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Wycombe Wanderers 0
Manchester City 0
Tuesday 19th September 1995
Football League Cup 2nd Round
1st Leg

Wanderers gave Premiership strugglers Manchester City and their underfire Manager Alan Ball a fright after going close to gaining a 1st Leg advantage in a Football League Cup Second Round tie at Adams Park. Ball's side left High Wycombe with a 0-0 draw having had just one shot on target throughout the ninety minutes, while Alan Smith's side were left debating whether Miquel Desouza's headed effort in the second should have stood.

Wycombe had earned the right to take on City following an aggregate win over Leyton Orient in the previous round. Team news saw Steve Brown return to the midfield in place of Wimbledon loanee Stewart Castledine, while new signing John Williams was given his home debut having signed from Coventry City the previous week for £150,000 and debuted in Wanderers' 1-1 draw at Stockport County the previous Saturday.

Reporting for the Bucks Free Press from Adams Park, Claire Nash wrote: Quite frankly, Wycombe Wanderers must be kicking themselves for not making life more uncomfortable for Manchester City at Adams Park on Tuesday night. They were unlucky not to have secured a one-goal lead to take up to Maine Road for the second leg of this Coca-Cola Cup second round on Wednesday, October 4.

But on a night when the world weighed heavily on city boss Alan Ball’s ever-sagging shoulders, Wycombe know that they should have twisted the knife. City’s supposedly-Premiership players put up a performance which was anything but. A bizarre theory was proffered by a City clubcall reporter who repeatedly told the folks back home in Manchester during his broadcast that the grass at Adams Park was a lot shorter than their players are used to. A desperate explanation for a desperate side.

Wycombe, meanwhile, gave as enthusiastic a display as they have in their better League showings so far this season. But it wasn’t the best we’ve seen from Blues this term, even taking into account the level of the opposition. There were a handful of ‘if onlys’, which may become the most telling incidents of both legs for either side.

Wycombe would have had City on the rack if they were given the penalty they deserved after 14 minutes. Miquel Desouza’s dangerous surge into the box was curtailed when Richard Edghill tripped him. But referee Mick Pierce wasn’t interested and added insult to injury by booking the incredulous striker for diving.

Then there was the controversial disallowed goal in the second half. Desouza thought he had scored after heading in a high ball which he jumped for with City goalkeeper Eike Immel. But Pierce, in agreement with his linesman, said it didn’t count because the Wycombe striker knocked it out of Immel’s hands. Desouza maintained afterwards that the goalkeeper punched his head rather than the ball. Returnee Steve Brown, back in Blues’ fold after a three-match suspension, had possibly the most to regret, with a situation purely in his own hands, squandering a chance after being put clear by John Williams on 78 minutes. Immel saved the low shot with his feet, however.

Overall, though, Wanderers won a moral victory by having the nerve and verve to take things on. Such spirit was underlined by recent £100,000 signing from Aston Villa David Farrell. The midfielder tormented Edghill with scything runs on the left wing and accurate crosses which were so good that they left his Wycombe team-mates for dead as well as City’s defence.

Desouza, too, caused problems for the experienced Keith Curie and Kit Symons who were, if anything, among City’s better performers on the night. At the other end City only managed two shots on goal. The first by Uwe Rosler, City’s German wunderbloke of last season, was safely dealt with by Paul Hyde towards the end of the first half, while the second by substitute Nicky Summerbee was wide of the target after 85 minutes. The second attempt was greeted by exaggerated roars of appreciation by City’s 1,200-strong contingent behind the goal who proceeded to barrack Ball with chants of ‘We’ve had a shot.’ Wycombe’s 6,200-pius fans underlined the point too.

Wycombe: Hyde, Rowbotham, Hardyman, Howard, Crossley, Patterson, Carroll, Brown, Desouza, Williams, Farrell - subs not used: McGavin, McGorry, Soloman
Scorers: none
Bookings: Desouza 14 (ungentlemanly conduct)
Manchester City: lmmel, Edghill, Symons, Curie, Phelan, Kinkladze (sub 62 Summerbee), Quinn, Brightwell, Beagrie, Lomas, Roster - subs not used: Brown, Margetson
Scorers: none
Bookings: Brightwell 20 (foul), Edghill 25 (foul)
Referee: Mr M Pierce (Portsmouth) Attendance: 7,443

Speaking after the game Manager Alan Smith said: "It was an injustice we didn’t get anything out of the game. But it showed we will be there or thereabouts in the second leg. I’m disappointed we didn’t win but I was pleased with our performance."

Meanwhile, City boss Alan Ball was careful with his words: "We got through something tonight...just". Asked where the difficulty lay for City, who are still searching for their first win of the season, he commented: "I have got to be careful because whatever I say, you are going to make a story out of it, so I’m going to say nowt."

Next game - Wycombe v Wrexham - Saturday 23rd September 1995
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