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Wycombe v Oxford programme cover - showing Simon Garner Wycombe Wanderers 1
Oxford United 0
Saturday 15th April 1995
Football League Division Two

An all-ticket attendance of 7,683 gathered at Adams Park to see the showdown with near near neighbours Oxford United. The U's had started the season well but fallen away in the new year in addition to being knocked out of the FA Cup at Marlow. For Wanderers, they had found their winning touch again, their most recent game being a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Wrexham the previous Tuesday. And it was Wanderers who claimed the local bragging rights with a 1-0 in the first ever Football League meeting between the two sides on Buckinghamshire soil. Dave Carroll's 41st minute header settled the contest, while earlier in the game United skipper Matt Elliott had been shown a straight red card in the 8th minute for a 'rugby' style tackle on Steve McGavin.

Reporting for the Bucks Free Press from Adams Park, Claire Nash said: “That was the one we wanted very badly,” was Terry Evans’ basic, but effective, summation of Wycombe Wanderers’ sentiments about Saturday’s stupendous win over Oxford United. It was secured at some cost to the team captain when he hobbled away from the ground after damaging ankle ligaments. But his heroic performance was typical of Blues’ blood and guts attitude. They clung to a narrow 1-0 lead despite a commendable fightback by a determined ten-man Oxford.

As well as giving Wycombe’s play-off aspirations a crucial boost, the victory secured their third double of the sea son. And it was an immensely satisfying one at that, being achieved over their near neighbours in front of a 7,683 crowd — the biggest League gate of the season at Adams Park.

Wycombe didn’t mess about at the start, flying at their opponents in a relentless opening spell which forced five corners in the first ten minutes. Oxford, and specifically team captain Matt Elliott, cracked. The central defender was dismissed for grounding Steve McGavin when the Blues striker tried to go through on goal after latching onto Paul Hyde’s long clearance on eight minutes. Referee Keith Cooper had no hesitation in sending Elliott off for the professional foul. There was no argument from Oxford boss Denis Smith either, who said afterwards that he would rather have been a goal down with 11 men, rather than ten who would soon have a 1-0 deficit to make up. But Oxford, suitably kicked up the backside, more than made up for their being a man down. “We played well after going down to ten men,” Smith commented. “We kept the ball and made it difficult for them. But that’s no good if you don’t get a. goal. At this time of year you need results and Wycombe got the result.”

Hyde came out decisively to thwart Paul Moody’s zip through Blues’ defence on 25 minutes. Oxford’s leading scorer was given a clear run after Evans slipped. Wycombe were coolly wise to most things Oxford chucked at them on the counter attack. The visitors were rocked again when Alex Dyer went off injured after 37 minutes.

Dave Carroll celebrates the winner against Oxford United - as published on the front cover of The Blues NewsWanderers then hit them with what proved to be the knockout punch moments later. Dave Carroll did the honours, the midfielder’s header scram bling home a rebound from Peter Garland’s fierce shot after McGavin’s cross from the by-line. Although Oxford had now been given more food for thought at the break, Moody gave Wycombe something to chew on when he fired narrowly over on the turn during first-half stoppage time.

Oxford put Blues under the cosh in search of an equaliser in the second half. But Wycombe steadfastly hung onto their narrow lead. The atmosphere on and off the pitch became more charged up as the match progressed and became a pulsating battle just after the hour. Bobby Ford let rip with a 66th minute shot which singed Hyde’s hands. But the goalkeeper snatched it up after letting it bounce. McGavin forced a corner a minute later at the other end after a one-two with Tony Hemmings in the 18-yard box. Steve Brown shot wide of the far post from the resulting set-piece after Bell’s cross was flicked on by Evans. Hyde parried Moody’s thunderous drive impressively on 72 minutes.

Evans was injured when he fell heavily after clearing the second of two quick Oxford corners. Frantic gestures were exchanged between Martin O’Neill and physiotherapist Dave Jones on the pitch, but the Wycombe skipper stoically played on. Blues had a chance to wrap it up in style when Simon Garner, who had substituted Hemmings moments before, put McGavin through with a perfectly- timed pass. But the latter took it on the wrong foot and hit his shot straight at Oxford goalkeeper Phil Whitehead. The tension tightened inexorably in the dying moments which made the final whistle, when it came after three minutes of stoppage time, the sweetest sound for Wycombe.

Wycombe: Hyde, Cousins, Howard, Crossley, Evans, Brown, Carroll, Bell, McGavin, Hemmings (sub 76 Garner), Garland - subs not used: Soloman, Moussaddik (GK)
Scorers: Carroll (41)
Bookings: none
Oxford: Whitehead, Robinson, Rogan, Lewis (sub 87 Wanless), Elliott, Gilchrist, R Ford, Rush, Moody, Dyer (sub 37 M Ford), Allen - sub not used: Deegan (GK)
Scorers: none
Bookings: Elliott 8 (red card - professional foul), Lewis 68 (foul)
Referee: K Cooper (Swindon) Attendance: 7,683

Division Two table up to and including 14th April 1995 The fourth straight home victory saw Wanderers jump into the play-off zone and speaking after the game, Wycombe boss Martin O'Neill said: “To have beaten Oxford twice this season is remarkable really. Overall we deserved to win the game. There was renewed determination about Oxford after they had a man sent off early on. We were prepared for their inevitable onslaught. But we stuck at it and held on during the last 20 minutes, although it was on a knife edge until the end."

Speaking of the chances of promotion, O'Neill told the national press: “I still think we can win our last four games and make it into the play offs." O’Neill also jested “I think the reason the club has had good years is that I am at the helm" And as a further tease to the press, added: “I will not be leaving here for the next four games at least.”

Next game for Wanderers would be the following Wednesday, away to Brighton. Although before then, most other clubs were playing on the Easter Monday, including 6th placed Crewe, who had two games in hand on Wanderers.

Next game - Brighton v Wycombe - Wednesday 19th April 1995
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