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Wycombe Wanderers 0
Saturday 21st January 2006
Football League 'League Two'
Pre-match at Barnet A highly emotional day at Barnet saw an impeccably observed minute's silence for Mark Philo proceed a goalless game were both sets of defenders dominated. Wanderers, urged on by an estimated following of close to 2,000, had the better chances during the 90 minutes with Kevin Betsy, Danny Senda and Sergio Torres all going close to breaking the deadlock, while a late corner from Stefan Oakes saw a goalmouth scramble before Barnet 'keeper Ross Flitney managed to claim.
Team news for Wycombe saw the return of Roger Johnson after his one match suspension but John Gorman retained on loan Aidan Collins in the line-up as he went with a back three. As expected, Charlie Griffin and Matt Bloomfield were missing due to injury - the latter after the midfielder suffered a slight hamstring strain in training. Ian Stonebridge came on as substitute for the the final ten minutes for his first Wycombe appearance since the middle of October having spent a spell on loan at Torquay.
Wanderers first clear cut opening of the day came on 18 minutes when Betsy delivered a low cross from the left that was just missing the vital touch at the far post. Senda's first close effort of the day came in the 30th minute when he cut in from the right following Betsy's pass only to blast the ball into the side netting. At the other end on loan 'keeper Matt Duke was rarely tested although he did make a fine tip over even though the assistant referee had spotted an offside.
Kicking down the slope in the second-half, Wanderers continued to create the better chances but were generally snuffed out in the final ball due to resilient defending from the home side, including an outstanding display from the highly rated Simon King. Elsewhere in the Barnet side former Gilligham midfielder Andy Hessenthaler was making his debut for The Bees.
A weaving run from Torres just after the hour mark ended with Senda firing wide of the right upright again, while three minutes later Betsy saw a shot tipped wide by Flitney. Ian Stonebridge and Jonny Dixon were thrown into the fray in the closing minutes as Wanderers converted to a front three but despite the best efforts to claim the winner it was not to be. Results elsewhere saw Wycombe retain top spot in the table but it was perhaps a day where results were of lesser importance than normal.
Final Score - Barnet 0 Wycombe 0
Speaking to BBC Three Counties Radio after the game John Gorman said his said had performed magnificent under the circumstances and had deserved to win, adding "The annoying thing was that Barnet for some reason got inspired and the crowd was bigger than they normally get and the effort from their players was fantastic. All they did was stop. We tried to win the game." Commenting further on the performance of his side, the Wycombe boss said, "It was totally professional but totally emotional. We had to curb our emotions the best we can. We had a minute's silence and then a huddle. We also had one in the dressing room and there were tears on the players when the game started." Talking of Wanderers' large travelling contingent, Gorman said "They were so emotional too. We wanted to win it for them and give something for them to really celebrate, because they deserved a celebration of somebody's life today."
Meanwhile, Barnet boss Paul Fairclough was pleased with the outcome of the game, saying to The Bees official website, "It was a difficult game for us against a team who have had a very, very difficult week plus the added pressure of them being top of the league and bringing down so many fantastic fans. We had to cope with that and I think we have done exceptionally well." And Fairclough praised both sets of fans for their part in a difficult situation, saying, "The good thing about this football club at Barnet is that we have a group of hardcore supporters who stay together. We had a fantastic time last season and this season we have gone up to Manchester United which was fantastic for everyone but at the moment we are having a bit of a tough time but the supporters are staying strong and supporting the players and that's what you need at a football club. That was demonstrated with the Wycombe supporters today. What a fantastic testimony to football itself at this level and the strength of the supporters to come over in the numbers they did to pay respects to the young player was very emotional for everyone here."
Wycombe: Duke, Johnson, Williamson (sub 80 Stonebridge), Collins, Senda, Oakes, Burnell, Torres (sub 87 Dixon), Easton, Betsy, Mooney - subs not used: Williams, Martin, Lee
Bookings: none
Scorers: none
Barnet: Flitney, Fuller, King, Yakubu (sub 74 Batt), Gross, Bailey, Hessenthaler, Graham, Sinclair, Soares, Grazioli (sub 88 Varney) - subs not used: Jones, Bowditch, Vernazza
Bookings: none
Scorers: none
Referee: Mr K Woolmer Attendance: 3,602 (approx 1,800 away sections)
In memory of Mark Philo
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