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Wycombe Wanderers 2
Saturday 2nd November 1974
FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
After defeating Chesham United away from home in the previous round, Wanderers took on Southern League Premier side Margate in the 4th and final Qualifying Round. The Kent side came to Loakes Park placed 4th place in the Southern League, one place above Wimbledon and trailing Kettering Town, Nuneaton Borough and Yeovil Town. The also boasted recent FA Cup pedigree, beating Swansea City at The First Round stage during the 1972/73 season, before eventually bowing out 6-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur. A year previous they had also hit the headlines when they were trounced 11-0 at Bournemouth, Ted McDougall scoring nine of the goals. They also came with a slight physcological advantage having beaten Wanderers 4-2 at Loakes Park at the same stage of the competition during the 1956/57 season. Meanwhile, Wanderers were aiming to reach the First Round Proper for the second consecutive season and perhaps emulate their defeat of Newport County.
Bucks Free Press reporter Stuart Earp described the game in details as follows, "The width of a goalpost saved Wycombe Wanderers from a trip down to Margate in Saturday’s pulsating F.A. Cup Fourth Qualifying Round encounter at Loakes Park. And had Norman Fusco’s 30 yard effort gone an. inch to the right instead of thumping the upright, I wouldn’t have fancied Wycombe Wanderers’ chances in the replay at Hartsdown. Margate, by far the most physical side the Blues have met this season, would have been a stiff proposition on their own ground.
But the question of a replay should never have entered the minds of the 3,000 strong crowd, for the match ought to have been decided after 45 minutes. Only once this season (against Hendon), have we seen Wanderers so dominant in the first half of a game. They out played their Southern League opponents to such an extent that Margate were distinctly rattled every time Wycombe were in possession. Chance after chance was created as the visitors struggled to get into the game.
Their only answer to the pressure was to foul. Time after time referee D. Smith blew for free kicks which must have numbered about 20-30 in the first half. Offender in chief was centre half Steve Breach. From the first aerial duel with Keith Searle, Breach was up against it and after a series of warnings he was eventually booked. Still Breach fouled upsetting and pressurising his own teammates, until eventually he had to be replaced by substitute Ray Summers in the 3rd minute. Had Breach not been substituted, there was no doubt in my mind that he would have been sent off for continual fouling.
It must be a long time since a player has been taken off to pre vent his own dismissal and it demonstrated just how severe the pressure was on Margate. Not that Breach was the only culprit. Full backs Dennis Butler and Alan Butterfield also dished out some stick to the Wycombe front runners, Butler eventually joining Breach in the book. If this was an example of Southern League soccer, Wanderers are far better off in the Rothmans Isthmian League.
Breach’s amazing behaviour could not overshadow a superb first half display by Wanderers, however. They tore their opponents to pieces and their performance was reminiscent of their 5-0 victory over Kettering a few years back. The only reason Margate were allowed to get back into the game was due to a goal gifted to them by the home defence in the last few minutes of the first half. A series of errors inside the box saw them pull back to 1-2 and after the interval they looked a different outfit. That goal meant that Wanderers had to endure a hectic second half in which there were a number of scares, purely because they did not ram home their clear superiority in the early stages.
At first though, it seemed Wycombe would have this game sewn up by break. Wearing a new light blue strip, they piled into Margate with Searle twicebringing ‘keeper Steve Bowtell into action. After eight minutes Bowtell plucked a fierce cross- shot from Perrin out of the air and as Breach and Co. began to lose their heads, Wanderers took the lead with an all- important early goal.
The move that brought the breakthrough was one of the best this season. -Tony Horseman, Perrin, Searle and Howard Kennedy all exchanged passes before Searle finally slipped the ball inside to Wycombe’s top goalscorer, who coolly beat Bowtell from eight yards. Kennedy’s placing the shot was precise and with this goal bringing his tally to 12 this season, he is fast becoming one of the most effective goalscoring midfield men around.
Two minutes later Mick Holifield hit the side netting after a Terry Reardon drive had been blocked. So concerned with resisting this Wycombe barrage, Margate could do little right. The ball was thumped anywhere and their front runners were seldom given a chance to shine. One man, however, managed to look dangerous amongst the Margate gloom—winger Bruce Walker. Given too much time and space by full back Paul Birdseye, Walker was to play an important role -in the visitors’ second half revival.
A couple of long range efforts from Reardon, who managed to overcome his mid-week bout of ‘flu, kept the Margate defence on the rack and only Bowtell’s firm catching of the ball kept the coastal club from going further behind. After Breach was booked in the 29th minute, Perrin forced another diving save from the ‘keeper and then Margate’s defence cracked again four minutes later.
Perrin, despite a bad foul by Breach, managed to slip the ball to Holifield on the left. Mick ran on and thrashed in another shot which Bowtell could only parry across the face of the goal. The oncoming Tony Horseman wasted no time in slotting home the loose ball. A word of praise should be given to the referee for he allowed advantage when Perrin was fouled and this decision brought its full reward for Wycombe. Still Wanderers stormed forward and two minutes after that second goal came the game’s major turning point. Once again Holifield’s pace took him clear of two defenders and having drawn out Bowtell, he crossed into the middle. Kennedy met the ball first time and clipped a shot straight towards the net. Colin Clewlow, however, just happened to be there at the right time to get his head to the ball and deflect away a certain goal. A third score then would have ended the match as a contest, I am sure. Margate, whose heads were already going down at the time, scarcely looked good enough to cut back a three goal deficit.
