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Wycombe Wanderers 0
Saturday 22nd March 2003
Football League Division Two
Wanderers players had a discussion with the fans at Saltergate.[player profiles ]
Wanderers turned in a shocking second-half display at Saltergate to fall to their biggest defeat of the season and against a side that had lost 4-0 at home to Colchester just four days previous. It was a result that was hard to swallow for Wycombe followers and officials alike and led to some bizarre scenes after the final whistle. Lawrie Sanchez directed his dejected players over towards the Wycombe supporters who had made the journey to Saltergate and what followed were some frank and open discussions that had the stewards looking on in amazement.
Speaking after the game Sanchez said he asked the players to go over to the fans and apologise for the manner of their performance but the idea somewhat backfired when much of the critcism was aimed at the Wycombe Manager as the good old tactics debate reared its head again. Some fans were also upset that the Manager had spent much of the game sitting in the stand rather than in the dugout and had also seemingly avoided the half-time team talk.
Incredibly Wycombe had been the better side for the opening 15 minutes of this game. Fielding an unchanged line-up to the one that had beaten Peterborough in the week, Darren Currie and Jonny Dixon both went close before the home side began to expose Wanderers defence.
After a brief spell of home pressure the deadlock was finally broken with a great strike from Brian Close in the 29th minute after a cross from the left had eluded the Wycombe defence. But still Wycombe could have been level at the break. Wycombe had the ball in the net on 31 minutes but play was brought back for a foul on Steve Brown and from the resulting free-kick by Dannie Bulman the ball eventually fell to Currie who fired just over. Then on the stroke of half-time a Brown corner from the right was curling into the far corner of the goal before Close cleared off the line.
Half-time Chesterfield 1 Wycombe 0
Wanderers second-half display was abysmal and if it hadn't been for Frank Talia the final score line could have been much worse. Within a couple of minutes of the restart a poor clearance by Mark Rogers gave Reeves the chance to cross from the right where Mark Hudson connected only for Talia to somehow deflect the ball over the crossbar.
But the home side didn't have to wait long for their second goal. On 53 minutes a free-kick from the left by Mark Allott was only cleared as far as Chris Brandon on the opposite flank whose cross back into the centre was headed home from close range by David Reeves despite a good effort to block by Talia.
A triple substitution followed with Currie, Ryan and Brown being replaced by Andy Rammell, Martyn Lee and Gavin Holligan. The formation changed to something like a 5-2-3 set-up but after McSporran went close from Rammell knock down on 61 minutes Wanderers collapsed. On 67 minutes Wycombe lost possession from their own attack and Brandon scored on the break from the left channel. Then with four minutes remaining and Wycombe still unable to get a serious attempt at goal it was Mark Hudson who smashed the ball past Talia from 20 yards plus after Brandon's pass had split the Wycombe defence again. Dixon got in a good shot on goal with two minutes remaining as Richmond was forced into a rare piece of action but it was Talia who was involved again in the final piece of significant action when he saved well from Glynn Hurst.
Truly a day to forget for Wycombe fans but for anybody who went to the game it will be a long time before this catastrophe and the after match scenes are put to the back of the mind. Thankfully Wycombe already have 49 points with seven games remaining, four of those against sides below them in the league, so fears of relegation are minimal. What we've got to look forward to next season is another matter.
Final Score Chesterfield 4 Wycombe 0
Quotes and Exclusive Pictures - Saltergate March 2003
More quotes and pictures - Saltergate March 2003
Wycombe: Talia, Thomson, Rogers, Johnson, Senda, Ryan (sub 56 Lee), Brown (sub 56 Holligan), Bulman, Currie (sub 56 Rammell), McSporran, Dixon - subs not used: McCarthy, Williams
Yellow Cards: none
Chesterfield: Richmond, Blatherwick, Payne, O'Hare, Close, Hudson, Allott, Edwards (sub 3 Rushbury), Brandon, Folan (sub HT Hurst), Reeves - subs not used: Booty, Dawson, Williams
Yellow Cards: Close (foul 55), Blatherwick (foul 72)
Referee: Michael Jones Attendance: 3,081 (approx 400 away fans)
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