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Wycombe Wanderers 1
Monday 21st April 2003
Football League Division Two
Vital goal by Richard Harris
Richard Harris scored his fifth goal for Wycombe in just three starts
A vital 57th minute headed goal by Richard Harris saw Wanderers take a point at Port Vale on Easter Monday and with Cheltenham, Chesterfield and Huddersfield all dropping points, Wycombe have virtually been assured to play Division Two football again next season. Of the four bottom teams only Cheltenham can catch Wycombe's current points total of 51 and the Gloucestershire side have a goal difference that is eleven inferior to Wycombe.
For the game at Vale Park Lawrie Sanchez made two changes to the side that had drew with Cheltenham the previous Saturday. Darren Currie and Jonny Dixon were dropped to the bench and the incoming Richard Harris and Stuart Roberts formed a partnership upfront and Keith Ryan moved back to midfield.
Wanderers were on the back foot from the off. In the third minute Stephen McPhee got past Chris Vinnicombe down the right wing but Ian Armstrong sliced his effort wide from around six yards.
But there was no let off for Wycombe in the 5th minute when McPhee got past Vinnicombe again and Adrian Littlejohn had the simple task of stroking the ball home as he was left unmarked on the edge of the six yard box from Armstrong's square pass.
Vale Manager switched his side's formation from three up front to a traditional 4-4-2 following the goal and it meant that Wycombe really struggled to make any impression up front and but for a good block by Frank Talia, Armstrong could have extended the lead for the home side.
Vale continued to dominate until a 25th minute incident turned the game - a dreadful two footed challenge by Neil Brisco on Steve Brown seeing the Vale player rightly earn a straight red card. Michael Simpson earned a booking for his involvement in the aftermath and not to be outdone John Durnin went into the referee's book for dissent.
Wanderers best effort in the first half came through a speculative shot by Danny Senda which Mark Goodlad let slip through his arms but Sam Collins was there to clear the ball off the line. Wycombe then nearly conceded on the break with Vinnicombe lucky to escape with just a yellow card after he brought down Adrian Littlejohn.
Half-time Port Vale 1 Wycombe 0
Wanderers had ended the first half in a flurry and came out in the second-half looking like they meant business. Within a couple of minutes of the restart Brown, playing his final game of the season before suspension, saw Goodlad gather his long range effort at the second attempt. Vale had a couple more half chances before a push on Brown by McPhee in the 57th minute gave Wanderers a free-kick out on the left wing. The resuling kick was swung in by Simpson and it was Andy Thomson who got a flick on before Harris provided the final headed touch to take the ball over the line at the far post.
It was just the lift Wycombe needed and three minutes it took a brilliant reaction save from Goodlad to keep out Senda's volley. Dixon replaced Roberts on 68 minutes before Simpson saw an effort from the edge of the box saved once again by Goodlad.
Currie replaced Brown shortly afterwards and while 'Brownie' incensed the locals with his warm-down it was Currie's pass that gave Harris a chance for his second but the ex-Palace man didn't connect well with ball.
There were a few scary moments for Wycombe in the dying moments when corners in quick succession saw a couple of scrambles in the Wanderers penalty area and the ball eventually being hacked off the line by Chris Vinnicombe.
Wanderers can breath a bit more easier now after a dreadful run of results pushed them into an untimely relegation battle. With those fears over, the feel good factor would be improved considerably by beating old rivals Colchester United at Adams Park on Saturday 26th April.
Final Score Port Vale 1 Wycombe 1
Wycombe: Talia, Senda, Vinnicombe, Thomson, Johnson, Simpson, Ryan, Bulman, Brown (sub 74 Currie), Roberts (sub 68 Dixon), Harris - subs not used: Oliver, Cook, Simpemba
Yellow Cards: Simpson (ungentlemanly conduct 25), Vinnicombe (foul 36), Brown (foul 44)
Port Vale: Goodlad, Clarke, Collins, Carragher, Brightwell, Cummins, Brisco, Armstrong (sub 84 Paynter), Durnin (sub 57 Brooker), McPhee, Littlejohn (sub 57 Charnock) - subs not used: Delaney, Walsh
Yellow Cards: Cummins (dissent 26), Carragher (foul 83)
Red Card: Brisco (serious foul play 25)
Referee: Howard Webb Attendance: 3,590 (approx 150 away end)
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