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Wycombe were without the services of Dave Carroll and Michael Simpson (both suspended), while fellow midfielder Keith Ryan is being rested for the remainder of the season. Steve Brown shook off a niggling knee injury to join a three man midfield alongside Dannie Bulman and Martyn Lee - the latter making his first start of the season. Lawrie Sanchez bravely played a three pronged attack with Jermaine McSporran and Danny Senda either side of top scorer Sean Devine. The gamble nearly paid off as Wycombe dominated the vast majority of the opening 45 minutes. McSporran, Devine, Bulman and another long range effort from Brown saw Wycombe go close to taking the lead, while The Royals best chance on 27 minutes was thwarted by a last ditch challenge by Jamie Bates.
The home side had started like a house on fire. After 2 minutes Neil Smith flashed a chance inches wide of Martin Taylor's right-hand post while moments later Jamie Bates had to be alert to clear a cross from the right bye-line from Darren Caskey. Caskey was then denied by Taylor from ten yards as the Royals striker was presented with a clear view of goal.
The heated exchanges started as early as the 12th minute when Darius Henderson clashed with Paul McCarthy after a heavy challenge on Martyn Lee - both players ended with yellow cards as Bulman and Mark Rogers did well to try and calm the situation.
The Wanderers best chances of the half and as it turned out the whole game, started in the 14th minute when a clever McSporran back-heel let in Senda at the near post but the finish wasn't forthcoming. Two minutes later McSporran weaved before pulling his shot wide of the target and then Bulman screwed a shot wide from Lee's squared pass. Devine's knee almost earned him his 24th League goal of the season when he connected with a McSporran shot from the edge of the Reading penalty area on 25 minutes.
'Brownies' long ranger for the day came in the 30th minute after Rogers had worked the ball in from the right before Devine laid the ball back - however, there was no Colchester type celebration as Howie managed to parry the effort clear.
A hot-headed Peter Grant picked up a yellow card on 34 minutes for a rash challenge from behind on Steve Brown and that was to prove costly for The Royals player. Martin Butler went in the book for a high and dangerous challenge on Martin Taylor, then during first-half stoppage time Grant nicked Senda as he approached the Royals penalty area and referee Phil Richards has no hesitation in producing his second yellow.
Unfortunately for Wycombe the decision only went to encourage the home side as their powerful front-line of Butler and Forster began to cause problems for the weakened Wycombe side. Ten minutes into the second-half Forster got the better of Bates down the right-wing and after taking the ball to narrow angle, the ex-Cambridge United fired low past Taylor into the opposite corner of the net..
Wycombe got back into the game nine minutes later when a misunderstanding between Royals defender Linvoy Primus and 'keeper Scott Howie let McSporran in, whose touch drifted the ball into the net much to the delight of the 1,000 plus travelling fans from Wycombe.
However, Reading regained their lead after 72 minutes when a long throw from the left was headed on by Adrian Williams and then headed home by Royals substitute Martin Williams despite a gallant attempt to block by Martin Taylor.
By this time it seemed that Wycombe had simply run out of steam although a flurry in the dying minutes gave hope to travelling fans who had made themselves heard throughout the ninety minutes, even though the drummers had their instruments confiscated before kick-off. Meanwhile, the home side had to rely on a second-rate Salvation Army to contrive their atmosphere as stadium regulations baffled again.
A disappointing result for Wycombe fans but a gritty display against a side with infinitely more resources. With a little better finishing The Wanderers could have gone away with all three points and confirmed a top ten placing ahead of The Royals. Now with two games left (Luton at home and Cambridge away), it's going to be tight.
Final Score Reading 2 Wycombe 1
Wycombe Team: Taylor, Vinnicombe, McCarthy, Bates (sub 74 Cousins), Rogers, Bulman, Lee, Senda (sub 84 Harkin), Brown, Devine, McSporran subs not used Brady, Beeton, Westhead Att:11,834
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Sean Devine still flying high in the shooting charts - also caught offside the most too!
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