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Crewe Alexandra 1
Wycombe Wanderers 2
Saturday 17th September 1995
Football League Division Two

Wanderers continued their impressive away record at the start of the 1994/95 campaign, with a 2-1 victory at Crewe Alexandra. The result brought to an end 3rd placed Crewe's unbeaten home start to the season. The three points for Martin O'Neill's side pushed Wanderers up to 4th spot in the table after eight games played. Oxford United were top, with Huddersfield and Bradford in the next two places.

Reporting for the Bucks Free Press from Gresty Road, Claire Nash wrote: 'It was a well-exacted tale of the unexpected at Gresty Road on Saturday as Wycombe continued their Jekyll and Hyde form to secure a superlative victory. Blues dominated proceedings against Crewe, one of Division Two’s early birds, without extending the genorosity which has blighted their topsy-turvy campaign. It got a bit hairy during the last five minutes when Crewe pulled a goal back, but Blues defended stoutly to preserve a two-goal lead already secured by Cyrille Regis and Dave Carroll.

Every Wanderer motored at full capacity to reward supporters’ wishful thinking esque hope, rather than expectation, that they could upset Dario Gradi’s stylish men. Encouragingly, individuals who have come under fire for shaky form came out with guns blazing to silence their critics.

Man of the match Simon Stapleton and Keith Ryan returned to the fray, after being dropped and substituted respectively against Hull last week, with commanding midfield performances. They complemented Wanderers’ sound defence, marshalled by Terry Evans, and the dynamic duo of Regis and Simon Garner up front.

An assumption by Crewe’s press, and even corresponding statements by Gradi, that Wycombe presented them with an ideal opportunity for a return to winning ways, after defeats inflicted by Wrexham and Oxford United, further fuelled Blues’ determination.

A new pre-kick-off warm up designed to keep Wanderers’ players on their toes, and not concede early goals, appeared to pay immediate dividends. Wycombe hit the mark first after the match opened with end-to-end forays. The goal arrived on 12 minutes after Ryan kept possession under pressure before feeding Jason Cousins wide on the right. The full back’s first-time cross was fumbled by Crewe’s goalkeeper Mark Gayle. Garner got a touch, but it wasn’t enough until Regis flung himself into the melee to head home.

Four minutes later, Garner’s flicked header from Justin Skinner’s cross was cleared off the line by Martyn Booty. Crewe were dangerous on the break and almost equalised a minute later when former Manchester United trainee Rob Savage lobbed Paul Hyde. The ball looked goalbound until it hit the upright at the last moment.

Blues’ determined defending, very much in the same vein as their 1-0 win at Birmingham, kept them in the driving seat. They increased their lead as the half entered stoppage time. Garner was brought down by Macauley 20 yards out. Carroll kept the resulting free kick simple, a nonchalant chip over the wall having the desired deadly effect.

Ryan and Stapleton continued their perpetual motion after the break. Crewe’s playmaker Garvey remained a threat. His 68th-minute pass put Booty through, but Matt Crossley got an important last-ditch boot in. Gradi changed his sweeper system to a flat back four to quell Wycombe’s domination. Wanderers faced their sternest test after Crewe pulled a goal back, Steve Walters thumping home a rebound from an 86th-minute free kick. But they held on during a nail-biting finale. Snakes and ladders progress so far, however, indicates that what happens against Stockport tomorrow is anyone’s guess.'

Wycombe: Hyde, Cousins, Skinner, Crossley, Evans, Ryan, Carroll, Thompson, Regis, Garner, Stapleton - subs not used: Langford, Turner, Moussaddik (GK)
Scorers: Regis 12, Carroll 45
Bookings: Skinner 35 (foul)
Crewe: Gayle, Booty, Smith, Walters, Macauley, Barr (sub 54 Collier), Garvey, Murphy, Ward, Whalley, Savage (sub 76 Edwards) - sub not used: Smith (GK)
Scorers: Walters 86
Bookings: Walters 63 (foul)
Referee: E Parker (Preston) Attendance: 4,466

Speaking after the game, Wycombe Manager Martin O'Neill said: "It was fantastic. For 85 minutes we were in total command. Crewe are a lovely foot-balling side. With our wins against Huddersfield and Birmingham as well, you have to say our away record is sensational." He added: "I thought we were breathtaking. Our veterans Simon Garner and Cyrille Regis were magnificent." Meanwhile, Crewe boss Dario Gradi said: "We didn’t play much differently to the way we won our opening five games but Wycombe’s power was too much for us to handle."

The victory at Crewe came just 24 hours after a £75,000 deal to buy midfielder Louie Donowa from Birmingham City fell through. Wanderers’ inconsistent form before the game had heightened O’Neill’s quest to bring in new players. O'Neill had agreed a fee for Donowa with Birmingham boss Barry Fry on Friday, but O’Neill pulled out of the transfer before Wycombe travelled up to Crewe because he couldn’t agree personal terms with the winger. O'Neill explained: "I had made a bid for Louie which was accepted by Birmingham. I spoke to him, but we could not agree personal terms. He came back to me to say he wanted a little bit more money. I do not want people to play for the club for nothing. But playing football has to be reasonably high on a player’s priorities." The £75,000 deal would have broken Wycombe’s transfer record which stood at the time as the £40,000 paid for Steve Brown the previous season.
Next game - Stockport County v Wycombe - Saturday 24th September 1994
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