Relaxed Adams encouraged by power of Tyson

Northampton Town 1 - Wycombe Wanderers 1
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The Independent Football

Tony Adams sighed and shook his head, saying: "That late night killed us. We didn't get in until three in the morning." Once, his words might have been a hazy recollection of a bender with those members of the Arsenal and England sides who shared his refuelling habits, if not his addiction to alcohol.

Tony Adams sighed and shook his head, saying: "That late night killed us. We didn't get in until three in the morning." Once, his words might have been a hazy recollection of a bender with those members of the Arsenal and England sides who shared his refuelling habits, if not his addiction to alcohol.

In fact, Adams was reflecting on nothing more sinister than the weariness of his Wycombe Wanderers team during the second half of an absorbing League Two tussle with Northampton Town. It was, he suggested in what must be the softest voice in football, the result of a long haul back from the midweek match at Chester.

Once he had tackled his demons, the unfulfilled hell-raiser of Highbury discovered a taste for an early night with a good book. Whether Adams also has an aptitude for management remains to be seen, but after last season's brutal initiation, with Wycombe finishing bottom of the old Second Division, there is scant evidence of a hangover.

Coming on the back of two opening victories, this encounter was arguably the first major test of the Buckinghamshire club's promotion credentials. Northampton, play-off semi-finalists last spring, had also taken maximum points under the management of Colin Calderwood.

Calderwood is steeped in the Tottenham way - a nebulous concept, albeit one often invoked by staff and supporters - following spells at White Hart Lane as a player and a coach. His battle of wits with Adams therefore had the feel of a proxy confrontation between Spurs and Arsenal. The pair tangled in north London derbies, as well as in Euro 96, when England beat Scotland and the new, so far non-playing player-coach, to Boston United scored one of the great Wembley goals.

Paul Gascoigne's reunion with Adams promises to be a more poignant occasion than Saturday's encounter at Sixfields. A business-like draw meant that only three of the 72 Football League clubs - Colchester, Luton and Macclesfield - boast a 100 per cent record after the first week. But while the outcome seemed more satisfactory for Wycombe, both managers found cause for concern as well as encouragement

Wycombe's initial ascendancy was rewarded when Nathan Tyson - Adams' £100,000 steal from Reading, who looks and plays like a basement-section Thierry Henry - squared for Ian Stonebridge to side-foot home. Northampton, having failed to muster a single shot in the first half, equalised less than a minute into the second after Scott McGleish sent Marc Richards clear.

Near the hour, Tyson was haring away from Fred Murray when the Northampton man cynically cut him down. Calderwood claimed the video showed Murray was not the last defender and was too far from goal to have been denied a clear scoring opportunity. Yet if ever a red card was morally justified, this was it.

Adams no doubt expected the 10 men to be pressed back in the sticky heat. Perversely, the opposite happened, Northampton enjoying their best spell with Richards hitting the bar and Eric Sabin tantalisingly close to finding a winner.

Surely Adams would have settled for a point beforehand? "I'm never happy with a point," he said, proceeding to talk more like George Graham than Arsène Wenger. "First half, we were excellent; solid, compact and we picked them off with the goal. The second half was too gung-ho for me, back and forth with chances at either end. That's great for the public, but not for managers."

Adams had sat serenely in the dug-out. Calderwood, himself a studious character away from the fray, barked instructions and paced around the technical area in the manner of a Megson or O'Neill.

According to Richards, the Scot also "had a pop at the couple of the lads at half-time", with the result that they "came out raring". Certainly, Northampton's stamina and spirit cheered their manager, who none the less admitted that Murray's mishap stemmed from poor organisation.

Tyson's pace would have impressed any watching scout, as would the way that the teenage defender, Luke Chambers, stayed with him more often than not. Adams hoped Premiership clubs would look in the lower divisions "now that teams like Yeovil, Crewe and ourselves are trying to get the ball down and play".

He added: "There's not many of us doing it, although I did hear John Deehan [Calderwood's assistant] urging them to pass and move. If we do that, we'll create good players who can go into the higher leagues. At the moment, the top clubs are just looking to Europe, which is sad."

Talking of transfers, what was the extent of the interest in Tyson? "All offers considered, because I need a new conservatory," said Adams, anything but the tormented, obsessive manager still replaying the match in his mind. "I've heard nothing at all, but he can go. I'll swap him for Patrick Vieira."

Goals: Stonebridge (42) 0-1; Richards (46) 1-1.

Northampton Town: (3-4-3): Harper; Chambers, Willmott, Murray; Low, Amoo, Cozic, Galbraith (Jaszczun, 81); Sabin, McGleish (Bojic, 62), Richards (Morison, 76). Substitutes not used: Bunn (gk), Youngs.

Wycombe Wanderers: (4-4-2): Talia; Johnson, Nethercott (Uhlenbeek, 63), Williamson, Silk; Senda, Ryan (Martin, 78), Burnell, Easton; Stonebridge, Tyson (Ahmed, 90). Substitutes not used: Williams (gk), Dixon.

Referee: C Boyeson (East Yorkshire).

Sent off: Northampton: Murray (59).

Man of the match: Tyson.

Attendance: 6,049.

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