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Wycombe Wanderers 1
Tuesday 10th October 1995
Auto-Windscreens Shield 1st Rnd
Terry Howard scored his first Wanderers goal as Alan Smith's side came from behind to register a 1-1 draw in a Auto-Windscreens Shield 1st Round group match at home to Fulham. Basement side Fulham had taken the lead in the 5th minute through Mike Conway but Howard headed home the equaliser on 24 minutes.
The stalemate against The Cottagers was Wanderers' 7th draw in nine games and came with a hint of disappointment following the previous Saturday's encouraging display in the 1-1 draw at Burnley. It came after Manager Alan Smith had stuck with the same starting XI that had drawn at Turf Moor but there were some harsh words from the Wycombe Manager after the game. The result also left Wycombe needing a positive result in their other group match, away to Walsall on 7th November 1995, to progress to the 2nd round
Reporting for the Bucks Free Press from Adams Park, Claire Nash wrote:
'Wycombe Wanderers striker Steve McGavin believes goals have dried up because Blues are too robotic. McGavin, who has not scored since an opening day penalty, and striker partner Desouza, who has only scored once in nine games, are targets of criticism from both manager Alan Smith and supporters for their failure to find the net more often.
McGavin, Wycombe’s second most expensive signing at Ł140,000, said after Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Fulham that players are failing to take the bull by the horns. “We don’t seem to be creating chances. We seem so robotic it’s unbelievable. We have got to express ourselves more, but no one seems to want to take responsibility. Someone has to be big enough to say give me the ball, I’m going to make it happen," he said.
The former Colchester and Birmingham star’s comments under line Blues’ lack of confidence which is inhibiting efforts to cultivate a healthy consistency. The latest result enhances Wycombe’s reputation as draw specialists which has helped establish a solid platform on which to build in Division Two. But too often recently Blues have followed an impressive performance such as last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Burnley with a disappointing one like Tuesday night’s Auto Windscreens Shield first- round encounter.
It was a lacklustre display which at first glance, and with subsequent post-match reactions being bleak, will have done little to encourage Blues. McGavin was quite prepared to put his hands up and concede that he and Desouza are at fault. “It’s down to me and Mig. The gaffer has made it painfully obvious it’s down to us and we have got to sort it out,” he said.
It was Wycombe’s skipper Terry Howard, a stalwart in central defence since being recalled a month into the new season, who stood up to be counted up front when he headed in Wycombe’s reply to Fulham’s early opener. The visitors, who have not yet won away in Division Three this term and were severely weakened by injuries to key players, scored against the run of play on five minutes.
McGavin failed to take advantage of two chances in the opening moments. The first was lobbed over goalkeeper Lee Harrison while the second was fired over, both efforts coming from David Farrell crosses. Then Fulham forced a corner at the other end when Paul Hyde turned former Wanderer Nick Cusack’s overhead kick round the post. Mike Conroy raced in unmarked to fire home from Gary Brazil’s cross which Cusack flicked on.
Wycombe’s goal, like Fulham’s came from a set-piece, Howard heading in Dave Carroll’s flicked- on cross on 24 minutes. The next major sign of life came from John Williams who fired narrowly over from 35 yards. Wycombe’s best chance of snatching a winner came and went after Steve Brown’s shot back in from a punched-out clearance rebounded off the right-hand upright.
The game literally nearly exploded on 80 minutes when Conroy jumped in late on Hyde who was on the ground after smothering Cusack’s shot at his second bite. The Blues goalkeeper flared up at the Fulham striker who had gone in with two feet. Players from both sides rushed in to quell proceedings before referee Andy D’Urso gave the two a stern talking to. The game then staggered to its seemingly inevitable conclusion.
Speaking after the game Manager Alan Smith believed that Wanderers’ disappointing home form may have been caused by players travelling in from outside the area to Adams Park. He was frustrated at Wycombe’s seemingly unerring tendency to draw games they should win. They 1-1 draw with Smith’s home club Fulham was their seventh draw in nine games. He said: "At home we are lackadaisical. I think living too far from the ground may be tiring some of the players out. I think either a) they should move or b) I would even consider putting them up in a hotel for them to get the right mental attitude that we are currently not getting for home games "
The Wycombe boss went on to suggest that staying overnight at a hotel before an away game has helped sharpen the players' concentration. The player travelling the furthest was Gary Patterson who lived near Leicester. John Williams, David Farrell, Tony Hemmings, and Steve McGavin travelled in from the Midlands. A West London contigent consisted of Paul Hyde, Dave Carroll, Jason Cousins and Terry Evans, while Terry Howard and Miquel Desouza drove in from East London. Matt Crossley was based in Basingstoke while Mickey Bell and Steve Brown lived near their former club Northampton. On the pitch, meanwhile, Smith blasted strikers Miquel Desouza and Steve McGavin after their display against Fulham: “The front players have got to hold the ball up. Some of Fulham’s best attacks came from our front two. The players have got to give a lot more thought to their game."
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