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|Retro - A look back on the 1993/94 season|
April 1994 - Nervous Wanderers remain in third place
After consecutive draws over Easter against Torquay and Rochdale, Wanderers took on 7th placed Walsall at Adams Park on Saturday 9th April 1994. Few would have predicted the final score when, with less than 20 minutes of the game remaining the score was still 0-0. A dire opening hour was suddenly transformed when Martin O'Neill replaced Tony Cunningham and Steve Brown with Tony Hemmings and Steve Thompson. The breakthrough came on 73 minutes when Dave Carroll's corner from the left found its way through to Simon Garner, who nodded home. With Walsall pushing for an equaliser, Thompson broke down the left and found Hemmings who squared to Carroll who cooly slotted past James Walker in The Saddlers goal. To add icing on the cake, a poor clearance by Walker in the final minute went straight to Hemmings who ran on before driving home a low shot into the far corner of the net to make the full-time score 3-0.
O'Neill admitted after the game that his team had been "played off the field" before commenting on the run-in ahead of his team. "Automatic promotion is all we want. We have got five games left. If we win four of those we will win promotion." After the season had ended, O'Neill reflected again on this moment in time, saying "If you had told me then, with five games left, that we wouldn't win another league game, I would have definetly cut the old throat."
Before the trip to Scarborough on Saturday 16th April 1994, Wanderers learnt that three of the squad had been called up into the PFA's Division Three team of the season. Jason Cousins, Terry Evans and Steve Guppy were the players to grab the honours and Wycombe were the only side to be represented three times. Cousins commented "It was a shock. I just went there to rub shoulders with the stars. To see my name in the list was a big surprise. The other lads deserved it. It speaks volumes for how well we have done this season." Meanwhile, Evans, who was honoured despite being injured since February, added "It just helps make it worthwhile." Martin O'Neill was also "absolutely delighted" that three of his squad had earned this honours, commenting in The Blues News that it was "A fitting tribute to their eforts in making this football club successful. Perhaps all those people who wrote to me demanding the sacking of Jason after his challenge on the Doncaster left-winger, may be quietly pleased that I didn't take their advice (Actually there were only seven letters and all of them came from Jason's mother anyway"). Steve Guppy was just pleased that the voting had been cast before we played Rochdale at Spotland on Easter Monday. My daughter played better than him and she wasn't there!"
O'Neill had also recently been to see the Mancheter United v Oldham Athletic FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. O'Neill bemoaned to use of Wembley for such a tie before commenting on the match referee. "I was equally interested in the performance of the referee, Mr Don, who gave a less then impressive display at Adams Park when we played Torquay United recently. That day he managed to book nine players during the course of the game which incidentally, contained 17 less free-kicks then the foul ridden semi-final at Wembley where Mr Don proceeded to book...well no-one at in the normal 90 minutes. Extra-time saw a few yellow cards banished aloft but certainly not the nine cards he semaphorically waved to us that day. Perhaps Premier League players don't commit the same type of fouls that Third Division players do."
Back in the Third Division at Scarborough, the day proved a bit of a disaster for Wycombe. A nervous looking Wanderers, without a suspended Jason Cousins, conceeded twice just before the interval to leave Martin O'Neill fuming. First on 38 minutes a 20 yard effort from Steve Charles crept in off Paul Hyde's right hand post. A minute later a shot from the edge of the box was deflected by Matt Crossley into the path of Craig Whitlington who finished with ease from close range.
Wanderers did get back into the game with eight minutes remaining when a Steve Guppy shot hit the crossbar and Nick Cusack managed to shape himself to put in the rebound. However, any thoughts of a late equaliser were banished when another 20 yard plus effort, this time from Shaun Murray, looped over Hyde to complete a bad day at the seaside.
There was a chance to get the defeat out of the system the following Tuesday (19th April), when Rochdale were the visitors to Adams Park. Rochdale had two previous visits to High Wycombe aborted due to the weather but when this encounter got underway it proved to be a close affair. Wanderers took the lead on 16 minutes when Guppy's corner from the right saw Garner recover from a failed header to turn and shoot home from inside the six yard box. Wanderers couldn't add to the goal and were pegged back in the 72nd minute when a cross from the left saw Mark Stuart's header slip through the hands of Hyde. Then in a frantic closing, Garner and Ryan both went close before Simon Stapleton contrived to conjure up what is regularly described "as the worst miss ever at Adams Park", when he somehow cleared the ball from his own goalline with just two minutes left on the clock.
Speaking after the game Martin O'Neill said "It was easier to score than to miss", while Matt Crossley confirmed the team would not let the chance of promotion slip, "We won't bottle it because Martin won't let us." The result left Wycombe in 3rd place on 68 points. Crewe were now just a point behind with three games remaining and Wanderers would travel to Gresty Road for the penultimate game of the season.
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