Roy was the unlikely hero during the Lawrie Sancez reign. (©PAphotos)
by Mark White
, read by 178 people.
Wycombe Wanderers will hope the home tie against League Two strugglers Hereford or Lincoln City will see them progress past the FA Cup third round for the first time since the memorable run of 2000-01, where they reached the dizzy heights of the semi final stage under Lawrie Sanchez.
The famous cup run came at a time when the Chairboys were struggling for league form, and was a welcome distraction for fans of the Buckinghamshire club. The dream run saw Wycombe defeat Grimsby in a wintery replay to enter the fourth round for the one and only time in their history, this was followed by victory against Wolves, thanks to a late goal from on loan Chelsea striker Sam Parkin.
This sent Wycombe flying high into the fifth round, where they came from two goals down to force a replay at Selhurst Park against Wimbledon. The Blues went on to win the second tie after a dramatic 2-2 draw involving a red card, late penalty save and a last minute equaliser in extra time, before victory was clinched 8-7 in a penalty shootout.
A quarter-final trip to Leicester City was the draw for the League Two side, but injuries had hampered preparations as Sanchez declared the Cup run a priority, as he fielded weaker sides in their league matches. The gamble paid off as Wycombe came away 2-1 winners in another dramatic finish, as a trialist, Roy Essandoh, headed home the winner in the 93rd minute to place the Blues on cloud nine as they were draw against Premier League big guns Liverpool for the semi-final clash.
It is here, however, where the run came to an end as Wycombe finally bowed out of the competition 2-1 at Villa Park, after holding the Premier League outfit at bay until the 78th minute, when Emile Heskey converted Steven Gerrard’s cross. Minutes later Robbie Fowler curled in a second for Liverpool from a free kick to break hearts. But Wycombe’s battling cup spirit stayed to the end, as they pulled a late consolation goal back through Keith Ryan, but it was Liverpool who reached the Final.
Since then, however, Wycombe have only reached the third round on one other occasion prior to this season, and that came on the back of the semi-final run. This too ended in early defeat, but at the hands of Premiership new-boys Fulham in the third round replay.
Wycombe have fallen foul of the FA Cup ever since, with defeats in both the first and second rounds being the norm. The lowest point being a defeat to non-league Eastwood Town in the Second round in 2008, but this year sees hope. Wycombe are looking to build on a strong campaign thus far, but will welcome the added income and excitement the FA Cup can bring, as they reminisce and dream of another special run ten years on.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.