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Darlington 1
Saturday 19th February 2005
Football League 'League Two'
Goalscorer Steve Claridge in action against DarlingtonWycombe came from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Darlington at Adams Park. Wanderers dominated proceedings early on but fell behind on 33 minutes when Clyde Wijnhard sent a clever back header inside Frank Talia's right-hand post. Wycombe hit back within two minutes and got back on level terms when Ian Stonebridge's run from midfield ended with a shot that came back off the crossbar and into the path of Steve Claridge who made no mistake finishing with a close range header for his second goal of the week. It was Wycombe who went closest to winning the game in the second period when Gus Uhlenbeek's ball from the right bye-line on 69 minutes saw Claridge direct in a header that Sam Russell in the Darlo goal did well to push around his left-hand upright.
Wycombe team news saw Steve Guppy return after a successful operation on his achilles injury while Nathan Tyson was rested following his hamstring problem suffered in the midweek victory over Scunthorpe.
Wanderers' bright start saw Keith Ryan go close as he slid in on a low cross from the left in the 2nd minute by Claridge, while Matt Bloomfield had a good shout for a penalty in the 9th minute when he looked to have his legs taken away from by Clarke on the right bye-line.
Talia averted danger at the other end on 10 minutes while Guppy's cross from the left in the 20th minute saw Ryan fire just wide of the right-hand post with an effort from the edge of the penalty area. Bloomfield shot wide too five minutes later before Wycombe were caught with a sucker punch when a harmless looking Bobby Petta free-kick from the right culminated with an unmarked Wijnhard able to direct his header into the left corner of the net.
Any prolonged thoughts of 'here we go again' from the Wycombe camp were quickly stiffled when Claridge was first to react to Stonebridge's shot that had hit the crossbar and from that point on Wycombe looked the side more likely to take the points.
On 43 minutes a good move down the Wycombe right saw Danny Senda cross from the bye-line but Bloomfield got tangled up when trying to convert near the far post. A minute later Senda flighted in a ball from the right that Roger Johnson dived in to head fractionally wide at the opposite hand post.
Half-time 1-1
Moments after the restart Guppy went close at the near post after Uhlenbeek had worked some space on the right and delivered a cross that had Russell in the Darlington goal scrambling to clear. The visitors 'keeper also made the save of the match on 69 minutes after Clint Easton had worked the ball from midfield to Uhlenbeek on the right who then centred for Claridge to head goalwards and force a full length save to the 'keepers left.
Ian Stonebridge set up chance for first goal against Darlington The closest the visitors came to snatching a winner came on 78 minutes when a break down the right ended with Alun Armstrong firing his shot on the run over the cross-bar. Meanwhile, Wycombe introduced Jonny Dixon and David Perpetuini in the latter stages but neither could influence the game enough for Wanderers to claim all three points. The result keeps Wycombe in tenth place in the table ahead of Tuesday's trip to Mansfield on Tuesday (22nd February).
Final Score - Wycombe 1 Darlington 1
Wanderers coach Steve Brown fielded the press conference after the game. He said to BBC Three Counties Radio that it was a massive point and a step in the right direction, adding "It was a tough battle. Darlington are a very good footballing side. They came here and set their stall out and got themselves in front. It was good that we reacted positively and got ourselves back on level terms very quickly. It was a good point. I thought we played very well and could have had three points but in the end a very big point."
Meanwhile, Darlington boss Dave Hodgson was pleased with an improvement in his side's performance having lost at home to struggling Notts County the previous week. He commented "There was a big improvement in desire and commitment. It was a good point for both sides, and as their manager John Gorman said, both sides tried to win it, and both sides tried not to get beat."
Wycombe: Talia, Senda, Easton, Johnson, Nethercott, Ryan, Bloomfield (sub 63 Williamson), Uhlenbeek (sub 74 Dixon), Guppy (sub 80 Perpetuini), Stonebridge, Claridge - subs not used: Silk, Martin
Bookings: none
Scorers: Claridge (35)
Darlington: Sam Russell, McGurk, Liddle, Clarke, Wainwright, Convery, Gregorio (sub 74 Kendrick), Close, Petta (sub 82 St'Juste), Armstrong, Wijnhard - subs not used Craig Russell, Thomas, Fleming
Bookings: none
Scorers: Wijnhard (33)
Referee: K Wright Attendance: 4,326 (away end 258)
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