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Swindon Town 0
Wycombe Wanderers 0
Tuesday 26th December 1995
Football League Division Two
Wycombe's first ever first to the County Ground, to take on Swindon Town, ended goalless thanks to poor finishing from both sides. Wycombe's best chance, and only shot on target, came in the dying minutes when Steve Brown, making his comeback following suspension, forced Fraser Digby to parry his shot wide. Swindon's second biggest League gate of the season, 12,976, had earlier seen two teams struggle to keep their feet in bitterly cold and slippery conditions.
Wycombe, without Jason Cousins through suspension, had Steve McGavin back in the starting line-up, with Desouza demoted to the subs bench along with Garner and Soloman. Out of form striker John Williams was dropped again by Manager Alan Smith. Ben Roberts continued his loan spell in goal and looked very comfortable in dealing with a number of Swindon crosses. Garry Blissett also extended his loan appearances with a solid display up front. Wycombe's best efforts all came in the second half - Terry Evans heading wide a Carroll cross, Mickey Bell shooting wide from a breakaway chance, before Brown just failed to grab all three points.
Swindon, managed by former Liverpool midfielder Steve McMahon, saw ex-Wanderer Ty Gooden come on as a late substitute. Gooden, signed by Martin O'Neill at Wycombe in 1992, was released on a free in the summer of 1993 after failing to feature in O'Neill's plans. In November 1993 the then 21 year old was given a trial by John Gorman at Swindon around the same time that Keith Scott moved to the County Ground in a £300.000 deal. Later that season he signed a two-year deal with The Robins.
Reporting for the Bucks Free Press, Claire Nash wrote: 'Steve Brown literally played like a man who had just got out of prison when he returned from a three-match suspension against highfliers Swindon Town on Boxing Day. The Wycombe Wanderers midfielder, forced to watch from the sidelines for a month after accumulating too many disciplinary points, gave an inspired performance amid a sturdy all-round Blues display which stopped Steve McMahon’s Division Two big guns in their tracks at the County Ground.
“To be honest with you, my suspension seemed like a prison sentence,” said Brown afterwards. “It’s almost been four weeks which is a long time to be out. It’s been a pleasure to get back. This has definitely been the highlight of my Christmas. “I’ve had time to analyse and look back at my game while I’ve been out. The turning point was the Holland-Ireland game. The Dutch midfielders had so much time to pass the ball and I have been trying to put some of that into my training.”
As well as getting through a huge workrate, the midfielder almost scored Wycombe’s winner but Fraser Digby denied Blues’ sole shot on target. Brown was the most creative force of the two sides in midfield, making his return to his early- season form a welcome sight after some of the aimless service offered to Wycombe’s strikers in recent times. Although he was booked for a 55th-minute tussle with Peter Thorne, the midfielder’s execution of his organisational and holding duties typified Wycombe’s brave team performance on a hazardous pitch which was treacherously icy in parts. They defended like Trojans to frustrate Swindon and the midfield’s tracking back and no nonsense tackling reflected their resolve.
While there were no fireworks going forward, with Gary Blissett a lone striker in front of a five strong midfield, Wycombe came the closest to snatching all three points to complete a four points out of six return on their Christmas fixture programme so far.
Blues skipper Terry Evans said the players were fired up for the clash. “We always enjoy the big battles. It was a full-blooded game and that’s the way I like it.” Indeed, there was no holding back from the Wycombe captain in keeping Swindon’s forwards Thorne, who Wycombe tried to sign last season, and Wayne Allison on a tight rein. Neither were able to find the target and as a result, Swindon dropped to second place in the table behind Crewe on goal difference. Allison was a handful, though, and managed to get away from Evans and get a shot in after 13 minutes, but he fired over. Good work by Mickey Bell sent David Farrell away on the left wing after 26 minutes but the latter’s resulting cross-shot was a poor one.
Blissett won a free kick for Blues on 30 minutes, but Dave Carroll’s ball into the box was easily dealt with. Three minutes later, however, he fired in a good corner which Blissett got his head to, but the effort was too high. Swindon were forced to hit long balls forward to Allison who was none too happy with Evans’ holding operation.
The nearest the hosts came to scoring was a header from Kevin Horlock which went over the bar. Swindon appealed for an indirect free kick in the box for a back pass by Bell after 52 minutes. Wycombe, meanwhile, had more joy breaking through but the finish wasn’t there. Jason Rowbotham was put through by McGavin on 63 minutes, but fired way over the top. A good move saw Brown find Bell on the edge of the box on 74 minutes but the full back was too square on goal and splayed the ball wide of the post. Brown tried to take matters into his own hands on 89 minutes when he was sent away on the left from a Blissett pass. He ran on and unleashed a fierce shot which Digby dived down well to parry. It’s a pity really that Wycombe couldn’t play Swindon every week.'
Speaking after the game Manager Alan Smith said: “I was disappointed in the end that we didn’t get three points. Our goalkeeper didn’t have a shot to save and it has been a good Christmas for us, winning on Saturday and drawing today. What you have seen out there reflects the sort of side Wycombe Wanderers are all about. We are a hard side to beat." He added: “If we keep playing like that we should be not he too far away from promotion. I have only had these players for five minutes. There is the temptation to rush the picture on a bit, but it can only move on in stages. I think the players saw what their jobs are today."
With the scheduled games at Brentford (30th December 1995) and at home to Rotherham (New Years Day 1996) postponed due to freezing conditions, the result at Swindon would see Wanderers finish 1995 in 10th place in Division Two. Wycombe would not have another League game until the visit of Notts County on Saturday 13th January 1996 - the fixture on Saturday 6th January being postponed due to opponents Blackpool being involved in a FA Cup Third Round tie. Wycombe would arrange a home friendly with Queens Park Rangers on 6th January to help keep the players match fit.
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