I'll be off in an hour to catch the train up to Wycombe and there's been a bit of a hitch with my match tickets so I'll need to get to the stadium pronto to sort that before relaxing with a pre-match beverage or two. Everyone's buzzing after Tuesday's semi and now, like countless others, I'm wondering where I can get my hands on a ticket for the final. I've been to fifteen matches this season but have no purchase record that I'm aware of as I nearly always get them via the London Branch. Anyway, I've a strong feeling that we'll continue our winning ways this afternoon. The confidence was flowing against Bristol and I see no reason why it shouldn't continue to do so. I don't have any news about Honeyman's injury and I'm not aware of any other problems so I imagine we'll be largely unchanged today. Charlton play Portsmouth today while Luton have a tricky away game at Plymouth so we can make ground if we win. Match prediction: 2-1 to us.
There were plenty of the faithful on my train upto Wycombe and as I got off there I bumped into a couple of the London Branch regulars. After meeting my old schoolmate we caught the special football bus to the ground and managed to resolve the ticket tension easily before slipping into the drinks marquee. I happened to meet the lad I was sitting next to at the semi-final meet-up on Tuesday and he introduced me to the guy standing next to him, who it turned out was Charlie Methven. ALS supremo Martyn was also nearby so it was a whole scene going, as they used to say. I'd noticed that the bar closed at 2.30 so we got in the queue again in anticipation of a top-up only to be greeted with the news that they'd sold out of beer. Bit of bad management there I'd say. After a brisk stroll to the home fans marquee across the car-park, which had plenty of beer left incidentally, we found that there was an enormous queue so we were left to admire the flight of several red kites above us as we finished off our bottles, within the designated zone of course.
Once into our seats the teams were announced and Catts, James and Honeyman were in the starting eleven. Well, after the highs of Tuesday evening our first-half performance was poor and we went in at the break one-down. Wycombe were very physical and they outmuscled and outfought us every step of the way so that neither McGeady and Morgan saw much of the ball at all. Also we persisted in hoofing long high balls into their half that were always destined to be headed away by their defenders. We lived very dangerously and managed to escape going behind when Bolton missed a very easy chance from a yard out before we mustered our sole first-half effort with McGeady shooting into the side-netting on the half-hour. Not long afterwards Leadbitter lost the ball in our half and a low cross came over to Samuel who slotted it home easily from close range. There'd been a lot of stoppages with Wycombe players hitting the deck with regularity so I wasn't surprised to see five minutes of stoppage-time announced. I could've done without it really as we never looked like scoring and I wanted us to get in the dressing-room for a good team-talk. A draw was looking like a good possible result as the whistle went.
When we kicked off again Matthews was on for James and we started with some vim at last culminating in a Flanagan header hitting the bar from a free-kick on our right. Meanwhile Catts had received a yellow card but they were going to be chucked around like confetti later on. That initial burst from us was something of a false dawn as we slipped back into lots of crap passing and losing out to Wycombe's greater tenacity. I wondered if Tuesday had taken too much out of our players as everyone was having what the lad behind me kept saying was a bad day at the office. Honeyman went down injured again and was replaced by Watmore on the hour with Gooch replacing Morgan eight minutes later. We still weren't doing much and Wycombe looked more like scoring as the cold wind blew around us and the home fans, backed up by their drummer, were making most of the noise. McLaughlin made a very good save to keep us in it with fifteen minutes to go and McGeady was booked somewhat harshly for a tackle. Very soon after that a player in our dugout, maybe Morgan, appeared to be booked for running onto the pitch and placing the ball for a free kick that the Wycombe players hadn't seemed capable of doing themselves. They were time-wasting shamelessly and also falling over and rolling around at the drop of a hat provoking chants of, “Soft as shite!” from our end. A lad behind me summed up the feelings of many was he was moved to utter, “Geroff yer fat twat!” at one miscreant. The game was badly disrupted by their attitude as well as by Flanagan going down from what looked like a kick in the head three minutes from time. He had to go off in the end and we were down to ten men. Referee Lee Swabey was coming in for lots of stick from our fans for his failure to get a grip on proceedings.
After that I joined in the roar of disapproval when only six minutes of stoppage-time were announced. Anyway in the ninety-fourth minute we equalized and bedlam erupted all around me. It came when Leadbitter had unleashed a piledriver that Allsop in goal could only parry and Watmore was on hand to drill it home. Next thing there was a tremendous kerfuffle around our dugout involving Honeyman, subs and players of both sides, stewards, match officials, old Uncle Tom Cobley and all. There was confusion around me about what had really happened but Honeyman was marched down the tunnel when the dust had settled and it didn't look like it was going to end there. The upshot was that both Honeyman and Tyson were red-carded. Anyway, there was still time for Bean to receive a second yellow and leave the pitch so we were both down to ten men. Nobody had any idea how much time was left and we were doing all the pressing but it finally ended 1-1. Several people in front of me had actually left around the eighty-eighth minute so they missed all the fun.
Well, we were crap but we still managed an away point and maintained our goal a game record.