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Brighton & Hove Albion 1
Wycombe Wanderers 2
Tuesday 29th August 1995
Football League Division Two

Wanderers recorded their first League win of the 1995/96 campaign following a 2-1 midweek victory at Brighton & Hove Albion. However, it came after Alan Smith's side came from a goal down conceeded in the 5th minute when former Barnet striker Gary Bull (on loan from Nottingham Foerst) netted. Miquel Desouza levelled for Wycombe just before the half-hour mark and the same player scored the winner with twenty minutes remaining in the second-half to get Wycombe's season up and running.

There was joy too as Wanderers managed to keep eleven players on the pitch for the full 90 minutes, having seen five red cards delivered in their opening five games of the season - the most recent a straight red-card for Steve Brown in the previous weekend's home defeat to Bournemouth.

Reporting for the Bucks Free Press, Claire Nash wrote: 'What a difference 11 men can make. Wycombe Wanderers kept all their players on the pitch and won their first League match of the season at Brighton on Tuesday night. A full complement of players at the end of 90 minutes meant a full three points. It was as simple as that — bar the good fortune of having a master finisher in Miquel Desouza who scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season. After the red menace of the past few weeks, the most encouraging aspect of the performance was no sendings off, not even a booking.

Although encouraged by a result which has given Wycombe a platform to build on, [Alan] Smith was well aware that the repercussions of five men sent off in five games will have a lasting effect. Suspensions will hinder the selection of a settled side over the next few weeks. “We still have a price to pay unfortunately. That’s the sad thing about it.”

Some of the players were left in little doubt that they had to pay a price for letting the side down, with Steve Brown stripped of the captaincy which was bestowed on Blues’ popular veteran Simon Garner for Tuesday’s game. Winger Mickey Bell was relegated to the substitutes’ bench, with teenager Anthony Clark earning a start up front after scoring a hat-trick for the reserves in last week’s 5-0 win over Crawley.

This time Blues responded in a constructive way to the questions being asked of them by Smith, the fans and indeed obviously by themselves. The desire was typified by Dave Carroll who put in a tigerish display in the centre of midfield alongside Brown, who went some way to redeeming himself with a superb second half. Garner also led by example as did Terry Howard in the centre of Wycombe’s defence. Howard held his hands up to being at fault for Brighton’s fifth-minute goal by Gary Bull, but he went on to give the most assertive performance of the season so far by a member of Blues’ back four.

The defence, and the team generally, has sorely missed the influence of club captain Terry Evans, but their slightly improved grip on proceedings kept the pressure off the midfield who were able give Desouza the service he deserved up front. The striker’s goalscoring prowess has been one of few saving graces during the last three weeks. Two goals, one blessed with brilliance, stole the initiative from Brighton who lacked someone with such a kilter instinct.

The early goal by Bull, Blues’ adversary of old from his days at Barnet, sounded a loud warning bell. The striker, on loan from Nottingham Forest, raced in to fire home a cross which Peter Smith was able to deliver after a poor tackle from Howard failed to stop his progress on the right flank. Brighton dominated a first half in which Junior McDougald ran Jason Soloman, in an unfamiliar position but under as much pressure as ever, absolutely ragged on the left wing.

Desouza’s equaliser from Hardyman’s cross inspired Blues before half time, but Brighton remained dangerous on the break, Paul Hyde denying Kevin McGarrigle’s effort on 33 minutes. Blues almost took the lead on a counter attack, however, when Desouza had a shot just go wide after Bull had faltered at the other end on 59 minutes.

Brighton would most certainly have been a sterner prospect had their finishing not been so suspect. There was no question about Desouza’s abilities in that department, however, when he ran onto Brown’s long ball and weaved past two players before knocking the ball into the bottom right-hand corner on 71 minutes.

Carroll and Brown had more room to manoeuvre in midfield when Brighton’s midfield dynamo Dean Wilkins was substituted moments later. Wycombe then began to revel in the passing style which Smith has been trying to instil. Bell, who came on at half time, did his regular selection chances a power of good. The defence held up to Brighton’s late onslaught, with Foran and Soloman salvaging a little pride after a torrid month of criticism.'
Wycombe: Hyde, Howard, Hardyman, Soloman, Foran, Brown, Carroll, Castledine, Desouza, Garner (sub 80 McGavin), Clark (sub 45 Bell)
Scorers: Desouza 29, 71
Bookings: none
Brighton: Rust, Smith, Chapman, Wilkins (sub 75 Andrews), Tuck, McCarthy, Storer, McGarrigle, Bull, Byrne (sub 75 Minton), McDougald - sub not used: Myall
Scorers: Bull 5
Bookings: Andrews 82 (foul)
Referee: Mr P Taylor (Cheshunt) Attendance: 5,360 (away 579)

Speaking after the game Manager Alan Smith said: “It’s no coincidence our first win came when we had 11 players on the pitch. It was a disciplined performance. Up until now we have not given ourselves a chance by only playing with ten men,” He added: “The players don’t like giving up their Sundays. I know their wives aren’t too pleased about it. I think that basically the message had hit home.”

Next game - Bradford v Wycombe - Saturday 2nd September 1995
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