Football / FA Cup: O'Neill shows delight at draw

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The Independent Online
Wycombe Wanderers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

West Bromwich Albion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

FOR an hour we had not so much a Cup tie, more an affirmation of the difference in class between Second Division high-fliers and the pick of the Vauxhall Conference. Then Wycombe Wanderers scored twice, the crowd roared and the ground shook with passion and fervour. The real thing at last.

So West Bromwich Albion have it all to do again at the Hawthorns a week tomorrow when they know a second chance in the second round should not have entered Wycombe's planning in a season which looks likely to end with them promoted to the Football League.

Two ahead at half-time Albion should have doubled that and more by the time Glyn Creaser advanced for a 71st-minute corner and headed into the net. Joy and renewed belief ran through the Wycombe ranks like a surge of electricity. The West Bromwich manager, Ossie Ardiles, said afterwards that their opponents could run faster and jump higher because of it. And shoot harder in the case of Steve Thompson who, five minutes from time, plundered an equaliser from 30 yards.

The moment of fame for Thompson left Martin O'Neill, the Wycombe manager and former Nottingham Forest and Northern Ireland midfielder, 'ecstatic' especially as it had been 'a godsend' that they trailed by only two at the interval.

O'Neill's delight lit up his progressive club for some time afterwards - 'I'll be lacerated with drink tonight ' - but he was threatening dark deeds in respect of his striker Kim Casey who headed wide a second-minute chance and sustained a dislocated shoulder in the collision with Naylor. 'If I'm anywhere near the hospital I'll dislocate his other one because he really should have scored,' the manager said.

Keith Scott also slipped his effort wide when Thompson first showed what he was capable of. That was in the 14th minute by which time West Brom were 1-0 up through their captain Darren Bradley and beginning to enjoy themselves.

In attack the experience of Simon Garner and Bob Taylor was a telling factor, the latter driving home the second in the 43rd minute after Bradley and Ian Hamilton had combined.

Taylor later saw Paul Hyde tip a strong header on to the bar, the goalkeeper also making a fine stop from a Garner break. He looked just to be keeping the score down for the part-timers. No one guessed how valuable those saves would turn out to be.

Wycombe Wanderers: Hyde; Cousins, Crossley, Hutchinson, Creaser, Thompson, Carroll, Casey (Greene, 6), Stapleton, Scott, Guppy. Substitue not used: Buckle.

West Bromwich Albion: Naylor; Reid, Linwall, Bradley (Williams, 76), Raven, Strodder, Garner, Hamilton, Taylor, McNally, Robson (Donavan, 51).

Referee: K Cooper (Mid Glamorgan).

Bath full of life, page 27