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Rushden and Diamonds 2
Sunday 28th December 2003
Football League Division Two
Keith Ryan gets in a shot against Rushden Wanderers ended 2003 with yet another home defeat - this time succumbing to a workmanlike performance from a Rushden side who were gifted a two goal lead by the half-time break. Wycombe never looked like getting back into the match and it will be the performance that will be the most worrying aspect of this game for Wanderers followers. Following the game Wanderers' boss Tony Adams was critical of some of his squad as he attempted to answer those questioning his team selection.
After the depressing 4-0 reverse at Brighton on Boxing Day it was hoped that Tony Adams would have been able to pick up his team for the visit of Brian Talbot's side. However, there was little spark in a Wanderers line-up with five changes from the one that crashed at Brighton. In came Youth Teamer Andy Reilly at left back for the injured Chris Vinnicombe, while Danny Senda got his first start for six games on the opposite flank in preference to Mark Rogers. New signing Matt Bloomfield and Charlie Mapes were preferred in midfield to Darren Currie and Michael Simpson, while Ian Simpemba continued in the centre of defence instead of Roger Johnson. For Bloomfield and Reilly it was their Football League debut, making it ten players that Wanderers have given that honour to this season.
The recent home victory over Bournemouth had raised hopes of Wycombe revival but all those thoughts were put on hold as Wanderers found themselves 1-0 down inside the opening four minutes when Rodney Jack was allowed room on the left flank before slotting past the advancing Steve Williams. The Wycombe 'keeper went on to make saves later in the half to prevent the visitors from increasing their lead but he'll want to forget about his decision to come for a stray ball on the left wing in the 35th minute. 'Willo' failed to clear properly and Jack was able to pick his spot to return the ball into an unguarded Wanderers net.
It proved to be game over for the Wanderers who had been only able to create a handful of half chances up to this point. The first real goalbound effort from Wycombe came in the 18th minute when Charlie Mapes had a run from midfield before sending his shot from around 20 yards wide of the right hand upright. On 30 minutes Mapes crossed from the right bye-line but Luke Moore shot wide of the near post, while Keith Ryan's hopeful effort from 20 yards in first half stoppage time did little to raise hopes of a potential comeback.
Half-time Wycombe 0 Rushden 2
Dannie Bulman was introduced for Mapes at the half-time interval and although it gave Wanderers a bit more bite in midfield the visitors didn't need to get out of first gear to contain Wycombe's efforts at goal.
The tireless Ryan got in another shot on 67 minutes from Moore's lay-off and two minutes later it was Ryan again who battled to win the ball in midfield before finding Jermaine McSporran on the left but Rushden were able to cover.
The introduction of Stuart Roberts and Andy Bell temporarily injected some creativeness into the Wycombe display but when Senda knocked Bell's cross from the right wide with eight minutes remaining it proved to be Wanderers last chance to salvage any pride from a downbeat performance.
Final Score - Wycombe 0 Rushden 2
Wanderers now have just 16 points from their opening 24 Division Two games this season and only the eternal optimist will be able to see anything but a drop to Division Three. However, it will be the post match press conference that will grab most of the headlines from this match. During interviews conducted for BBC Three Counties Radio and the Bucks Free Press, Tony Adams explained the changes to the side he put out against Rushden. Roger Johnson's absence was put down to the fact the he was red carded against Brighton for foul and abusive language, Adams commenting "Roger’s got to learn quickly.", before adding "I wanted to try and freshen things up and who’s my best right-back, Danny Senda or Mark Rogers? Mark’s had a few go's and Danny’s come in today."
But it was the exclusion of midfielders Darren Currie and Michael Simpson which will raise the most debate amongst Wycombe followers. Currie had been ever present in the League prior to the game with Rushden while Simpson had missed just two games through suspension and injury. Adams' response to whether the duo would be disappointed on being left out was "Do you think they warrant their place then? Because they’ve got 16 points from 23 games. Does anybody in that team warrant their place?".
Adams went on to clarify his position at Wycombe, saying "I consider my future in the direction that I’m taking this team. I pretty much know that I’ve got about seven players that may be staying next season but I think that number is going down with each game," before adding that players like Currie and Simpson should be "very afraid". In Simpson in particular Adams went on to say "Well we’re going to be using him again from now until the end of the season and we’ll see whether we’re still in the league. He might be club captain of a Third Division team.". Asked whether he was resigned to relegation, Adams responded "I think some of the players are. I think those two lads you’ve just mentioned might be." But Adams assured he was not resigned to the drop, concluding "I keep fighting until the last and that’s why they weren’t in the team. It really does astonish me that you think that any player with that kind of record could warrant a place in the team."
Wycombe: Williams, Senda, Reilly, Taylor, Bloomfield (sub 78 Bell), Simpemba, Mapes (sub HT Bulman), Ryan, Faulconbridge, McSporran, Moore (sub 72 Roberts)- subs not used: Talia, Rogers
Bookings: Bloomfield (foul 24)
Rushden: Ashdown, Sambrook, Dempster, Hunter, Bignot, Hall (sub 72 Talbot), Burgess (sub 60 Bell), Hanlon, Jack, Kitson, Benjamin - subs not used: Story, Okuonghae, Akinfenwa
Bookings: Sambrook (foul 58)
Scorer: Jack (4, 35)
Referee: Mr Paul Danson Attendance: 5,421 (569 away section)
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