In days of yore, a semi final draw between Slough Town and Wycombe would have been a clash of the non-league titans with capacity crowds expected at Loakes, Adams or Wexham Park. Times have dramatically changed for both clubs and as the 210 supporters arrived at Holloways Park all were keen to see the sides that the respective managers had chosen.
Wycombe, embroiled in a League One relegation dog fight, now have bigger fish to fry and a youthful team selection was to be expected. However, a number of the players had first team experience and from the way they started it was clear they were determined to impress manager Gary Waddock as they played neat, crisp passing football.
Steve Bateman also showed his intentions, naming a strong side, although the Rebels were without the ineligible Seeby and Duncan and the rested Edgewoth, Murphy and Perks. Harper was filling in at right back, with young Kyle Jeffrey appearing on the left hand side of the defence. Dean Clark and Robbie Kean lined up in central midfield.
Initially Slough were restricted to the occasional counter-attack but they were almost presented with the opening goal when Arnold in the Wanderers goal spilt a headed back pass from Hunt to the feet of Buchanan. He was fortunate to swiftly recover and smother the ball.
After 19 minutes, Slough were forced into a reshuffle with Bowden-Haase suffering a fractured cheekbone following a clash of heads. He was replaced by Sam Bateman who moved into midfield with Slough adopting a 3-5-2 formation. Bateman soon impressed with his tough tackling and work rate doing a fine job for his father’s side.
Slough immediately had their best spell of the match with Sinclair posing a threat on the right flack particularly following Mayer’s substitution for Wycombe. Sinclair was able to slide in Dean Clark whose shot was well blocked; the rebound fell to Sinclair who forced the keeper to tip the ball over the bar.
A succession of Dwain Clarke corners built the pressure but no clear chances were created, although a stretching Gary Sippetts was only able to head over the bar.
Having survived the pressure, Wycombe then had their best chance with the lively Harris having his shot cleared from the line by Jeffrey.
The second half continued in much the same way and despite Slough’s effort and endeavour the crucial goal would not arrive. The best chances fell to the likes of Sinclair and Clark whose shots from the edge of the area invariably found Arnold’s midriff.
As the half wore on, Wycombe gradually began to see more of the ball and began to dictate the tempo as you would expect from the professional, full time side.
Slough were living dangerously and in the last ten minutes chances started to fall with alarming regularity to Wycombe. O’Regan had a glorious chance to break the deadlock but was only able to fire high and wide. Harris nearly scored moments later as he touched a cross past Jackson only to see Jeffrey once again clear off the line.
As the clock ticked over and we moved into injury time, another cross from the left was powered goalwards and Jackson was forced into a fine save. Unfortunately for Slough the resulting corner was met by the towering head of Stewart who found himself free in the area to score the only goal of the game in injury time.
There is to be no cup final for Slough this year and now all efforts can focus on the fight for a play-off place.
Wycombe Wanderers Line up
Arnold, Hunt, Mayer (O'Regan), Montrose, Stewart, Cox, Belcher, Spence, Fitchett, Harris (Wallace), Federico. Subs not used: Ingram, Scowen, Smith.