Face-to-Face with the Hatters
Deciding upon a match at Edgeley Park to feature in this article is a little like watching a horror film. Our visits to Stockport have generally been miserable affairs and our record of no wins in eleven and two points from a possible 27 means only the most optimistic Chairboys will be making the trip again tomorrow for the next instalment in the nightmare. You might like to know that the Hatters haven`t won a game in their last 16 attempts. Their last win came on 27th February 2010 against - yes; you`ve guessed it - Wycombe Wanderers. That was a 4-3 defeat played on a pitch from the dark side of the moon. Winning at Edgeley Park really would be a giant leap for the Blues.
The 2005/06 season had begun in fine style for the Chairboys under manager John Gorman. He had made a number of impressive signings during the summer and had moulded them into a team that was no less impressive. The side was unbeaten in its opening eight games of the new campaign, scoring 14 and conceding 7. The only downside of the new era dubbed "Gormania" was the failure to turn performances into victories. Five of the eight games had ended in draws and frustration and the Blues travelled to Edgeley Park hoping to take three points from a struggling Hatters side managed by former Manchester United goalkeeper Chris Turner. 150 Chairboys made the trip and were part of a 3,507 crowd.
John Gorman made one change to his starting line-up from the eleven that had drawn 1-1 with Northampton Town at Adams Park the previous Friday. Midfielder Rob Lee came in for Ian Stonebridge who dropped to the bench. He was joined there by Matt Bloomfield who returned after an ankle injury. The County line-up included ex-Wanderers youth teamer Michael Malcolm.
The Wycombe side lined-up as follows:
Danny Senda - Roger Johnson - Mike Williamson - Clint Easton
Kevin Betsy - Rob Lee - Joe Burnell - Stefan Oakes
Tommy Mooney - Nathan Tyson
Stockport County lined-up as follows: Carl Ikeme - Keith Briggs, Anthony Vaughan, Rob Clare, Mark Robinson - Michael Malcolm, Danny Boshell, Mickael Wolski, Matthew Hamshaw - Jermaine Easter, Ludovic Dje
The game started in the usual fashion with Wycombe looking to attack from the kick off and taking the lead after just 13 minutes. Kevin Betsy raided down the right flank and played in Nathan Tyson who fired past home goalkeeper Carl Ikeme from a narrow angle. Yet within two minutes some calamitous defending saw the hosts equalise when an aimless ball forward wasn`t dealt with by Roger Johnson and confusion with goalkeeper Frank Talia allowed Jermaine Easter to steal the ball and tap home into an empty net to make it 1-1. Six minutes later the Wanderers regained the lead when Johnson`s run into the opponents box was ended by defender Tony Vaughan`s clumsy foul on the defender. Referee Clive Oliver pointed to the spot and Tyson coolly slipped the ball into the net from 12 yards. It looked as though the visitors would take their lead into the half-time break however yet more clowning around in defence allowed the Hatters to level again. Danny Senda and Joe Burnell clattered into each other trying to clear a left-wing cross and the ball was whipped in from the right for ex-Wanderer Michael Malcolm to head home at the far stick past Talia.
The second half was just six minutes old when the Chairboys took the lead for a third time. Tommy Mooney raced down the left-wing and crossed low for Tyson to tuck the ball home at the near post to complete his hat-trick. There was no resting on their laurels and the Blues (or on the day - whites) created a whole host of chances with Senda hitting the post and both Johnson and Mooney missing opportunities to increase the lead. Bloomfield replaced Tyson with 19 minutes remaining in what might have been interpreted as an attempt to shut up shop. If it was then it failed as with just ten minutes remaining Talia came racing out of his goal to clumsily bring Matt Hawshaw crashing to the turf. The referee wasn`t going to miss the opportunity to even things up and pointed to the spot. Jermaine Easter stepped up to send Talia the wrong way and make it 3-3.
Easter nearly completed his hat-trick a minute later when he flashed a shot just wide of goal. Jonny Dixon replaced Rob Lee in an attempt to find a winning goal but the closest they came was when Clint Easton's 20-yard shot was pushed over by Ikeme in the final minute and the Chairboys had to settle for their fourth successive draw.
John Gorman immediate reaction afterwards was: "What can I say?" He continued: "It was great to play against a team that wanted to play against us. We've scored three goals but we've killed ourselves by losing three goals. I told them at half time to play the same, to attack, attack, attack. We then scored a beautiful goal but we could have had six."
His opposite number Chris Turner added "That game was way above the level of Second Division and Wycombe were by far the best team we have played. The two strikers caused us a lot of problems but to be fair they are above this division. We showed great character coming back. Wycombe have invested heavily compared to ourselves in terms of the playing squad and I thought we matched them for a lot of the action."