Guppy Has The Goalden Shot

| League
Att: 3703
Slough Town
0 - 1
Wycombe Wanderers
Guppy (58)
Mark Hill
Slough's injury crisis ultimately cost them the points in this Boxing Day Conference derby against Wycombe — but it took a spectacular strike from Steve Guppy to separate the sides. Injuries are beginning to drag on for the Rebels with yet again Gary Donnellan, Phil Stacey, and Paul McKinnon all vital absentees and Francis Joseph joining the list before the game and Mark Hill during.

The Rebels drafted in Tony Lynch from Barnet on loan, the pacy forward having spent the last few weeks with Basingtoke. But it failed to add the right ingredient for the Rebels who lacked a genuine striker and the edge in the box. Paul McKinnon's absence is becoming more pronounced as lough move through Christmas and look to catch up with their games in hand.

What resulted wasn't a crash, bang local derby that supporters of both clubs have become used to, but a tight affair with few chances arising. The first half belonged to Slough as second placed Wycombe were never given time to dominate. Steve Thompson had the first chance when he forced a good low save out of Paul Hyde from a free kick on the edge of the box.

In the first 15 minutes it was the Rebels that created the chances but just couldn't finish. Mark Mallinson found himself clean through after 13 minutes and he squared to the onrushing Neal Stanley but the chance was wasted with Stanley missing the ball and only able to prod out a foot.

The Rebels were making the play during the first period though and they found good width moving forward and did it all but break down the Blues' defence. Wycombe for their part created nothing in the first 15 minutes and when they did go forward they found the Slough defence strong enough with Mark Hill the outstanding player on the day and a rock in the Rebels' rearguard.

The visitors were giving little away and as Thompson often found himself on the ball, he was quickly bundled of it in one form or another and the Blues were giving no quarter. They finally had their first chance when Dave Carroll's free kick was pushed wide by Trevor Bunting.

But Slough remained firmly in control and passed well, using width and pace, but each time the move broke down against the solid Wycombe defence. Lynch showed pace and skill and some delightful touches but he never filled an out and out forward's role and the Slough dominance was wasted.

Mallinson almost found himself on the score sheet at the wrong end after hooking the ball over Bunting, but the half finished with Wycombe finding more space and looking more threatening.

The second half was to be a different affair. It was the Wanderers that came out buzzing and they were a yard faster all round and their movement forward was the more dangerous of the two. In a game where the final ball into the box was lacking in accuracy, Slough suddenly found themselves doing the defending.

Mallinson's good late challenge denied Guppy who was clean through but the Wanderers took the lead soon after with Guppy's fine strike. It was going to take something special to separate the sides and the Wycombe winger produced it on 58 minutes.

Hill made a good challenge to deny top marksman Mark West but the ball ran loose to Guppy and he thundered a bullet like shot past Bunting and into the far corner from a difficult angle. Finally there was some noise from the crowd, so silent at both ends for 3,703 packed into a local derby.

Slough began to lose grip and the visitors got on top and found more room to push forward from the centre of midfield. Guppy had another spectacular effort from a free kick which thumped off the bar and out.

With 15 minutes remaining Hill was replaced by Anthony Dell after straining his groin but Dell was to see little of the ball in midfield. With Colin Fielder dropping into the back four the Wanderers found even more space while Slough were having trouble going forward.

Steve Scott found himself unable to add pace and width on the right and was eventually replaced by Eammon O'Connor as the Rebels looked to get back into the game. Slough were beginning to rock slightly as Wycombe pushed forward but held out and had their best spell of the half in the dying minutes.

They came close to what would have been a deserved point with six minutes remaining when Stanley saw his header tipped wide by the diving Paul Hyde.

"It was always going to be a hard game — we didn't expect any different to that — and so it proved," Wycombe boss Martin O'Neill said.

Wycombe Wanderers Line up

Hyde, Cousins, Stapleton, Crossley, Creaser, Smith, Hutchinson, Carroll, West, Scott, Guppy. Subs unused: Cooper, Deakin

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