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Wycombe Wanderers 0
Saturday 6th September 2003
Football League Division Two
Thing about to go pear shaped at Rushden after just three minutes Wanderers had a day to forget at Nene Park, going down 2-0 after being forced to play with an outfield player in goal for 86 minutes. To cap it all Lawrie Sanchez was sent from the dugout after Rodney Jack had given the home side the lead on 35 minutes and then with six minutes remaining Chris Vinnicombe was sent off for a second bookable offence and from the resulting free-kick Onandi Lowe fired in a second goal to seal victory for the home side.
To Wycombe's credit they never gave up the fight and only a brilliant save by Diamond's keeper Billy Turley in the 59th minute from a Dannie Bulman shot prevented Wanderers levelling. Wanderers first stand-in keeper Richard Harris was sent back up front after Steve Brown took his turn in goal but despite being urged on by a vociferous away support, Wanderers could not find the target and Lowe's late goal just added to the misery as Wycombe dropped into the bottom four.
Frank sees red at Rushden Wanderers day of woe began in the third minute when Frank Talia dashed around 15 yards outside his penalty area to challenge a high ball with Lowe. The challenge was messy and totally unnecssary considering Mark Rogers was also in close attendance. The Rushden player collapsed under the challenge and referee Phil Crossley judged it not only a foul but a clear goal scoring opportunity and promptly produced a red card for Talia. Harris donned the keeper's shirt and did as well as could be expected until Brown tryed his luck between the sticks for the final thirty minutes.
Wanderers started this first ever senior meeting with Rushden and Diamonds making two changes from the side that had lost to Sheffield Wednesday the previous Monday. Danny Senda won his place back at right back in place of Steve Dell while Dannie Bulman replaced the injured Charlie Mapes in midfield. Gavin Holligan returned on the bench with Jonny Dixon out with knee injury suffered in a midweek reserve fixture at Southend.
Even before the sending off Wanderers didn't look comfortable at the back. Jack fired an early effort past Talia's right hand post in the 2nd minute but moments later the Aussie 'keeper was heading down the tunnel. With no substitute 'keeper on the bench Harris took over in goal but it was a good 25 minutes before he was tested by the Rushden forwards.
Wanderers get back in numbers to block a free-kick Lowe dragged a shot wide on 28 minutes while a couple of minutes later Harris held the ball longer than the regulation six seconds and Rushden were awareded an indirect free-kick. A seven man Wanderers wall blocked the initial kick and then Vinnicombe headed the follow up off the goal line.
Wanderers first sight of goal came in the 34th minute when Jermaine McSporran held the ball up before laying off to Iffy Onuora who shot wide of the far right hand post. However, a minute later Wanderers were behind. A disputed throw-in lead to Rushden switching the ball to their left wing. Stuart Gray got pass Senda on the bye-line and when Harris spilled the ball, Jack poked the ball home ahead of Roger Johnson.
Half-time Rushden 1 Wycombe 0
Wanderers began the second-half with a bitter determination as they kicked towards the noisey travelling support. McSporran had a golden opportunity to level the scores after 52 minutes when he was presented with a one-on-one on the left flank but he shot weakly at the 'keeper. At the other end Harris was penalised for picking up a back pass on 57 minutes but David Bell saw the shot following the resulting free-kick blocked.
Bulman looked certain to score on 59 minutes but for a fantastic reaction save from Turley. The chance came after Darren Currie had chipped the ball in from the left. It was then headed back by Johnson for Onuora to hold up and place in the path of Bulman around 6 yards from goal but the shot was too straight to beat the 'keeper.
A change of tactics saw Harris return to his normal striking role but it was Johnson who went close for Wycombe on 70 minutes when a brave diving header cleared the cross-bar from Currie's free-kick from the right.
Much to the amusement of the Wycombe fans, Lowe skied an effort over the cross bar on 73 minutes before another good goal scoring chance came Wycombe's way, this time a first time cross from the right by Harris almost finding Holligan at the near post. It proved to be Wanderers final fling at goal. Chris Vinnicombe was extremely unlucky to receive a second yellow card when he kicked a moving ball away literally a fraction of a second after the referee had blown for a foul. Lowe adding a second from the resulting free-kick confirmed this was not to be Wycombe's day.
Final Score - Rushden 2 Wycombe 0
Wycombe: Talia, Senda, Johnson, Rogers (sub 76 Roberts), Vinnicombe, McSporran (sub 71 Holligan), Bulman, Simpson, Currie, Onuora (sub 60 Brown), Harris - subs not used: Dell, Thomson
Bookings: Vinnicombe (foul 16), McSporran (foul 18)
Red Cards: Talia (denied obvious goal-scoring opportunity 4), Vinnicombe (2nd bookable offence - dissent 84)
Rushden: Turley, Bignot (sub 14 Sambrook), Underwood, Edwards, Hunter, Jack (sub 58 Darby), Burgess, Gray, Bell (sub 73 Mills), Hall, Lowe - subs not used: Dempster, Talbot
Bookings: Gray (foul 61)
Scorers: Jack (35), Lowe (85)
Referee: Mr P Crossley Attendance: 4,192 (677 away section)
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