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Luton Town 3
Saturday 4th December 2004
FA Cup Second Round
FA Cup 'League One' leaders Luton Town proved too strong for Wycombe as they went away from Adams Park with a 3-0 victory in John Gorman's first game in charge. The Hatters took the lead in the 20th minute when Steve Howard headed the ball over Frank Talia with Wanderers claiming offside. Wanderers best spell came following the break but the game was effectively killed off in the 70th minute when Kevin Nicholls sent a great low strike from 25 yards past Talia. With Wycombe pushing forward, Howard completed their victory when he headed over Talia at the far post after Ahmet Brkovic had crossed from the right bye-line.
John Gorman named an unchanged side to the one that had beaten Bristol Rovers in the League seven days previous but almost from the first kick it was obvious that Luton were going to be far tougher opponents. Talia was forced to push away a Nicholls effort in the second minute and the Wycombe 'keeper also had to alert in the 17th minute to palm aside a similar attempt at the Valley End goal. Inbetween a Steve Guppy corner from the left in the 12th minute flew across the face of the goal.
The Hatters opener proved controversial when Brkovic's pass over the top found Howard who looped his header over a stranded Talia. The linesman in front of the Old Main Stand took some stick for not raising his flag for what was a marginal decision.
Nathan Tyson went closest to an equaliser for Wycombe in the 32nd minute when his pace took him into the left corner of the penalty area before delivering a low shot that Hatters' keeper Marlon Beresford got down sharply to save. Five minutes later Gus Uhlenbeek's cross from the right bye-line skimmed off the face of the cross-bar. However, Luton confirmed their strength as they created further chances to extend their lead before the break with Stephen O'Leary going close twice within a minute.
Half-time Wycombe 0 Luton 1
Danny Senda's run into the box four minutes after the re-start raised expectations with the home crowd but the familiar site of a well organised Luton defence shut out the final shot. At the other end the visitors were claiming that Roger Johnson had shoved Howard in the penalty area but referee Paul Danson wasn't interested.
A Guppy corner from the left on 64 minutes was dummied by Senda before Tony Craig fired his shot over the crossbar. A minute later Craig Faulconbridge was introduced for Ian Stonebridge but as Wycombe began to push more players up front they were caught out with a neat passing move from the visitors that was finished in style from the left channel by Nicholls.
Faulconbridge looked lively in the closing stages, while Johnson was pushed up front as Wycombe never gave up the chase. However, any thoughts of a dramatic comeback were ended when Howard headed past Talia for the second time in the tie to confirm Luton's place in the Third Round. For Wycombe it's time to 'concentrate on the League'.
Final Score - Wycombe 0 Luton Town 3
Speaking after the game to BBC Three Counties Radio John Gorman said he was disappointed with losing but admitted it was always going to be a hard game to win against a team top of the next division up. He commented "We would have had to play exceptionally well. We didn't start very well which I was disappointed in but I still felt that we were building. They got up and at us but at the same time they didn't create many chances. I was really disappointed in the first goal, I thought from where we were it looked offside. Our centre-half thought it was offside. I hate to play offside and wish we just stayed with our men and I think we would have prevented a goal but they are young lads and they are learning." The new Wycombe boss said that the half-time interval had given himself and new assistant Steve Brown the chance "to get into them a wee bit and get organised." He added "We started the second-half in a really good fashion. We had a right go at them and were very positive. You could only see us being the team that would get a goal. But because of their quality they get a chance and they always looked dangerous."
Meanwhile Luton boss Mike Newell was well satisfied with his side's performance but commented on Wycombe's spell after the break, ""They put us under a lot of pressure, second-half, for ten or fifteen minutes. We managed to get the second goal at a crucial time because they were getting a little bit on top of us and it was an excellent second goal and an excellent first goal and we finished it off at the end of the day."
Despite the defeat John Gorman told his players after the game that there were plus points from the game, "I've told the lads today that I've felt very positive about the game and there are things to build on. I'm certainly not going to get too depressed about it because I really believe that if we play like we did in the second-half our League teams then we will be the winners."
Wycombe: Talia, Silk (sub 78 Nethercott), Uhlenbeek, Johnson, Williamson, Craig, Senda, Ryan, Guppy (sub 87 Bloomfield), Tyson, Stonebridge (sub 65 Faulconbridge) - subs not used: Martin, Williams
Bookings: Uhlenbeek (foul 28), Silk (foul 57)
Scorers: none
Luton Town: Beresford, Keane, Davis, Davies, Coyne, Brkovic (sub 83 Showunmi), O'Leary, Nicholls, Underwood, Howard, Vine (sub 84 Andrew) - subs not used: Seremet, Holmes, Bayliss
Bookings: Underwood (foul 62)
Scorers: Howard (20, 80), Nicholls (70)
Referee: Paul Danson Attendance: 4,767 (away end 1724)
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