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Wycombe Wanderers 2
Saturday 12th February 2005
Football League Division Two
Nene Park A stoppage time strike from Nathan Tyson completed a smash and grab raid at Nene Park as Wanderers registered their seventh away victory of the season. The victims this time were Rushden & Diamonds who, after an uneventful first half, had taken the lead in the 50th minute when Graham Allen headed home a cross from David Bell. Moments earlier Frank Talia had been grateful to stay on the pitch after handling the ball outside his area but only receiving a yellow card. With Steve Guppy substituted with an achilles injury there seemed no way back for Wycombe until John Gorman took a gamble and went three at the back, replacing debutant David Perpetuini with Ian Stonebridge and switching Gus Uhlenbeek for Matt Bloomfield. It was Bloomfield, returning from injury, who got Wycombe back into the game with the goal of the season to date when he fired home from 25 yards from Steve Claridge's lay off on 74 minutes. Both sides had chances to steal the game towards the end but it was Wycombe who claimed all three points when Senda sent in a free-kick that Johnson, Stonebridge and then Claridge flicked on for Tyson to convert from close range and put Wycombe back within striking distance of the play-off zone.
John Gorman made three changes to the side that had lost at home to Boston United the previous Saturday. New signing Perpetuini came in to make his debut at left-back while Stuart Nethercott was recalled in favour of Mike Williamson. Danny Senda returned to the midfield with Jonny Dixon dropping to the bench. Wycombe risked having no 'keeper amongst the substitutes as Steve Williams had not recovered from a shoulder injury but he's expected to be available for the home meeting with Darlington on Saturday 19th February. The visitors included former Wycombe loanee Drewe Broughton in the starting line-up after the striker had moved on a free from Southend United the previous day.
In blustery conditions at Nene Park the first half proved fairly uneventful. Kicking into the wind, Wycombe never really made an impressive on the Rushden goal during the opening 45 minutes. At the other end Broughton headed over in the early stages while Nethercott had to be alert to cut out a Neil McCaferty effort on 25 minutes after the home side had taken a quick throw-in. Wanderers had to rely on a long range effort from Roger Johnson, made captain for the day, to give the 500 plus travelling support from Wycombe something to cheer about.
As the half progressed Talia pushed away a left footed shot from Billy Sharp on 33 minutes with Rushden beging to expose the Wanderers defence. However, it proved to be their finishing let would let home side down and they were nearly made to pay for their missed chances when former Wycombe loanee 'keeper Lee Worgan mis-kicked to Steve Claridge a couple of minutes before the break but Allen reacted fastest to clear the danger.
Half-time 0-0
Having been sent off in the previous meeting between the two sides in September 2003, Frank Talia must have been thinking he was in for another early bath when he handled outside the area. This time the referee took pity but it was Wanderers who conceded within a minute. The resulting free-kick was well saved by Talia for a corner but Wanderers failed to clear and after Bell had crossed from the left it was Allen who was allowed to head the ball back past Talia from the far post.
Claridge could have equalised for Wycombe on 56 minutes when he headed over from close range after Tyson had crossed from the left. Tyson too had a good opportunity before Rushden squandered two further chances to wrap the game up. First 0n 69 minutes Andy Burgess flashed a shot wide of Talia's post and then two minutes the same player missed a virtually open goal after Broughton had sent in a low cross from the right.
Wanderers' equaliser came out of the blue. Senda's throw from the right was laid back to Bloomfield by Claridge from the near side of the penalty area and the former Ipswich trainee smashed the ball home from around 25 yards with a little assistance from the wind to curl the ball inside the left hand upright.
Wycombe would have been happy with a point after a disappointing display earlier in the game but it was their determination until the end that eventually won the points. Johnson had just cleared some danger in the 89th minute to shut out Alex Hay in his own box before he ventured up field for Wycombe' final attack. Senda sent in the free-kick from inside the Wycombe half that Johnson nodded on from the left of midfield and then via touches from Stonebridge and Claridge it was Tyson who knocked in his 12th goal of the season to inflict a cruel defeat on Rushden but one that will not see any loss of sleep about from Wycombe followers.
Final Score - Rushden 1 Wycombe 2
Speaking after the game to BBC Three Counties Radio, Wycombe Manager John Gorman said he was obviously happy with the result before adding "We got a wee bit out of jail but we kept going and we did what teams have done to us sometimes. Like last week when we lost with five minutes to go at home. I know how Barry (Hunter) feels and how the team feels at Rushden & Diamonds, especially when they are down where they are in the League, obviously every point for them is vital." He was also pleased with the way Wycombe had kept attacking until the final whistle, saying "We could have easily settled for one each. We had Roger right upfield, we had everybody in the box. I shouted to Danny to play it as long as he could and Roger did magnificent and Ian Stonebridge did really well when he came on he gave us something different on the left side and helped us. He was involved heavily and Steve Claridge and Nathan finished it all off."
Rushden boss Barry Hunter thought his side should have taken the three points, saying to the Diamonds official website "I thought we deserved to win and John Gorman will agree but I am sure they have had it go against them many times late on in games, it's just the way things are at the minute." Hunter's side are just one place off the relegation zone but he added "We looked positive. They went for it as well and we hit them on the break a few times and if we had been more clinical we could have punished them. Their first goal could have been closed down a little bit better but I was right behind it, it was a cracking strike and the wind brought it back in - you're never going to catch it. The second goal was just a big lump and we couldn't defend it."
John Gorman concluded he had taken a gamble on going all out for victory, saying "Last week it backfired on me when I did the same type of thing. I put young Ikechi Anya on the pitch at 17 years old with three centre forwards and we lost a goal but today we got the joy of scoring a goal."
Wycombe: Talia, Senda, Perpetuini (sub 65 Stonebridge), Nethercott, Johnson, Uhlenbeek (sub 58 Bloomfield), Easton, Ryan, Guppy (sub HT Dixon), Claridge, Tyson - subs not used: Williamson, Silk
Bookings: Talia (handball 49)
Scorers: Bloomfield (74), Tyson (90)
Rushden & Diamonds: Worgan, Connelly, Allen, Gulliver (sub 37 Dempster), Hawkins, Bell, McCafferty (sub 83 Hay), Gray, Burgess, Broughton, Sharp - subs: Chalmer-Stevens, Taylor, Kelly
Bookings: -
Scorers: Allen (50)
Referee: G Hegley Attendance: 3,490 (510 away end)
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