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Wycombe Wanderers 0
Tuesday 7th November 1995
Wanderers suffered a humiliating 5-0 defeat at Walsall in the AutoWindscreens Shield, with the players also suffering the punishment of being forced by Manager Alan Smith to spend the half-time break on the pitch.
Wycombe had gone into the tie at The Bescot Stadium on the back of a 13 match unbeaten run in Division Two, the latest result coming in a 2-1 victory at Swansea the previous Saturday. Opponents Walsall were already through to the next round, while even a 2-0 defeat or less for Wanderers would have seen Alan Smith's side through in the mini-group qualifier. However, it all started to go wrong on 13 minutes when Kyle Lightbourne scored the first of a nine minute hat-trick.
Wanderers best chance of the match came on the half-hour mark when Jason Rowbotham smashed a 25 yard effort against the cross-bar but any thoughts of making a significant impact on the scoreline where scuppered a minute later when Lightbourne added his and Walsall's fourth. The half-time antics did little to change the nature of the tie, with Adrian Viveash making it 5-0 just before the hour mark.
There were no further goals to witness for the 189 Wycombe fans who had travelled up for the tie and to cap a miserable evening, rumours were confirmed after the game that long standing goalkeeper Paul Hyde was in a contract dispute with Manager Alan Smith.
Reporting for the Bucks Free Press, Sharon Walter wrote: 'Wycombe Wanderers goal keeper Paul Hyde is demanding a transfer, following a dispute over his contract. To add to Wanderers woe, the side crashed out of the Auto Windscreen Shield on Tuesday night following a 5-0 defeat at Walsall, in what was truly a performance of sloppy and uncommitted football.
The request gives Smith an added problem that he could do without at the moment as the Blues attempt to come to terms with Tuesday’s defeat and prepare themselves for Monday’s FA Cup match with Third Division Gillingham. Wanderers fans, meanwhile, who have complained over recent weeks at what many see as lacklustre, but winning, displays of football would have been truly appalled by Tuesday’s game. Wycombe managed to produce possibly their worse display of football for a very long time. Perhaps they were reminding the fans of what really bad football looks like. In fact, Smith was so disgusted by the display that he banished his players from the cosy changing room at half-time, forcing them to stand out on the pitch for more than ten minutes until their opponents came back on to finish the job off.
Walsall, who were playing without their first-choice back four because of injury, were already 3-0 ahead after 21 minutes thanks to a Wycombe display that could only be described as a comedy of errors.
The home side’s first goal was perhaps the worse, and an awful sign of things to come. In a horrendous defensive mix up, Jason Cousins headed the ball over his own goalkeeper’s head. Both Cousins and Hyde could only watch, and later exchange harsh words, as Kyle Lightbourne rounded them both, and delicately dribbled the ball over the line. But Wycombe had not been without their chances.
Simon Garner had managed an attempt on goal after just three minutes, when John Williams put in a cross following a quick run. But the chances for Blues quickly dried up after Walsall’s first goal, which got Kyle Lightbourne into his stride. Just five minutes after the first, he added another, which he owed again to poor defence. Picking up the ball just outside the area he shook off the entire Wycombe defence for a one-on-one with Hyde, which he won.
Wycombe could have gone to this game and lost by two goals, and still qualified for the next round of the Auto Windscreen Shield. It quickly became clear they were not even going to manage that. By the 21st minute, Lightbourne had scored his hat-trick. The third came after he had waited for the ball to bounce the wrong way for Mickey Bell, and then outpaced him to the goal before beating Hyde. Ten minutes [later], it seemed just for good measure, he added his fourth, although this was slightly more respectable as far as Wycombe were concerned. Kevin Wilson did well to keep the ball in play down the nearside, before crossing to Lightbourne, who finished the job off. He is the first [Walsall] player for 20 years to score four in one match.
As, no doubt, Walsall celebrated their lead at half time in the privacy of their dressing room, Wycombe discussed their tactics for the second half for all the world to see in the centre circle, after Alan Smith sent them back out early. Simon Garner was substituted and replaced by Gary Patterson, while John Williams moved to the centre to support Miquel Desouza. In the first minute of the second half, the change looked like it may have paid off with Williams’ header being saved on the line, by the quick reflexes of James Walker.
The revival was short-lived though, Walsall were now playing with all the nerve of a team who knew they had no worries to reach the second round of this competition. Wycombe, on the other hand, seemed to have lost interest and at times Walsall’s one-touch football made them look particularly inferior. All the play was going Walsall’s way and in the 59th minute they increased their lead to 5-0 when Adrian Viveash headed home a corner.
Speaking after the game Manager Alan Smith has little to say on his team's performance against Walsall: "They know how I feel. There is not much point in saying any more."
However, commenting on Paul Hyde's tranfer request, he added: "My feeling is that I don’t want to lose players, but I don’t want players that are not happy here. I want to get out of this division and I want people committed to playing for Wycombe Wanderers. My concern is winning games and I want players here that will do that." Hyde had joined Wanderers under Martin O'Neill from Hayes for £15,000 in July 1991 and had been virtually ever-present in the side. His current contract ran until the end of the 1995/96 season and it transpired that Hyde wanted to renegotiate the contract before the end of the season while Smith wanted to wait.
Meanwhile, Wanderers next game would be the FA Cup meeting with Gillingham the following Monday at Adams Park - a tie that had been chosen for live coverage by Sky. Commenting on the tie, Smith said: "The team will want to show people what we can do here. We are looking forward to it. We are certainly up for it, we could certainly do very well in this competition.". Ticket prices for the tie had been set at Terraces: Adults £7, Seniors and U16's £4.50; Seats: Adults £10, Seniors and U16's £5.
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