Football / Non-League Notebook: Wycombe intent on avoiding frustration

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The Independent Online
IN THE space of two weeks, Wycombe Wanderers have emerged from the chasing pack and established a nine-point lead at the top of the GM Vauxhall Conference, apparently justifying their pre-season tag as the bookies' favourites.

Tuesday's 5-1 home win over Yeovil was Wycombe's sixth successive victory, and was watched by a crowd of 3,769 - their fifth gate of over 3,000 this term. Wanderers have scored 24 goals in eight matches; Bromsgrove Rovers, tomorrow's visitors to Adams Park, are unlikely to travel south in a confident mood.

The ambitious Buckinghamshire club are determined to finish one place higher than last season. Wycombe gained 94 points in '91-92 and won more games than any other side, but still finished behind Colchester United on goal difference and had to watch the Essex team claim the Football League place they desired so much.

'We were all genuinely worried at the start of the season,' Martin O'Neill, the former Northern Ireland and Nottingham Forest midfielder who is in his third year as Wycombe's manager, said this week. 'The thought of having to do all that again was excruciating.'

The demise of two Football League clubs, Aldershot and then Maidstone United, also had side-effects on Wycombe. 'We were led to believe that a place for us in the League was a possibility,' O'Neill said, 'so missing out in more than one way was demoralising.'

Wycombe have achieved their impressive start without any new faces, as O'Neill relies on last season's squad. 'The same team can do it again, I hope,' he said. However, he is looking to sign one or two 'quality players' to improve his squad. One advantage the manager has is that the goals have been shared around, and his side do not rely on one man to find the net: Keith Scott, Steve Thompson and the experienced Kim Casey have shared 15 of Wycombe's tally so far.

Hyde United must be sick of the sight of their HFS Loans League Premier Division rivals, Accrington Stanley, who won 6-2 in the league at Hyde last week and returned to the Tameside Stadium for an FA Cup tie last Saturday - and won 5-1. Stanley's reward in the Cup is a second qualifying round tie tomorrow week at home to Bradford Park Avenue, an evocative encounter which brings back memories of the old Third Division North.