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Tranmere Rovers 3
Saturday 23rd November 2002
Football League Division Two
Sean Devine
Sean Devine - Back in the starting line-up for the game with Tranmere.
Wanderers committed defensive suicide as they conceded two goals in four second-half minutes before finally losing 3-1 to a Tranmere side who hadn't won away from home in the League since the opening day of the season.
It was another disappointing result although up until the opening goal on 63 minutes from Stuart Barlow Wanderers had always looked the side more likely to score despite fielding a side with six changes to the line-up that had lost to Brentford last Saturday.
As expected Mark Rogers replaced the suspended Danny Senda at right-back but there was a surprise in store when the starting XI included Steve Brown at left-back in place of Chris Vinnicombe who had been injured in training on the Friday. Martin Taylor returned in goal instead of Frank Talia and Darren Currie, Lewis Cook and Keith Ryan joined Michael Simpson in midfield with Dannie Bulman relegated to the bench. Sean Devine also returned after his mystery absence the previous week and partnered Andy Rammell in a front two. Richard Harris and Craig Faulconbridge were reduced to substitutes.
Devine was Wycombe's most lively player in the first half. He went close three times in the first 25 minutes and the move of the game on 35 minutes saw Lewis Cook head just a fraction wide from Darren Currie's pass.
Paul McCarthy powered a header against the crossbar when the game was still goalless on 50 minutes but after Barlow had opened the scoring the game went from bad to worse for Wycombe when Simon Haworth tucked the ball home after Taylor was left stranded following another defensive shambles.
Michael Simpson pulled a goal back on 71 minutes when he powered home a loose ball after Currie's delivery from the left had been partly scrambled away by the Tranmere defence. Wanderers pressed for an equaliser and Jonny Dixon's introduction on 85 minutes almost provided that needed spark up front. However, after Devine had fired into the side netting on 90 minutes if was left for Stuart Barlow to sneak in behind a now Wycombe back three and lob the ball over Taylor and send the travelling fans into raptures.
It was an end to game that hardly could have been predicted after a first half that saw Wycombe dominate. Graham Allen pulled an effort wide for the visitors in the second minute but Wycombe began a prolonged spell of pressure in the 8th minute when Devine curled an efforted just wide of the left hand upright from around the 25 yard mark. A snap shot by Devine on 14 minutes after a clever chip to the left edge of the penalty area saw John Achterberg save in the Rovers goal.
At the other Wycombe's reshuffled defence looked fairly comfortable although Brown's back pass on 20 minutes saw Taylor's clearance cannon off the head of Shane Nicholson but thankfully end wide of the goal. But it was Wanderers who continued to press and after Currie was tripped in the 23rd minute it was Devine who curled the resulting free-kick just wide of the target after Currie had stepped over the ball. Currie's low shot also went wide on 29 minutes from Simpson's lay-off before Wycombe's golden moment on 35 minutes, Rogers delivery forward was knocked down by Ryan to Devine in the right channel and when Currie's cross fell to the on rushing Cook a goal looked certain. However, the youngster was left holding his head as his effort finished wide of the goal.
With some many chances gone begging it was inevitable that Rovers would eventually get chances of their own. On 37 minutes Wolves loan player Adam Proudlock saw his low cross from the right elude all before Andy Thomson cleared at the far post. Then four minutes before the break Taylor blocked out Haworth at his left hand post before substitute Kevin Gray headed wide at the far post from the resulting right wing corner.
But Wycombe continued their dominance immediately after the break. Currie's corner on 48 minutes saw Simpson mis-hit his shot but Currie returned the ball into the box and after a brief goal mouth scramble referee Mike Thorpe gave a foul in favour of the Tranmere 'keeper. Two minutes later Achterberg had his crossbar to thank for keeping out a Paul McCarthy headed from six yards after Currie's flighted cross had drawn the Tranmere defence.
Wycombe's defensive lapse's began in the 63rd minute when Thomson was embarassed for pace by Barlow and the visitors were gifted their first goal of the afternoon. Four minutes later Wycombe were punished again. Currie kicked the ball away after a decision went against him and with ball moved forward close to the edge of the Wycombe penalty area Tranmere exposed Wanderers defence again and former Wigan Athletic striker Haworth scored yet again at Adams Park.
It could well have been 3-0 on 69 minutes when Taylor's challenge on Haworth wasn't deemed worthy of a penalty but Wycombe got a lifeline two minutes later when Simpson powered the ball into the Valley End net after Currie's cross from the left was only partly scrambled clear by the Rovers defence. A recovery now looked possible with Currie continuing to deliver crosses from either wing. Thomson glanced a Currie corner corner from the left wide on 79 minutes while two minutes later Rammell got the ball tangled under his feet after a delivery from the opposite flank.
The introduction of Jonny Dixon on 85 minutes proved to be a breath of fresh air for Wycombe but it came too late. The prolific scorer for Wanderers Youth Team came crashing down on the edge of the box just moments after coming on but hopeful claims for a free-kick were waved away. On the stroke of 90 minutes Dixon's presence in the box led to Devine thumping a lose ball into the side netting and with it went Wycombe's last chance to salvage a point.
Barlow's goal in the second minute of stoppage time rubbed salt into the wounds and consigned Wycombe to their third straight home defeat.
Final Score Wycombe 1 Tranmere 3
Wycombe: Taylor, Rogers, Brown (sub 85 Dixon), McCarthy, Thomson, Simpson, Cook, Ryan, Currie, Devine, Rammell - subs not used: Harris, Johnson, Bulman, Faulconbridge
Yellow Cards: Rammell, (dissent 36) Currie (kicking the ball away 66)
Tranmere: Achterberg, Connelly (sub 38 Gray), Edwards, Allen, Roberts, Proudlock, Jones, Mellon, Nicholson, Haworth, Barlow - subs not used: Howarth, Hay, Harrison, Taylor
Yellow Cards: none
Ref: Mike Thorpe (Suffolk) Att: 5,386 (334 away end)
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