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Mansfield Town 1
Saturday 23rd October 2004
Football League 'League Two'
Adam Birchall - equaliser versus Mansfield Wanderers drew 1-1 at home for the third consecutive time - Mansfield Town being the latest opponents to frustrate Tony Adams' side. On a wet afternoon it was the visitors who took the lead a minute into the second-half when Derek Asamoah slotted home after the Wanderers defence were split by a quick exchange on the Mansfield left. Wycombe forced their way back into the game on the hour mark when Adam Birchall converted from the right side of the penalty area. Team news for Wycombe saw Stuart Nethercott return after his two match ban while new loan signing Tony Craig went straight in at left back after he had signed from Nethercott's former club on Friday morning. Danny Senda overcame a groin strain to play but Clint Easton missed out having required 25 stitches in a gashed knee from the Rushden game. Ian Stonebridge returned to the starting line-up to partner Nathan Tyson up front as Tony Adams looked for a more settled attacking partnership. Wanderers drop to 12th place in the table and are one point behind 7th placed Mansfield and seven points behind new leaders Scunthorpe United.
Overall this was a fairly scrappy affair with conditions under foot not making things easy for the players. After Tyson had flicked a header wide in the 3rd minute from Craig's cross, goalmouth action was limited until the 27th minute when Tyson didn't connect properly with an overhead kick. A flurry of action before the break livened the crowd on a miserable day. First on 37 minutes Birchall slipped the ball across from the left wing to Danny Senda who then switched it to Gary Silk on the opposite wing and the resulting cross to the far post was headed wide by Ian Stonebridge. Moments later at the other end Alex Neil sent in a low shot from right of centre that Frank Talia dived to save and grabbed at the 2nd attempt on the greasy surface. Then from the resulting clearance Stonebridge's lob didn't quite have enough accuracy on it to find the target.
Half-time 0-0
Wanderers had a wake up call within a minute of the restart when Asamoah netted with the Wycombe defence all at sea. The same player almost doubled The Stags lead two minutes later when his snap shot was brilliantly saved by Talia - the Aussie diving to his left to push the ball away.
Birchall's goal on the hour came after a foul on Stonebridge close to the left corner of the Mansfield penalty area. Joe Burnell swung in the free-kick and the Arsenal reserve striker picked his spot with to style to send the ball back into the opposite corner of the Valley End net.
Talia showed his bird handling skills in the 65th minute when he was called upon to collect a distressed Partridge who was getting the biggest cheer of the day for its constant running in midfield. Talia made a more conventional save on 74 minutes, again from the ever dangerous Asamoah but Wycombe went on to dominate the closing stages and could have snatched victory.
Stuart Nethercott slid an effort wide from Senda's left wing cross on 76 minutes and a minute later Birchall's cross from the left was nodded wide by Tyson at the far post. Senda forced a save from Kevin Pilkington in The Stags goal with eight minutes left on the clock with a low shot from just left of midfield, while in the second minute of stoppage time Burnell's free-kick from the left following the the last of numerous fouls on Tyson, went within inches of hitting the target and grabbing a dramatic winner.
Final Score - Wycombe 1 Mansfield 1
Speaking to BBC 3 Counties after the game Tony Adams said he was happy again with the performance and the enery levels put in by his players. Adams was also impressed with his new loan signing from Millwall, commenting "I thought Tony Craig was excellent today. I think he was resillient. I was delighted with the guy's performance and his debut was excellent and he has set the standard now. He kicks it and he's a good defender and for me he did that side of the job very well today. The balance of the team is much better with a left footer there." The Wycombe boss also hinted in the post match press conference that he was looking towards a more settled line-up in the forthcoming games, adding "I need to get foundations laid and I'm not going to do that by changing systems and personnel, it's time to be solid."
Wycombe: Talia, Silk, Craig, Williamson, Nethercott, Senda, Burnell, Bloomfield, Birchall, Stonebridge, Tyson - subs not used: Uhlenbeek, Johnson, Ryan, Abbey, Williams
Bookings: Nethercott (foul 11), Silk (foul 83)
Scorers: Birchall (60)
This was Gary Silk's fifth yellow card of the season and in accordance with the new FA fast track system, he will serve a one match ban versus Darlington on Saturday 30th October.
Mansfield: Pilkington, McNiven, Woodman, Baptiste, Artell, Neil (sub 86 Corden), Curtis, Dimech, Larkin, Ipoua (sub 67 O'Neill), Asamoah - subs not used White, Buxton, MacKenzie
Bookings: none
Scorers: Asamoah (46)
Referee: Ray Olivier Attendance: 4,215 (away end 410)
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