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|1993-1994-RESULTS, SCORERS, ATTENDANCES - MORE REPORTS||1993-1994 RETRO INDEX|
Wycombe Wanderers 2
Saturday 1st January 1994
Football League Division Three
Wanderers began 1994 with a lacklustre display at 5th placed Walsall that had Martin O'Neill admitting he had "a bit of set to after the game" with the players. Andy Kerr started his first match since October in place of the injured Matt Crossley, while David Titterton replaced Duncan Horton at left-back as he started his first game in three months. Meanwhile Hakan Hayrettin was rested in favour of Simon Stapleton whose previous First Team game had been the August meeting with Chester City at Adams Park.
Wycombe, backed by a following of more than 1,600, were 2-0 down within 18 minutes - Rodney McDonald scoring from close range in the 8th minute while a mistake by Kerr resulted in Chris Marsh knocking the ball past Paul Hyde.
Wycombe pulled a goal back on 24 minutes through Tony Hemmings but the home side restored their two goal advantage on the stroke of half-time when an unmarked Kyle Lightbourne headed home. Eleven minutes after the re-start it was 4-1 as Jason Lillis scored. Hemmings scored another goal five minutes from time after Steve Guppy's free-kick was knocked back into the area by on-loan Lee Hodges. The Spurs player was making his Wycombe debut after coming on as a second-half substitute. But Hemmings strike was merely a consolation for a Wycombe side suffering only their second away League defeat of the season.
Bucks Free Press - Nick Goodman reporting from The Bescot Stadium:
Defensive lapses contributed to Wycombe’s downfall in this pulsating New Year’s Day match. Wanderers boss Martin O’Neill rang the changes at Walsall on Saturday. But Wycombe leaked. They were 2-0 down within 18 minutes.
Defender Andy Kerr, in for injured Matt Crossley, said: “I was pleased to play but just not pleased with the result. They are a good side and played well today.” Left back David Titterton, who replaced Duncan Horton, started his first senior game for three months. “The goals were bad goals to give away,” he said. Not even a Tony Hemmings brace was enough to pull Wanderers back in front of Walsall’s biggest crowd of the season. “Walsall are a good side but we gifted a couple of New Year presents to them,” said O’Neill.
The manager rested central midfielder Hakan Hayrettin to give Simon Stapleton, who had not played a first-team game for four months after rupturing ankle ligaments, a game. He played in his usual central midfield role for the most of the game before becoming part of a three-man defence as Wycombe changed to 3-5-2.
“He got tired in the match which was inevitable,” remarked O’Neill. “He didn’t surprise me and didn’t really disappoint me either.” The man Stapleton displaced, Hayrettin, said: “I have got no complaints about Stapleton playing — none at all. It is up to me to get my place back.” Another new face was Lee Hodges, on-loan from Tottenham, who came off the substitutes’ bench to set up Wycombe’s second goal. Walsall outplayed Wycombe in midfield. Stapleton and Keith Ryan struggled to impose their authority, while wingers Dave Carroll and Steve Guppy only looked dangerous from set pieces.
The game started at a furious pace and the tempo never relented. The 1,629 Wycombe fans behind the right-hand goal were soon chewing their nails. Tim Langford fouled Jason Lillis and Walsall threatened from Kyle Lightbourne’s free kick. Kerr, starting a match for the first time since against Lincoln in October, headed spectacularly out for a corner. Blues couldn’t clear from Chris Marsh’s corner, Dean Smith’s header hit the crossbar, and Rodney McDonald pounced to crack an eighth- minute opener. Langford tested keeper James Walker with a shot from inside the area after Jason Cousins’ throw from the right on 14 minutes. But Wanderers went 2-0 down on 18 minutes. A mistake by Kerr let in McDonald and his short cross found Marsh with room to fire home. Wycombe pulled back on 24 minutes through Hemmings dispatching his chance with aplomb.
Wanderers went close to equalising when Hemmings’ tenacity won a corner, taken by Carroll, which .found the head of Evans but his effort hit a post. Evans, picked out superbly by Titterton, again threatened with a firm shot which was blocked on 41 minutes. But Walsall went 3-1 up on 45 minutes. Lillis brilliantly found the head of the unmarked Lightbourne at the far post and he headed coolly home.
Blues should have scored five minutes into the second half. Hemmings fired past Walker but the ball went wide of a post, despite Carroll’s efforts to score. Wycombe’s defence then disintegrated on 56 minutes. They were caught napping as the ball moved sweetly between Lightbourne and McDonald with Lillis finishing the move with Walsall’s fourth. Wanderers crucially missed a sitter on 66 minutes when Hemmings, clean through, slipped the ball wide of the far post. Blues reverted to 3-5-2 to get a grip. But Walsall nearly had a fifth on 81 minutes when Lillis’ shot hit a post after a corner. Hemmings scored again 85 minutes after Guppy’s free kick was knocked back into the danger area by Hodges
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