Knox pierces darkness to put lights out on Wycombe

Eastwood Town 2 Wycombe Wanderers 0
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The Independent Football

This was a classic upset of the kind that makes the FA Cup the stuff of romance and nightmare as Eastwood Town, of the Unibond League, knocked out Wycombe, the unbeaten leaders of League Two. With their poorly-lit, fog-shrouded ground almost in darkness at the end, they prevailed deservedly to take a place in the third round draw.

Ahead through Lindon Meikle's fine goal after 34 minutes, Eastwood were under the cosh for much of the second half as Wycombe sought an equaliser but broke away to score a second close to the end through the substitute, Peter Knox, who had been on the field barely a minute. In the birthplace of D H Lawrence, it made for an epic tale.

"It is like being in a dream and we will be having one big party until the third round draw is made," Paul Cox, the Eastwood manager, said. "But I don't think it was a fluke. We try to play good football and everyone put in a good shift."

In many ways, it was a romance that would become Wycombe's nightmare from the moment Peter Taylor's team stepped off their coach but the former England under-21 coach had no excuses. "Over the 90 minutes Eastwood just about edged it," he said.

Eastwood's ground, eight miles north west of Nottingham, slopes severely in several directions and the chill November mist swirling around its primitive floodlights made it eerily atmospheric. Taylor remembered his own biggest Cup embarrassment, ironically inflicted by Wycombe, then also of League Two, on Premier League Leicester in the 2001 quarter-finals, but this was much different.

They were the perfect circumstances for Eastwood, themselves handily poised to push for promotion to Conference North after one defeat in 16 matches and already further into the FA Cup than ever before. Full of energy as they kicked downhill in the first half, Eastwood posed threats aplenty with the dynamic Anton Foster their man of the match in midfield.

But it was the zippy, 20-year-old winger, Meikle, who put Eastwood ahead with a peach of a goal. Nottingham-born, Meikle hopes, after trials with Newcastle and Nottingham Forest, for an exciting future, although he already has a knack for grabbing the limelight. Scorer of the winning goal against Brackley in the first round, Meikle received the ball from Foster on the right, took a step inside, then beat Scott Shearer's dive with a low drive that curled inside the far post.

Battling up the slope in the second half, the worry for Cox was that his players' stamina would fail. They needed 19-year-old Shane Redmond, on loan from Forest, to perform some heroics in goal as Lewis Spence and substitute Tommy Doherty attacked the Eastwood goal, and he had Russell Cooke to thank for heading the ball over the bar on one occasion when he was beaten.

But when Andy Todd broke clear on the left in the 89th-minute his pass found Knox, a prison officer, who went round Shearer to clinch the biggest day in Eastwood's 55-year history.

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