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|Retro - A look back on the 1993/94 season|
March 1994 - Revenge at last over Colchester
Wanderers made their first ever visit to The Vetch on Tuesday 1st March 1994 to play Swansea City in the First Leg of the Southern Area Final of the AutoGlass Trophy. The home side were aiming to reach Wembley for the first time in their history and were backed by a partisan crowd of 6,335 on a windswept evening in South Wales.
From the off The Swans laid siege on an under strength Wanderers side and took the lead in the 10th minute when Matthew Rush miss hit a shot to the right of goal only for Stephen Torpey to pick up possession and centre for Colin Pascoe to power the ball past Paul Hyde from close range. Then on 29 minutes a corner from the right saw Jason Bowen double their lead when he headed home at the far post as the ball squeezed through the Wanderers defence.
Wanderers fans could have been forgiven for fearing the worst at this point but within two minutes Simon Garner pulled Martin O'Neill's side back into the game with his first goal in a Wycombe shirt - the veteran striker firing home Tim Langford's lay off to left side of the penalty area. Keith Ryan then went close to levelling moments later to give the travelling fans some hope.
After the break both David Titterton and Glyn Creaser came on to make their first appearances for two months but it was the home side who scored a crucial third goal with 14 minutes remaining - Pascoe nicking his second of the night when he squeezed a header past Hyde following a Rush cross from the right to make the final score Swansea 3 Wycombe 1 with the second leg at Wycombe to come.
New signing Nicky Read made his Wycombe debut in the home game with Bury on Saturday 5th March 1994. The 33 year old full-back was a former team-mate of Martin O'Neill at Manchester City and arrived at Wycombe on a free transfer from West Brom after O'Neill had made a trip to the Midlands the previous day to secure his signature.
Reid slotted into a Wycombe side missing the suspended Steve Brown and Steve Blatherwick but who were ahead inside the first minute when Garner flicked home a header following a Steve Guppy cross from the left. However, the visitors were back on level terms two minutes later after Matt Crossley had wrestled Shakers leading scorer Mark Carter to the ground. The former Runcorn and Barnet striker and target of O'Neill a few years previous, converted the penalty himself.
The following hour was a tight affair and it took a 'route one' move for Wycombe to grab the winner in the 63rd minute. Hyde punted the ball down field where Dave Carroll watched the ball sail over the heads of the Bury defence before slotting the ball past Lee Bracey in the Shakers goal with a single touch from 15 yards.
Garner received a standing ovation when he was substituted later in the game and Wanderers could have increased their winning margin when Creaser went close with a header. However, it was the Wanderers Captain who made a vital contribution at the other end in the final minute when he hooked the ball off the line as Bury claimed he had fouled Ronnie Mauge. Then in the final minute Carroll attempted an audacious lob from more than 50 yards but the ball dropped the wrong side of the post. More importantly though, all three points belonged to Wycombe.
The visit to Layer Road on Saturday 12th March 1994 to take on Colchester United was a long awaited one for Wycombe followers. Martin O'Neill commented beforehand "There is a big deal of rivalry between us. Colchester would be easy to beat in normal circumstances. But there never seem to be normal circumstances when we play them."
Around 1,500 Wycombe supporters made the trip to Essex to witness a tense game played out in front of an ever increasing hostile atmosphere. United had beaten Wanderers 5-2 at Adams Park earlier in the season and although there had been a a minute amount of revenge with a victory in the AutoGlass Trophy in January, this was the important one against a side slumming it in the lower half of the table.
Once again Langford and Garner were the playmakers for Wycombe but with the game still goalless at the break it was two unlikely faces that would turn out to be the heroes and write themselves into Wanderers folklore. 58 minutes were on the clock when John Cheesewright in the home goal first blocked a shot from Guppy and then after Carroll had returned the ball from the right the U's keeper recovered to push away Langford's effort. However, when the ball broke loose again Simon Stapleton nipped in to steer the ball home before he celebrated in front of a manic travelling support.
While the fans exchanged taunts, Wanderers continued to dominate and could have gone further ahead with Langford firing over and Guppy squandering a couple of chances. Steve Thompson replaced an injured Garner around the 70 minute mark before United had their best chance to level on 78 minutes when the U's Steve Brown saw his header pushed wide by Hyde following a cross from Peter Cawley. David Titterton replaced Langford a couple of minutes later and was pushed forward into an unfamiliar centre-forward role. There was just a minute remaining when Read swept the ball over to the left side of goal where Guppy controlled and then made a trademark cross for Titterton to tuck the ball past Cheesewright and send the Wycombe fans into ecstacy. For the home support, they could only look on in anger. A minority tried to invade the pitch but were wrestled to the ground by stewards. The referee saw the potential problem and as soon as the game entered stoppage time he blew the full-time whistle. Job done.
The result at Layer Road had kept Wanderers in fourth place in the Division Two table with 56 points from 31 games. Leaders were Crewe on 58 points, followed by Chester City and Shrewsbury Town both on 57 points. A Wanderers party of players and officials, including Club Chairman Ivor Beeks and Director Alan Parry, jetted off to Portgual shortly after the game at Colchester for the previously earned four day bonus break in the sun. Meanwhile, Martin O'Neill stayed back in the UK on the look out for players that would potentially help earn Wycombe a place in Division Two the following season.
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