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Wycombe Wanderers 0
Saturday 12th April 2003
Football League Division Two
Keith Ryan
Keith Ryan - went closest for Wycombe.[player profiles ]
Lawrie Sanchez was left left looking to the skies after a headed stoppage time goal by Gary Jones saw Wanderers cruelly beaten at Prenton Park. Speaking to BBC Three Counties Radio after the game the Wycombe boss said "You can't upset the footballing gods against Chesterfield and just get away with the one game. It's cost us cruelly today. But if we perform like that and like we did against Cardiff we will pick up points from now until the end of the season. I thought we were excellent to be honest."
Fielding an unchanged line-up to the one that lost 4-0 to Cardiff in the week, Wycombe just about held their own in the first half but were always on the back foot during the second period.
As expected Sanchez stuck with a 4-4-2 formation after reverting back to this style for the first time in the year for the midweek meeting with Cardiff. He told the press before the game "It will be 4-4-2 again. I think it worked well and it is my preferred option".
There was a surprise inclusion on the bench for Wycombe with Richard Harris returning after he was passed fit following a ten week lay-off with a hamstring injury. Harris replaced Jonny Dixon mid-way through the second-half who minutes before had gone close when he shot against the 'keepers legs following good work from Chris Vinnicombe and Keith Ryan. Earlier in the half Mark Rogers was forced off with a suspected hamstring problem and was replaced by Andy Thomson who put in a solid performance alongside Roger Johnson.
The two teams went into this match with contrasting runs. Wanderers had conceded four in each of their three previous matches while Tranmere were on an unbeaten run of ten and still looking at a possible play-off place. However, it was Wanderers who had created the better chances early on. Steve Brown saw a well struck effort saved by Rovers' young 'keeper Russell Howarth in the 9th minute while six minutes later Dannie Bulman saw his shot blocked before Dixon's follow-up hit the cross-bar, albeit from an offside position.
Steve Brown picked up a booking in the 17th minute for a foul on Iain Anderson that will see him miss the final two games of the season. Moments later Anderson and Tyrone Loran both went close for the home side.
Wanderers best chance of the game came in the 32nd minute when Ryan's header was spectacularly pushed over from the under the cross bar by Howarth. Then from the resulting corner by Darren Currie there was a scramble at the far post before Johnson's shot on the turn went high of the target.
Rovers turned on the pressure during a five minute spell leading up to the break. First Simon Haworth saw a shot blocked by Johnson and moments later Frank Talia saved to his left from Iain Hume following a slip up by Rogers. Talia blocked again from Anderson as Wanderers were grateful to go into the break on level terms.
Half-time 0-0
Ryan headed just over for Wycombe five minutes after the re-start but it was Talia to the rescue again two minutes later when he made a point blank save from a Gary Jones header following Connolly's free kick from the left.
But with Tranmere attempting to step up the pressure it was Wycombe who nearly hit them on the break on the hour mark when Chris Vinnicombe raced out from defence before an exchange with Ryan ended with Dixon shooting at the 'keepers legs.
The final third of the game proved to be a scrappy affair, broken up by substitutions and niggly fouls. Bulman can probably count himself lucky for not conceding a penalty in the 66th minute when he appeared to push Tyrone Loran in the back. Thankfully for Wycombe, olf friend Mr Olivier wasn't even close to the action and gave nothing.
Olivier went even further down in the home side's estimations in the 88th minute when he booked Jones for dissent after he claimed the Rovers player had dived following a challenge from Thomson.
It looked like Wycombe had gained a deserved point as the game went in the third and final minute of stoppage time. However, Bulman gave away a free-kick on the left for a foul on Gareth Roberts, allowing Mickey Mellon to deliver and Jones to flick a backwards header past Talia. It was Wanderers enter the final few weeks of a season looking nervously at the wrong end of the table.
Final Score Tranmere 1 Wycombe 0
Wycombe: Talia, Senda, Johnson, Rogers (sub 53 Thomson), Vinnicombe, Ryan, Bulman, Simpson, Brown, Currie (sub 75 Roberts), Dixon (sub 69 Harris) - subs not used Holligan, Cook
Yellow Cards: Brown (foul 17)
Tranmere: Howarth, Connelly, Allen, Sharps, Roberts, Anderson, Loran (sub 73 Mellon), Jones, Nicholson (ubs 65 Price), Hume, Haworth - subs not used: Achterberg, Hinds, Taylor
Yellow Cards: Connelly (foul 10), Jones (dissent 88)
Referee: Ray Olivier Attendance: 6,814 (approx 200 away end)
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