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Southend United 1
Sunday 26th December 2004
Football League 'League Two'
John Gorman Wanderers went down 1-0 to Southend United at an icebound Adams Park on Boxing Day afternoon. The only goal of the game came in the 17th minute when Freddy Eastwood skipped through the Wycombe defence down the right channel before sending a low shot inside Frank Talia's nearpost. The game was played in near farcical conditions after Wanderers' prestigious 500,000 worth of pitch with undersoil heating failed to come into operation on the evening prior to the game. The Club had originally said at 10.15am on the day of the match that the game would 'definitely be on' but a further pitch inspection was called by the referee at 2pm and the already undermanned turnstiles were not opened until the inspection had been completed, leaving several spectators still outside the ground at kick-off time. The conditions spoilt what could have been a decent game of football. It was the visitors who adapted better early on but Wanderers dominated the second-half and should have equalised on the hour mark when an Ian Stonebridge header was cleared off the line and Mike Williamson's close range follow-up header hit the post. Steve Guppy missed the game after phoning in with flu on Christmas Day. Nathan Tyson returned after his recent injury and Clint Easton made a brief appearance as substitute after two months out of action. Southend loanee Drewe Broughton was unavailable as The Shrimpers insisted he couldn't play against his own club.
Almost from the first kick of this match it was easy to tell that the pitch had not thawed out properly with players from both sides struggling to hold their feet. Craig Faulconbridge seemed to cope best for Wycombe and went close after five minutes with a low shot from the right that went just wide of the far post. But is was the visitors who made the vital breakthrough with a class finish from Eastwood. They could have doubled their lead on 27 minutes when Wayne Gray forced a good block from Talia after a shot from the left side of the penalty area. Wanderers best chance of the half came on 35 minutes when Danny Senda's corner from the right saw Faulconbridge meet the ball with his head at the near post but the crossbar came to Southend's rescue with the ball rebounding down and Tyson unable to get the vital touch to take the ball over the line.
Half-time Wycombe 0 Southend 1
Wanderers started the second-half in a more determined fashion. Tony Craig went close with an effort from the left channe; before Senda's cross from the right after 60 minutes culminated in Williamson's golden opportunity to level the scores. At the other end Andy Edwards saw a looping header hit the cross bar while on 65 minutes a trip on Senda just outside the left side of the penalty area gave Wycombe a free-kick that Senda delivered but Keith Ryan, making his 500th appearance for the Club, couldn't quite force his way through to meet. It proved to be Wanderers last real threat on the opponents goal as the unbeaten League run since the departure of Tony Adams came to and end. At the half-way stage of the season Wycombe find themselves in 8th place in the table with 34 points and still within touching distance of the play-off places and eight points behind the automatic promotion spots.
Final Score - Wycombe 0 Southend United 1
Speaking after the game both Managers admitted to not wanting the game to go ahead. Southend boss Steve Tilson told The Shrimpers official website "Neither side wanted to play the game at the start because it was so dangerous but the ref decided for some reason to play it. But I'm really pleased with the result in the end because they (Wycombe) are on a good run at the moment." He added "After they scored late on at Roots Hall earlier in the season you always fear the worst in that last ten minutes but in the end we held out well and I'm really pleased we got three points."
Meanwhile John Gorman commented to BBC Three Counties Radio "I thought the conditions were unplayable. I was just shocked that the referee wanted to play it because I asked him what if players get injured. He said that in his opinion it would get better because the undersoil heating was put on at a late stage, I think it was something like 1pm. I don't think it was enough time and in fact in the second-half it got more icier." However, Gorman addmitted the conditions didn't affect the outcome of the match, saying "It didn't affect the result because it was nothing to do with the goal. It was just a mental thing for both teams and I think for an away team there is less pressure on you. They were actually angry as well and I think it worked in their favour. They were adament that the game should not have gone ahead and it backfired on us to be honest." But the Wycombe boss was pleased with the way his side responded after the early set-back, adding "I thought they were the better side in the first half and got the goal. We then came back well. We took a while to get going and if I'm being honest I knew they were a good team and I knew we had a hard game on but I thought we responded very well in the second-half, we took the game to them and let's be honest if it wasn't for the woodwork and balls cleared off the line, we should have got the result."
Wycombe: Talia, Uhlenbeek, Johnson, Williamson, Craig, Cooke (sub 81 Easton), Ryan, Senda, Tyson, Stonebridge, Faulconbridge - subs not used: Silk, Nethercott, Williams, Bloomfield
Bookings: none
Scorers: none
Southend: Griemink, Hunt, Edwards, Barrett, Wilson, Pettefer, Maher, Bentley, Gower (sub HT Dudfield), Gray, Eastwood - subs not used: Nicolau, Flahavan, Bramble, Corbett
Bookings: Edwards (foul 65)
Scorers: Eastwood (17)
Referee: P Melin Attendance: 5,669 (away end 800 approx)
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