Just after Kennedy’s 30 yard free kick had been tipped away for the urnpteenth corner, the Margate management took the sensible decision to replace Breach. Clewlow switched to centre back, making way for Summers in midfield. The move worked better than Margate could ever have imagined. With Breach gone, the visitors’ defence found themselves more time and in the 41st minute, they snapped up free gift to put - themselves back in with a chance. Until this incident, home ‘keeper John Maskell had been virtually redundant and it was probably his inactivity that brought the Margate goal. John should not shoulder all the blame, however, for the defence had two or three opportunities to clear from their penalty area before Maskell dived to collect the ball, failed to hold onto it and gave Carl Gilbert the chance to slot home.
The effect of the score was obvious. Wycombe sagged significantly and, were glad to hold out for the remaining four minutes of the half. Margate now had fresh hope. - The change in the pattern of the second half was predictable. Margate came out with a new cause. Gone was the first half bickering and swearing. Now the players were urging each other on, praising each other’s efforts and looking much more like a side near the top of the Southern League. Wycombe, with the wind taken right out of their sails, suddenly became shaky at the back, exposed in midfield and disorganised upfront. It was obviously going to be Margate’s half. The question was, could Wanderers hold out?
Forty-seven minutes later we had the answer but during those minutes there were many anxious moments for both sides. At first Margate threw all they had at the home side and held their grip for almost half an hour. Then Wycombe started to believe in themselves again, came streaming back and finished the match in the driving seat.
Margate, sensing they had a match-saver in winger Walker, played to their number 11 from the second half whistle. Hugging the touchline, Walker was again given’ all the time in the world to bang over left foot crosses which had the home defence in a good deal of trouble. It was fortunate the rest of the Margate strikers had off days. Gilbert, who once cost Rotherham £18,000, proved an awkward customer for Keith Mead but lacked penetration near goal while the bearded Barry Brown seldom threatened and wasted his one and only chance in the game.
As Margate came forward they began to discover massive gaps in midfield. With Holifield marking Eddie Clayton the ex Spurs first teamer, Kennedy and Reardon could not cope with the extra enthusiasm Margate generated and Wycombe themselves began to commit fouls. From one free kick Maskell saved well from Fusco and then Sawyer’s curling drive from a corner forced the ‘keeper to gather at the second attempt.
Amongst this Margate dominance there were a few Wycombe raids which almost brought goals, like in the 60th minute when Bowtell held onto a rising drive from Kennedy. Four minutes later Alan Phillips broke through from midfield and laid a superb through ball to Horseman’s feet but after drawing a defender and slipping the ball to Perrin, the latter miscued his shot hopelessly wide.
As Margate began to tire, however, Wanderers at last hauled themselves- back into the game again, forcing four corners inside two minutes. From one of those flag kicks, Horseman wasted the best chance of the half. Searle, receiving the ball at the near post, flicked the ball over the goalkeeper to Horseman, 10 yards out. Although two defenders were on the line, “Bodger” would normally have put this chance away with ease. This time he sliced the ball nearer the corner flag than the goal.
Kennedy blasted Perrin’s pass over the top after 74 minutes, two minutes later Bowtell saved a full blooded Horseman effort and then Kennedy teased two de before shooting just past the post. In between those Wycombe’s efforts, Brown drove wide at the other end when Wycombe’s back four were caught too square. Amidst all this excitement Butler was booked for scything down Horseman in, the 77th minute. Then Perrin latched on Butler’s weak back-pass and hit the side netting but the closest effort of the half came from Margate. Breaking out of defence, Fusco was allowed to run straight at the defence for 20 yards or more. He even had time to look up and place his shot which flew over Maskell’s despairing dive but thumped against the upright and was hastily cleared. That was with five minutes left and there were some mightily relieved faces in the Wycombe crowd when Mr. Smith finally brought this excellent Cup tie to its close.
Wanderers opponents in the First Round Proper would be Cheltenham Town of the Southern League Division One (North) - the tie would take place at Loakes Park on Saturday 23rd November 1974.
What else was happening in the UK in early November 1974
2 November 1974 - No.1 UK Album Charts - Smiler by Rod Stewart
7 November 1974 - Lord Lucan disappeared after the murder of his children's nanny.
9 November 1974 - Manchester City take over at the top of the First Division as Liverpool lose 3–1 at home to Arsenal.
9 November 1974 - No.1 UK Album Charts - Rollin' by Bay City Rollers
16 November 1974 - No.1 UK singles chart - "Gonna Make You a Star by David Essex
20 November 1974 - England are held to a goalless draw by Portugal in their second 1976 European Championship qualifier.
21 November 1974 – In Birmingham, two pubs were bombed, killing 21 people and injuring many others.
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