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Wycombe Wanderers 3
Bradford City 1
Tuesday 4th April 1995
Football League Division Two
Bradford City were blown away with three first half goals as Wanderers climbed to 6th place in Division Two following a 3-1 victory over Lennie Lawrence's side. The match, re-arranged from Tuesday 7th March due to a waterlogged pitch, saw Jason Soloman bag his first Wycombe goal as he netted within the opening couple of minutes. Tony Hemmings, back in the starting XI after impressing as a sub in the previous Saturday's game at Hull, fired the second, with Dave Carroll netting the third just before the break after Hemmings had misfired his original shot.
Wanderers prepared for the meeting with City with a behind closed doors friendly against Chelsea on the day before. Chelsea were also using the game as a warm up for their UEFA Cup Sem-Final 1st Leg meeting with Real Zaragoza. On loan Charlton midfielder Peter Garland, still short of fitness, scored the only goal of the game in a Wanderers victory.
Reporting for the Bucks Free Press from Adams Park, Clash Nash said: 'A resurgent Tony Hemmings helped Wycombe romp to a decisive first-half lead against Bradford on Tuesday night. He scored the second of Blues’ three goals, the first having come after just 90 seconds, to send the visitors reeling. It was a welcome chalk to the dour cheese of Wycombe’s goal- less draw against Hull on Saturday and moved them to within two points of the top five.
Martin O’Neill illustrated the strength of having more squad options. Hemmings earned his first start since last December after adding oomph to Blues’ demanding efforts at Hull. The pacy striker more than rewarded his manager’s faith against Bradford. Supporters also welcomed his return, giving him a warm ovation when substituted in the second half by Simon Garner, the latter having been given a well-earned breather on the bench. Central midfielder Jason Soloman and full back Jason Cousins were back in the fold after injury. And both made their own valuable contributions to a dynamic team performance.
Soloman got Wycombe’s rip-roaring first-half show on the road, perfectly capping their opening attack masterminded by Dave Carroll. The latter’s well-timed burst from midfield and resulting through-ball left Bradford’s defence standing and Soloman in prime position to fire past the visitors’ goalkeeper Paul Tomlinson.
Bradford endeavoured to settle but Wycombe stung them again on 27 minutes. Cousins’ long ball out of defence found Steve McGavin who went past Chris Stabb, the visitors’ nervous debutant in central defence, before unselfishly centring for Hemmings who put the ball away.
The influential McGavin, in his fifth game since being signed for a record-breaking £140,000 fee, deserved to open his goalscoring account after carving so many chances for others. It looked on the cards when he unleashed a tricky curling shot on the half-hour but Tomlinson was equal to it. Blues had the visitors on the ropes once more on 37 minutes to complete a half of unprecedented scoring for a season where goals have, at times, been painfully hard to come by. Carroll eventually got the ball in the back of the net after a scrambled preamble out of a Keystone Cops handbook for the not so finer points of finishing. Mickey Bell’s long ball from the left found Carroll, who knocked it square to Hemmings for what should have been a straight forward welly home. But the striker’s shot hit the bar, and McGavin’s follow-up was blocked. Carroll had another bite which Tomlinson got a hand to, but it fell to Carroll again. He made no mistake this time, hooking it beyond the frazzled goalkeeper.
Wycombe could have added a few more in the second half, despite Bradford reasserting themselves. City boss Lennie Lawrence moved Chris Kamara to the central defence, replacing the traumatised Stabb with Carl Shutt. But Bradford, however much they stuck to their footballing guns, could not wrest control from Wycombe’s midfield where Steve Brown was the main mover. Teenage striker Derick Hamilton caused some discomfort, but Terry Evans and Matt Crossley et al had matters well in hand until distracted by Blues’ double substitution.
The lack of concentration, in the throes of Garner and Steve Thompson replacing Hemmings and Terry Howard on 77 minutes, led to Hamilton heading in Gary Robson’s cross from Richard Huxford’s throw in. Hemmings’ tendency to lose his head spurned a further scoring opportunity. But once Paul Hyde made sure of saving former Altrincham and Barnet stalwart Paul Showler’s thunderous free kick after a fumble on 82 minutes, Blues were home and dry.'
Speaking after the game Martin O'Neill was complementary of Steve Brown who after switching from full-back had blossomed in midfield following the absence of Keith Ryan, injured in a Berks and Bucks tie with Chalfont St Peter back in January: “Brown had a great game tonight. He looks like the class player I knew he could be." Meanwhile, commenting on the exclusion of Cyrille Regis from the side, O'Neill added: "Cyrille needs a rest like anybody else. He knows he has not performed to the level that he reached at the beginning of the season. He’s still in my plans."
Returning the subject of promotion, O'Neill said: "We have given ourselves another chance. We have got to turn draws into wins. There is no alternative."
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