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Wycombe Wanderers 2
Saturday 31st December 2005
Football League 'League Two'
Tommy Mooney - brace against Rovers Wanderers maintained their lead at the top of 'League Two' with an impressive 2-1 victory in the 1.30pm kick-off at Bristol Rovers on New Year's Eve. Wanderers got off to another flying start with a 4th minute penalty conversion by Tommy Mooney after a Rovers defender had handled Mooney's shot. Charlie Griffin was guilty of missing two golden opportunities to extend Wycombe's lead before the break but it was Mooney on target again a minute after the restart when he snapped up an effort from six yards after Rovers 'keeper Scott Shearer could only parry a Griffin cross. The home side came back strongly in the latter stages with former Wycombe loanee Richard Walker sending an overhead kick over Frank Talia on the hour mark to set-up an exciting climax to the game. Walker and former Northampton Town striker Jamie Forrester both went close to equalising for the home side but Wanderers held on and could have snatched a third but for another close range miss by Griffin. However, the important fact is that Wycombe grab three more important points in their most successful holiday period since joining the Football League.
Team news for Wycombe at The Memorial Stadium saw Danny Senda return to the side following his one match ban. Youngster Russell Martin, who deputised in Senda's absence was given the nod over Clint Easton on the opposite flank, with Easton moving to the bench. Meanwhile, Rob Lee returned to midfield in place of Joe Burnell whp picked up a knock in the game with Leyton Orient on 28th December.
Lee, just a month away from his 40th birthday, was a dominate figure in the Wanderers midfield over the ninety minutes but it was fellow midfielder Stefan Oakes who played a major part in Wanderers' opening goal in the 4th minute. Oakes sprayed a 40 yard plus pass to Kevin Betsy down the right wing and when the cross fell to Mooney on the edge of the penalty his shot struck the hand of Rovers defender Craig Hinton and with referee Joslin pointed to the spot. Mooney calmy slotted in the penalty to give Wycombe the lead and silence the Rovers fans in the 6,828 attendance.
The home side responded with Steve Elliott seeing a free-kick deflected over but the Wanderers defence managing to shut out the threat from the resulting corner. At the other end Griffin missed the first of his chances on 24 minutes when he managed to avoid the target from Mooney's low cross. Six minutes later the near 600 following of Wanderers fans were left frustrated again as Griffin headed fractionally wide, this time from Senda's delivery.
There were scares for Wycombe as the half drew to a close. On 36 minutes Craig Disley wasted a chance when he delivered his cross too far towards the far post, while a minute later Roger Johnson lost possession to Walker with Frank Talia attempting to come for the loose ball before Mike Williamson eventually cleared.
Rovers were forced to replace Junior Agogo at the break due to injury and the home side's fortunes were further dented on 46 minutes when Mooney made it 2-0. The build up saw Betsy hook the ball to Griffin on the right whose cross was parried by Shearer in the Rovers goal but only as far as Mooney who made no mistake in heading home his 12th goal of the campaign.
Disley missed another good chance to get the home side back into the game before Walker's hooked effort with his back to goal made for a nervous closing 30 minutes for the Wycombe contingent. The goal came just after Jamie Forrester had been introduced as substitue and along with Walker he put the Wanderers defence to the test. Talia saved from Walker before John Gorman attempted to sure up the defence by moving Martin into the midfield and bringing on Easton into his now familiar left back role.
The changes quelled the home side for a period and Wycombe could have made things safe around the 80 minute mark when Easton's free-kick was squared across the face of the goal by the head of Johnson only for Griffin to direct his own header wide of the post.
Rovers then came back strong again in the closing stages that included three minutes of stoppage time. But Wycombe held out for another impressive away victory, Wanderers' sixth of the season in 'League Two'.
Final Score - Bristol Rovers 1 Wycombe 2
Speaking to BBC Three Counties Radio after the game, Wanderers boss John Gorman addmitted he knew it was going to a tough game. He said "I've watched Bristol Rovers and they are playing a good style of football now, passing the ball. It's not the greatest of pitches to do that but credit to them for what they are trying to achieve. But in the first half I thought we were a different class. I know we got a break with the penalty but we got it and deserved to go in probably two goals up at half-time. We had two great chances to finish the game but not really finish it because knowing us it's never really finished." Gorman said his players had to dig deep against a side that never gave up, adding, People like Rob Lee were absolutely stalwart in the centre of midfield for us. Tommy Mooney, obviously up front, but our centre half's had to play their hearts out because their two centre forwards are decent and they changed at half-time as well." The Wycombe boss also praised Stefan Oakes for his part in the move that led to the penalty, "With Stefan I just take it for granted. I think he is the best passer of the ball in the country and don't see anybody in the Premier League any better than that. I can't see anybody in Chelsea's team that can put a ball like he can on a sixpence. He might be different in other ways but he produces passes of excellence."
Wycombe: Talia, Senda, Martin, Williamson, Johnson, Oakes (sub 68 Easton), Betsy, Lee, Bloomfield, Mooney, Griffin (sub 82 Dixon) - subs not used: Williams, Philo, Torres
Bookings: Bloomfield (61 dissent)
Scorers: Mooney (6 pen, 46)
Bristol Rovers: Shearer, Carruthers, Elliott, Hinton, Lescott, Campbell, Hunt, Disley (sub 72 Mullings), Gibb (sub 60 Forrester), Walker, Agogo (sub HT Haldane) - subs not used: Edwards, Book
Bookings: Lescott (43 foul), Elliott (75 foul)
Scorers: Walker (61)
Referee: Mr P Joslin Attendance: 6,828 (562 away sections)
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