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Wycombe Wanderers 1
Bournemouth 1
Saturday 31st December 1994
Football League Division Two

A last minute 35-yard wonder free-kick goal from Dave Carroll saw Wycombe earn a perhaps undeserved point against bottom of the table Bournemouth at Adams Park. The result saw Martin O’Neill’s side remain in the 3rd spot in the table but came as a disappointment following the 2-0 victory at Oxford United four days previous.

The draw came after O'Neill stuck with the same starting XI that beaten Oxford and took Wanderers points total to 45 from the their first 23 games in the third tier of English football. However,despite the draw, O’Neill was looking ahead with optimism. "We just go on. I wanted us to have two points per game. Now we are a point behind that target."

Reporting for the Bucks Free Press at Adams Park, Claire Nash wrote:

Dave Carroll’s last-gasp goal snatched a point which Wycombe Wanderers scarcely deserved from Saturday's lack lustre performance against basement club Bournemouth. The midfielder scored with nearly the last touch of the game when his 25-yard free kick was perfectly flighted over the visitors’ wall and beyond the despairing dive of goalkeeper Ian Andrew. It was a top drawer finish into the top corner. The preceding 89 minutes, however, saw Blues struggle to quell Bournemouth’s tigerish display at Adams Park.

Martin O'Neill’s men looked jaded after their triumphant but draining exertions at Oxford and a gruelling battle against Brighton the day before. Saturday's disappointing performance also cost them the immediate services of Keith Ryan, who left the ground on crutches after straining ankle ligaments, and Simon Garner, who pulled a hamstring.

Bournemouth’s battling attitude mirrored Wycombe’s intent at Oxford last week. Blues had a taste of the frustration they forced the former table toppers to suffer.

Wycombe’s coming down to earth with a bump was not surprising. They tend to struggle against sides fighting for their lives. Last season they came a cropper against Wigan, who were in almost as bleak a position as Bournemouth, and they also made heavy weather of accounting for Darlington who propped up Division Three for much of last term.

Bournemouth, managed by O’Neill’s former Norwich and Manchester City team-mate Mel Machin, made all the running in search of their first away win of the season. Carroll's late equaliser seemed an injustice. The visitors’ exciting winger Jason Brissett gave Jason Cousins a particularly torrid time on the left wing. Steve Brown’s urgency and enthusiasm on the left flank was a shining example to his Wycombe team-mates. But Wanderers struggled generally to break their opponents down. Blues had the best of the game’s opening exchanges when Brown drove narrowly wide from 25 yards after just 90 seconds and Terry Evans’ header from Cousins’ cross flashed past the near post four minutes later.

Bournemouth hit back on the break and scored. Blues' goal keeper Paul Hyde was always going to be stretched to reach Steve Robinson’s 15th minute header after Adrian Pennock’s knockdown from Brissett’s left wing cross had Wycombe’s defence in disarray. An argument between Machin and the referee on the touchline was an irritating disruption, the outcome being the Bournemouth manager’s banishment to the stands.

From whatever vantage point, however, Machin had reason to be pleased with how things were progressing for his side. They stood firm against Wycombe’s pressure. Pennock cleared off the line from Ryan who almost bundled the ball in after Evans had headed it down from another Cousins cross on 29 minutes. Ryan was injured amid the scramble and was substituted by Steve Thompson seven minutes later.

The match descended into a dour spectacle until Cyrille Regis, who is still nursing a thigh injury, started a move continued by Mickey Bell and Thompson which put Garner through. But goalkeeper Andrew snatched the ball off the striker’s toes. Blues ran out of ideas after the break although there was the odd flourish featuring Brown and Bell on the left wing.

Bournemouth created the better chances. Brissett’s thunderous 20-yarder left Hyde rooted to the spot when it cannoned off the crossbar on 73 minutes. And substitute Scott Mean almost converted a cross from Brissett at the near post after the latter left Cousins for dead at the touchline. An early exodus by some of Wycombe's fans indicated a lack of belief in a late revival. But they had reckoned without Carroll’s occasional majestic touch’ with a set-piece. He nailed his free kick after Regis was fouled by Robert Murray in stoppage time.

Wycombe: Hyde, Cousins, Brown, Crossley, Evans, Carroll, Ryan (sub 35 Thompson), Bell, Regis, Garner (sub 63 Patterson), Stapleton - sub not used: Moussaddik (GK)
Scorers: Carroll 90
Bournemouth: Andrew, Young, Vincent, Morris, Murray, Pennock, Beardsmore, Robinson (sub 79 Mean), Leadbitter, Fletcher, Brissett (sub 88 McElhatton) - sub not used: Wells (GK)
Scorers: Robinson 15
Referee: M Bailey (lmpington) Attendance: 5,990
Speaking after the game, Wycombe Manager Martin O'Neill said: “We looked very tired. Three games in five days for the likes of Garner and Regis is asking a lot. Tiredness showed in our play generally.” But the Wanderers boss refrained from using the workload as an excuse, adding:

Wycombe goalscorer Dave Carroll, who was almost signed by Bournemouth three seasons previous to the game, added: “If you look at our record, even when we were still in non-League, we struggled against bottom clubs. To be honest we didn’t really deserve anything today. We never played well, but it wasn’t through a lack of trying. I’m just relieved we got a point.”

Next game - Wycombe v West Ham - FA Cup - Saturday 7th January 1995
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