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Team news for Wycombe at Darlington's elaborate stadium had Gary Silk serving a one match suspension after he reached five yellow cards for the season during the previous week's 1-1 draw with Mansfield. Matt Bloomfield was moved to the bench after he had suffered discomfort with his shoulder since the Mansfield game. Clint Easton remained out with his knee injury and it's been estimated it will be another two weeks before he returns to action.
Despite the post match finger pointing at the officials it was ultimately Wanderers lack of finishing power coupled with another disjointed midfield display proved costly. There were half-chances for Adam Birchall and Joe Burnell in the opening minutes but the home responded on 18 minutes when Wijnhard had forced a save from Talia from the right side of the penalty area. Craig Hignett also forced Talia to save from a similar position on 32 minutes after he had got past Millwall loanee Tony Craig. It took Wycombe until past the half-hour mark to get another serious effort in on goal when Tyson saw a low shot from the left deflected wide for a corner.
Darlington's penalty on 35 minutes was apparently the first they had been awarded since March 2003 and looked a fairly soft decision. To rub salt into the wounds, the tackle on Tyson three minutes seemed more blatant but referee Robinson was close to the action and pointed immediately for a goal-kick. It could have got worse for Wycombe two minutes before the break when Wycombe were exposed again down the right but Stuart Nethercott was in the right place to clear Alun Armstrong's header off the line.
Half-time Darlington 0 Wycombe 1
Wanderers pushed three up front in the second period and intially caused the home side problems. Tyson saw a shot on the turn saved a minute after the restart while Stonebridge will be unhappy that he didn't smash home the equaliser on 55 minutes. Three minutes later Stonebridge laid the ball off to Ryan just right of goal but the shot was high of the target.
Zema Abbey replaced Tyson just before the hour mark and Tony Adams went on to replace Stonebridge and Ryan with Jonny Dixon and Matt Bloomfield respectively. However, while Wycombe enjoyed more of the possession, on too many occasions passes were left short or were simply inaccurate. Abbey's flick onto the post in the 78th minute almost forced a leveller but there was never enough invention from Wycombe to crack the Darlington defence and The Quakers could have doubled their winning margin in the closing stages when Armstrong headed against the post with the ball rebounding back into the hands of Talia.
Final Score - Darlington 1 Wycombe 0
Speaking after the game to BBC 3 Counties Radio Tony Adams said he was disappointed with the result and thought that refereeing decisions had cost Wycombe the game, commenting "We could have easily run out 3-1 winners but the referee has decided the game. Mike (Williamson) is adamant that he didn't push him so you've got to go with the players. I like to think it has got to be 100% nowadays." However, the Wycombe boss was looking forward to the games coming up, adding "There is plenty to play for and hopefully the luck will turn and we will start winning games. It's a fine line at this level. Hopefully before you know it we will be playing crap and getting the three points."
This report is dedicated to the memory of John Peel who passed away on Tuesday 26th October. Peel shaped the musical tastes of generations lasting more than 40 years. His love for music was almost matched by his passion for football and in particular Liverpool F.C. He was genuinely one of life's good guys, able to see through the commercialised nonsense that has blighted both the music and football industries. Our sincere condolences go out to all his family, friends and millions of fans worldwide.
"Teenage dreams, so hard to beat" R.I.P. John
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