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Wycombe Wanderers 3
Saturday 22nd April 2006
Football League Division Two
Celebrations after Roger Johnson had put Wycombe into the leadWanderers put an end to the recent poor form and climbed back to fifth spot in the table following a 3-1 victory at relegation threatened Rushden & Diamonds. Steve Brown and Keith Ryan took on the joint caretaker Manager role with Terry Evans also in assistance following the departure of John Gorman but it looked to be same old story when Marcus Kelly gave the home side the lead in the 24th minute. However, Wanderers rallied after the break with Tommy Mooney forcing home an equaliser on 62 minutes and three minutes later Wycombe were ahead when Roger Johnson swept home a shot that found its way just inside the left hand upright. The victory was sealed in the 88th minute when Mooney converted from the spot after Rob Gier's foul on Ian Stonebridge earned the Rushden player a second yellow card and an early bath. Wanderers now need one more point to be absolutely sure of a play-off place with two games in the regular season remaining.
Keith Ryan, Steve Brown and Terry Evans at RushdenThe stand-in management team made five changes to the starting line-up that had lost 3-0 at home to Lincoln on Easter Monday. Will Antwi came into defence for Mike Williamson, Rob Lee and Matt Bloomfield returned in midfield in favour of Joe Burnell and Stefan Oakes, while Ian Stonebridge and Tommy Mooney were the preferred strikers instead of Charlie Griffin and Jermaine Easter.
The Wanderers made a positive start, forcing two early corners, but the defence still look vunerable against a Rushden side desperate for points to avoid the drop back into the Conference. Former Wanderers loanee Drewe Broughton hit an effort from 20 yards on 5 minutes that Frank Talia saved, while on 15 minutes a Darren Caskey free-kick from a central postion was grabbed on the line by Talis close to his right hand post. Wycombe responded on 21 minutes when Danny Senda's shot from the right was pushed away by Scott Tynan in the Rushden goal. However, there were danger signs again at the other end moments later when Wycombe were exposed down the Rushden right and John Turner's shot at the near post saw Talia block again before the loose ball was cleared. A minute later Tony Stokes' shot on the run from 25 yards was beaten down by Talia before the home side finally made the pressure tell in the 24th minute when Wycombe were outfought again down the Rushden right and Turner's cross to the far post was headed in by Kelly from just inside the six yard box.
Ian Stonebridge, who won Wanderers penalty, in action at RushdenIt was another blow to the Wycombe camp but there was still hope for the travelling fans as Russell Martin went close to equalising on 33 minutes when he latched onto Mooney's flick through but his lob was tipped over by Tynan. Matt Bloomfield shot wide on two occasions before the break and Stonebridge went close to converting from close range to give optimism for the second period.
Martin couldn't quite take advantage of an opening on the left of goal a few minutes after the restart but Wycombe's persistance in creating chances eventually paid off in the 62nd minute when Betsy's low cross from the right was turned in by Mooney. The goal gave Wycombe the confidence they may have been lacking in recent games and three minutes later they were ahead for the first time in seven games when Betsy clipped the ball back from the right to Stonebridge who then sensibly squared the ball to Johnson who saw his shot from 12 yards creep inside the left hand post and send the Wycombe fans behind the goal into hysterics. Martin picked up a booking for taking his celebrations too far into the crowd.
Wycombe then had the luxury of being able to make substitions while still leading the game and there was to be no nervous finish when, with two minutes remaining, Mooney headed through to Stonebridge down the left channel whose run into the penalty area prompted Gier to foul, concede a penalty and see red having been booked earlier in the game. Mooney tucked the spot-kick away to make it 3-1 and the final whistle a few minutes later brought relieved celebrations all around from Wycombe players and fans alike.
Final Score - Rushden & Diamonds 1 Wycombe 3
Tommy Mooney celebrates at RushdenRoger Johnson celebrates at Rushden

Steve Brown Speaking to BBC Three Counties Radio after the match Steve Brown said there was an air of relief following the end of the losing streak. He added "Once we got ourselves in front the shackles came off and the boys started to play. They worked so hard today and I'm so, so proud of them." Brown was also pleased to see the fighting spirit in the side having gone a goal behind, saying "It was nice to see that character reappear today at Rushden & Diamonds simply because we have lacked a lot of belief over the last six games when we've started losing games for whatever reason I don't know." The stand-in boss also admitted that he had told the players that there were to be no excuses having seen the excellent playing surface at Nene Park. He said "We've got some quality players at this football club and when you look at the surface there are no excuses. I said to the lads, there are no excuses today, you can't moan about the pitch, you can't moan about anything. It was perfect and they gave the perfect performance."
Wycombe: Talia, Senda, Easton (sub 71 Oakes), Johnson, Antwi, Betsy, Bloomfield, Lee (sub 79 Burnell), Martin (sub 89 Easter), Stonebridge, Mooney - subs not used Williams, Williamson
Bookings: Lee (39 foul), Martin (66 leaving pitch)
Scorers: Mooney (62, 88 pen), Johnson (65)
Rushden & Diamonds: Tynan, Nicholls, Gier, Hatswell, Bull (sub 78 Berry), Stokes, Caskey, Kelly, Broughton, Turner (sub 70 Pearson), Jackson (sub 78 Tomlin) - subs not used: Crane, Hunter
Bookings: Gier (foul 2), Hatswell (36 handball), Caskey (45 foul), Bull (64 foul), Stokes (90 foul) - Red Card: Gier (foul, second bookable offence 87)
Scorers: Kelly (24)
Referee: Mr C Boyeson Attendance: 3,396 (620 away section)
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