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Blackpool 1
Wycombe Wanderers 1
Tuesday 23rd January 1996
Football League Division Two

Wanderers dragged themselves out of the mire to grab a draw at 3rd placed Blackpool. On a bitterly cold evening, Alan Smith's side went behind on 27 minutes when Andy Priest scored for the Seasiders, but a double second half substitution in the 73rd minute changed the game for Wycombe. Miquel Desouza and Kieth Ryan replaced John Williams and Steve McGavin and three minutes later Desouza grabbed the equaliser. This was Desouza's first goal since scoring a penalty against York back in October 1995 and took his total for the season to 10 League goals. The result maintained Wycombe's tag of draw specialists and also their 11th spot in the table.

Reporting for the Bucks Free Press, Claire Nash wrote: 'The best place to be at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday night was on the pitch. Given the choice between running around to maintain blood circulation or being a sitting duck for a numbing gale in the stands, the former was probably the more beneficial for survival

But both sides played well enough to warm up their respective sets of fans — with around 100 Blues supporters having made the 450-mile round trip to one of the country’s bleakest seaside outposts. Wycombe’s well-earned point certainly benefited hopes of consolidating their position among the play-off place-chasing pack in Division Two.

Miquel Desouza came off the bench to equalise after Wycombe had responded impressively to going a goal behind in a tough first half. The striker, not surprisingly, was delighted to score his first goal since scoring a penalty against York last October. “I’m overjoyed. I’ve come off the bench to score and help us get the draw. My confidence has been very low, particularly leading up to Christmas. But my confidence has been growing again and this has given it a further boost,” said Blues’ beleaguered mainstay forward.

He was given a helping hand by fellow substitute Keith Ryan who replaced Steve McGavin. Within minutes of coming on he flicked on Mickey Bell’s throw to Desouza whose header into the back of the net was greeted with a wall of silence from the home fans. Wycombe fully deserved the goal to reward a hard-grafting second-half performance.

Blackpool looked the more likely to score in the first half. The match then threatened to follow the same pattern as Blues’ 2-0 defeat at Crewe last Saturday, with Wycombe looking unlikely to find the target, particularly when possession was wasted with long punts forward.

The Seasiders, many pundits’ favourites for promotion this season, looked an impressive outfit, with former West Brom midfielder Micky Mellon and James Quinn, who has been targeted by Liverpool, imposing themselves on the game. It was Quinn’s neat through ball to Tony Ellis which started the move which led to Blackpool’s goal. Ellis fired in a cross to Andy Preece on the far side of the box, the forward giving beaten Ben Roberts no chance with a slick finish inside the far post. Mellon’s substitution early on in the second half was a turning point, with Wycombe’s midfield, particularly Gary Patterson, making considerably more headway and hence created more opportunities to service the forwards.

A verbal rocket from boss Alan Smith at half time had also upped the urgency level. “We had a kick up the arse in the changing rooms. We were told we were making it too easy for them,” explained Ryan afterwards. Whatever Smith had said worked, as did his double substitution on 73 minutes, with Ryan and Desouza coming up with the goods almost straight away.

Wycombe: Roberts, Rowbotham, Bell, Howard, Evans, Brown, Carroll, Patterson, McGavin (sub 73 Ryan), Williams (sub 73 Desouza), Farrell - sub not used: Cousins
Scorers: Desouza 76
Bookings: Rowbotham 34 (foul), Brown 88 (kicking the ball away)
Blackpool: Banks, Bryan, Brown, Linighan, Mellon (sub 53 Gouck), Quinn, Lydiate, Bonnor, Morrison (sub 8 Holden [sub 85 Watson]), Ellis, Preece
Scorers: Preece 27
Bookings: none
Referee: Mr I Cruikshanks (Hartlepool) Attendance: 4,040 - revised by Blackpool from 3,877 (away 109)

Wanderers' next two games were scheduled to be against lower placed sides in the Division Two table - 2nd from bottom Brighton were due to visit Adams Park the following Saturday (27th January), while the visit to Brentford had been re-arranged for Tuesday 30th January. Wycombe Manager Alan Smith commented: "I believe that if we work hard we can get the points. We have worked very hard against sides like Swindon and Blackpool but now we need to start picking up the points at home. We have to forget about where these teams are in the table and just play the way we know we can." The meeting with Brighton was postponed due to the freezing conditions affecting most of the country but there was a sufficient thaw for the game at Griffin Park to go ahead.

Next game - Brentford v Wycombe - Tuesday 30th January 1996
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