin Taylor's right-hand post. Then with seven minutes left substitute Graham Tomlinson pulled a short wide as The Grecians small but enthusiastic band of supporters made themselves heard amongst a crowd barely touching 1,000.
With the prospect of extra-time and penalties looming large it was some neat footwork from McSporran that set up Thompson for the winner and send Wycombe into the Second Round. Relief all around for Wycombe but Thompson's injury may turn out to be a high price to pay for a result in a competition that only the diehards have any interest.
Full-time Wycombe 1 Exeter City 0
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