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Wycombe Wanderers 4
Tuesday 22nd February 2005
Football League 'League Two'
Steve Claridge - two goals in victory at Mansfield Wanderers scored more than twice in a League game for the first time in nearly eleven months as they came from behind to beat Mansfield Town 4-1 at a snow covered Field Mill. Going in goalless at half-time there was little indication of what was to come and after Richard Barker had fired the home side in front on 54 minutes things looked awkward for Wycombe. However, Danny Senda's cross on 58 minutes to the back post saw Alex Neil handball and Steve Claridge power home the resulting spot kick. Three minutes later Wycombe were ahead when Steve Guppy crossed and Ian Stonebridge swept the ball in at the second attempt. Wanderers then survived some home pressure where Barker went close and Senda turned the ball against his own post. However, Wycombe scored twice in the dying minutes to register their eight away win of the campaign. On 87 minutes Claridge put in Gus Uhlenbeek who deceived Kevin Pilkington in the home goal with a 30 yard plus strike. Uhlenbeek repaid Claridge in stoppage time when he crossed from the right for the 'veteran' to notch his fourth goal in three games and keep Wycombe's play-off chase on course.
John Gorman stuck with the same starting line-up that had drawn at home to Darlington the previous weekend. Both Nathan Tyson and Joe Burnell were still missing with their respective injuries but there was a surprise return on the bench for Mark Philo after he had been given the all clear from Lilleshall earlier in the day to resume First Team action. Philo's day may come later in the season as this game saw 38 year old Claridge take the honours.
There was a doubt that the game would even take place due to the freezing conditions. The pitch had been given the all-clear following a morning inspection but snow fall in the hour leading up to kick-off left a carpet of white on the pitch at kick-off time. However, underneath the surface was perfectably playable and made for some exciting football at times.
Wycombe probably edged the first-half with Johnson heading wide in the early stages and both Stonebridge and Bloomfield going close before the 15 minute mark. At the other end Frank Talia made good stops from Adam Rundle and Colin Larkin - the latter the best effort for the home side in the opening 45 minutes. Wanderers best chance of the half came after Guppy had centered from the left but Claridge side footed his shot wide of the post.
Half-time 0-0
Talia made a good save from a Barker shot on the turn less than an minute after the restart before Claridge continued to be a threat for The Stags when he forced a goal line clearance after Pilkington spilled a effort from Stonebridge. Wanderers then conceded the first goal for the 23rd time in their 34 League matches so far in the 2004/5 campaign. However, it proved to be the 13th time Wycombe had managed to salvage something after falling behind. This time it took three minutes to level when Senda's second effort at crossing from the right struck the hand of Neil to concede a penalty. Claridge made no mistake from the spot to level the scores. Three more minutes and Wanderers were ahead after Stonebridge scored his third goal of the season.
An intense spell of pressure from the home side saw Senda deflect a Richie Barker shot onto his own post in the 70th minute but after Gary Silk replaced Guppy in midfield it was Wycombe who tightened things up to finish the stronger side and run out comfortable winners.
Claridge could have scored again on 82 minutes when one on one with the 'keeper but Pilkington managed to save with his legs. But Claridge never stopped running and was involved again as Uhlenbeek scored his first goal in a Wycombe shirt. A long ball forward was met by Claridge who found Uhlenbeek whose shot from distance went through the legs of Pilkington who had advanced outside his penalty area and the ball eventually overcame the snow to cross the line for 3-1 to Wycombe. Nethercott cleared off the line as the home side threatened to reduce the deficit but Claridge's goal in stoppage put the icing on Wanderers' biggest away victory since the 5-0 mauling of Northampton Town in January 2003.
Final Score - Mansfield 1 Wycombe 4
Wanderers boss John Gorman was delighted with the result but admitted that he was unhappy that the game had gone ahead. Commenting to the press he said "That was another magnificent result for us. When we arrived at the ground I must admit I didn't want to play as I didn't think the snow would suit our passing game. But Carlton (Palmer) wanted it on as they'd been getting some great results and were full of confidence so it's probably backfired on him. I thought we mastered the conditions superbly and played some very good football considering." Meanwhile, Stags Manager Carlton Palmer was not too complimentary about Wycombe, saying "That result was inexplicable. I can't explain it and the players can't explain it. I'm disappointed in the manner of the goals we conceded but I won't criticise individuals." He added "Wycombe have not deserved to win this 4-1 with the way they played - we have simply gifted them four goals." Gorman thought his team should have led at the break but was impressed again with the comeback to lead 2-1, concluding "Mansfield then had their best spell of the game before we got the third. It as another great away result and we now have to start playing with more confidence at home as well."
Wycombe: Talia, Senda, Easton, Johnson, Nethercott, Ryan, Bloomfield, Uhlenbeek, Guppy (sub 71 Silk), Stonebridge, Claridge - subs not used: Dixon, Perpetuini, Martin, Philo
Bookings: none
Scorers: Claridge (58 pen, 92), Stonebridge (61), Uhlenbeek (87)
Mansfield: Pilkington, Jelleyman, Buxton, Baptiste, Neil, Rundle, McLachlan (sub 65 Asamoah), Curtis, Murray, Larkin, Barker - subs not used: White, Smeltz, Dimech, Lloyd
Bookings: Jelleyman (foul 63)
Scorers: Barker (54)
Referee: F Graham Attendance: 2,497 (away end 91)
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