Football / Non-League Notebook: O'Neill prepares Wycombe for test of strength

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The Independent Online
WYCOMBE WANDERERS took a significant step towards securing the GM Vauxhall Conference title with victories over Slough Town, their nearest challengers, on Tuesday, and third-placed Dagenham and Redbridge last night, but Martin O'Neill, the Wycombe manager, knows that his side's hardest month of the season is about to begin.

Wycombe must play seven league games during April - plus a two-leg FA Trophy semi-final against Sutton United and the Drinkwise Cup final (the GMVC's league cup, also two legs) against Northwich Victoria. 'That's asking an awful lot of part-time players,' O'Neill said.

He has some problems to deal with: awaiting suspensions are his captain, Andy Kerr, sent off for kicking Slough's Andy Sayer on Tuesday, and Simon Stapleton, who was shown the red card in a 3-0 defeat at Yeovil last week. Stapleton may be out for the season anyway, after breaking his foot against Slough, while Keith Scott, their top scorer, suffered an ankle injury soon after scoring Tuesday's first-half winner.

To plug the gaps, O'Neill yesterday signed Trevor Aylott, 35, on loan for the rest of the season from Gillingham. Last week he paid Telford pounds 12,000 for another striker, Tim Langford, and brought back Anton Vircavs, a regular in the Wycombe defence a decade ago, after his release by Cheltenham Town.

The visit of second-placed Slough attracted a full house of 7,320 to Adams Park. Slough were unlucky not to gain some reward for their second-half pressure. 'We played well, but we needed a bit more quality around the box,' David Kemp, their manager, said. 'There are a lot of points to play for, though, and we've still got to play Wycombe at our place (on 13 April).'

Last night Paul Cavell gave Dagenham a half-time lead but two goals in two minutes from their substitute, Mark West, gave Wycombe another crucial win. With a game in hand, they lead Slough by 10 points - a margin they may need with their run-in.