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Wycombe Wanderers 1
Saturday 27th September 2003
Football League Division Two
Charlie Mapes Charlie Mapes scored his third goal for the Wanderers as a workman like team performance earned a deserved draw with the League leaders. Stephen McPhee had give the home side the lead a minute before the break with a strike past Frank Talia from six yards after Billy Paynter's long ball into the Wycombe penalty area. However, Wanderers battled back after the break and equalised on 63 minutes when a quick throw by Stuart Roberts from the right was centred by Gavin Holligan and after Dannie Bulman's effort had been blocked, Mapes was on hand to finish the job. Talia had to be in top form to prevent the home side from maintaining their 100% home league record as he saved a last minute effort from Paynter but Wanderers clung on for a result that will boost the players' confidence no end.
Team news saw Sanchez make five changes from the side that lost to Aston Villa in the midweek Carling Cup cup game. As expected Frank Talia returned in goal ahead of Steve Williams but it was the defence that saw the biggest shake up with central defenders Mark Rogers and Roger Johnson both left out with Guy Branston and Andy Thomson coming into a Wycombe back four. The midfield saw Charlie Mapes come in for Steve Brown, while Stuart Roberts was preferred to Andy Bell as Sanchez went with a midfield of five and Gavin Holligan as the lone striker. Roberts was playing his last game before a three match suspension for his red card against Colchester.
Before the game under fire Wanderers boss Lawrie Sanchez had rubbished Vale's League position. He commented "Port Vale are up there because they are playing on confidence at the moment but they won’t be up there at the finish. They’ve had a good start and it has bred confidence. We went up there last year and they were calling for the manager to be sacked. Once they get one or two knocks they will come back down."
Vale were dissapointing on the day but whether they will regard this result as a 'knock', remains to be seen. For the Wanderers, the point may prove to be vital as the season unfolds.
Not surprisingly, this was a better performance than in the previous three games where Wanderers had leaked 13 goals. Indeed, a bright start saw Bulman's free-kick deflected wide on 8 minutes and from the resulting Darren Currie corner, Wanderers almost forced the ball home. Stuart Roberts could also done better with a header a few minutes later but the Welshman had a good game overall.
Michael Simpson also saw a shot palmed away on 28 minutes and Holligan's follow up spun away after being blocked. However, Talia was not underworked. He made a brilliant one handed save from Brooker on 20 minutes and a minute before Vale opened the scoring he did well again to keep out an Andreas Lipa effort.
McPhee's goal moment before the break was obviously a body blow for Wanderers but Mapes' goal on 63 minutes was reward for further hard work from Wycombe. Vale responded briefly after the equaliser as they strived to beat Wycombe for the first time in four attempts at Vale Park. By this time Wanderers had reverted to a 4-4-2 formation with Andy Bell and Richard Harris introduced for Roberts and Holligan. However, it was the home side who looked most likely to snatch a winner but they found Talia a difficult man to beat, culminating in the 88th minute when Brooker was denied at the last moment after Chris Vinnicombe had also got in an important challenge.
Certainly this was an improvement on recent games but there's still no hiding from the fact that Wanderers have still not registered a League win in nine attempts and have just six points from 10 games.
Final Score - Port Vale 1 Wycombe 1
Wycombe: Talia, Senda, Thomson, Branston, Vinnicombe, Bulman, Mapes (sub 71 Cook), Simpson, Currie, Roberts (sub 83 Harris), Holligan (sub 83 Bell) - subs not used: Oliver, Williams
Bookings: Thomson (foul 14), Senda (deliberate handball 34), Simpson (foul 36)
Scorers: Mapes (63)
Port Vale: Delaney, Pilkington, Collins, Burns, Brown, McPhee, Lipa, Boyd (sub 82 Birchall), Littlejohn (sub 75 Armstrong), Brooker, Paynter - subs not used: Brisco, Rowland, Brain
Bookings: none
Scorers: McPhee (43)
Referee: Mr Roy Pearson Attendance: 6,822 (151 away section)
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