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|1994-1995-RESULTS, SCORERS, ATTENDANCES||1994-1995 RETRO INDEX|
Birmingham City 0
Wycombe Wanderers 1
Tuesday 30th August 1994
Football League Division Two
Wanderers recorded another remarkable result in their rise from non-League football and towards the top of the third tier of English football with a 1-0 ‘smash and grab’ at title favourites Birmingham City . Cyrille Regis bagged the only goal of the game on 67 minutes when he headed home substitute Simon Hutchison’s cross.
This latest eye-opener came after Martin O’Neill stuck with the same starting XI that had drawn with Bristol Rovers three days previous at Adams Park. His opposite number in the Birmingham camp was Manager Barry Fry. The former Barnet and Southend boss had moved to St.Andrews in December 1993 but couldn't prevent their drop into the third tier at the end of the 1993/94 season and thus setting up a rematch between himself and O'Neill - the two last in opposite sides when Barnet were on their way to winning the Conference at the end of the 1990/91 season. Fry's respect for O'Neill was confirmed when he predicted, via his programme notes, that the Wycombe boss would some day manage at the top level.
For Fry, a spending spree in the summer of 1994, under the Chairmanship of David Sullivan and Managing Director Karren Brady, had meant that he could afford to leave out January 1994, £150,000, signing from Colchester United, Steve McGavin. The striker watched the game from an executive box just behind the several hundred Wycombe fans housed along the touchline stand in an under development stadium and took the good natured chants directed at him in the right spirit.
The attendance at St. Andrews of 14,305 was the highest League gate that Wanderers had played in front of to date in their history – the previous best (13,334) coming just 10 days previous in the 1-0 victory at Huddersfield.
The victory over City left Wanderers unbeaten in the opening four League games of the 1994/95 campaign and sitting in third spot in the table with 10 points – behind leaders Crewe Alexandra and 2nd placed Oxford United.
Reporting for the Bucks Free Press at St. Andrews, Claire Nash wrote:
'Wycombe Wanderers' win at Birmingham City on Tuesday proves the club is capable of answering the demands of a Division Two promotion challenge, manager Martin O'Neill believes. His team continues to disprove reality the Blues boss said yesterday, as he reflected on the achievement of his small-town club defeating the mighty midlanders - favourite~ for the Division Two title - on their home patch.
Wanderers' sweetly-satisfying victory was a dusk raid executed with steely precision in the bull ring-like atmosphere of St Andrews. Their unbeaten run thus far, although a minor fraction of the season, illustrates that they can more than live with the company they now keep.
Wycombe spent a lot of time chasing the action at Birmingham. But they played with assurance and ultimately reduced Barry Fry's men to almost Keystone Cop-like antics in the six-yard box late on. The hosts' battle became a desperate one to glean a point from a match they dominated.
Veteran Wycombe striker Cyrille Regis earlier showed younger brother Dave, playing up front for Birmingham, how to find the target with a 67th-minute precision-header which converted Simon Hutchinson's cross.
The portents had looked good for Wycombe on nine minutes when their Regis went by two defenders before his searching shot almost got past Ian Bennett. Birmingham's midfielder Mark Ward, a six-figure close-season signing from Everton, was the classiest player on the pitch, and the amount of Birmingham possession was underlined by a succession of corners and free kicks.
Wanderers had their chances, though, with Steve Thompson often bolting out of defence. One good run was continued by Dave Carroll whose lay-off was fired firmly by Turner, but into Bennett's hands.
The turning point may well have been Hyde's magnificent save from Paul Tait before the break. Tait's shot, after good work by the much-hyped Steve Claridge and Regis, was heading for the top left hand corner, but Hyde plucked it out of the air.
Hutchinson, returning to action after almost a year out injured, helped put paid to Birmingham in the second half. He replaced Turner after 62 minutes. Within five more, his zip down the wing and cross to the far post found Regis with space to head home.
Hutchinson's pace embarrassed the chasing Saville moments later. Saville embarrassed himself on 76 minutes by missing a close-range shot with Wycombe's defence in disarray. Dave Regis dashed in with an air shot on the loose ball, before Saville had another go, this time pushing the ball wide. Wycombe, although busy, took it in their ice-cool stride.'
Speaking to the press after the game Martin O'Neill was adamant Wanderers should focus on the distant possibility of reaching a play-off or even automatic promotion spot by the end of the 1994/95 season, but he also warned his squad will need to be strengthened for a sustained Division Two campaign, saying: "Psychologically, winning at Birmingham was very important for us. A couple of years ago, it would have been unheard of for us to play them in a league game. But, to go up there to St Andrews and win, is an even greater morale booster."
However, the Wycombe boss added it was still too early to tell just how well Wycombe can do this season, but pointed out there is no harm in aiming high. "I have been accused here of never looking at things realistically. If I did, we would still be in the Vauxhall Conference," he said.
O'Neill was also anxious to stress that Wanderers' next game (at Bradford City) would be another big test for his side, despite Wycombe going into the game unbeaten in the League and just one of just two in the entire Football League not to have conceded a goal in the season to date. The task would be made harder particularly because Andy Turner, Wycombe's on-loan winger, who impressed at Birmingham, would be ruled out with a hamstring injury.
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