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Wycombe Wanderers 0
Brighton & Hove Albion 2
Wednesday 6th March 1996
Football League Division Two

Wanderers' lowest home gate of the 1995/96 season to date witnessed another lack lustre display from Alan Smith's side. Two second half goals by struggling Brighton and Hove Albion let the seasiders cruise home to an easy victory and take Wycombe's run to just two victories in their last 20 competitive fixtures.

Brighton opened the scoring on 54 minutes when Geoff Minton struck home following a free kick on the right. Desperate measures on 64 minutes brought on Paul Hardyman for the ever disappointing David Farrell and with Mickey Bell now pushing up front, Wycombe enjoyed their best spell. Almost immediately Bell crossed for John Williams to force the ball home but the goal was ruled out for a foul on the 'keeper. On 74 minutes Wycombe introduced Damien Markman for his Football League debut and he got involved within a minute with a hard challenge on the Brighton 'keeper. The game was buried for Wycombe with ten minutes remaining when substitute Kevin McGarrigle slotted home a cross from the left and for the second game running Wycombe fans had to bear chants of 'Can we play you every week?' from the opposition fans.

Reporting for the Bucks Free Press from Adams Park, Claire Nash wrote: 'Wycombe Wanderers can effectively wave goodbye to hopes of making the Division Two play-offs after crashing to their fifth defeat in six games this week. Blues threw the game away against relegation-zone strugglers Brighton on Wednesday night with a lousy second-half performance at Adams Park. Wycombe captain Terry Evans said afterwards that a lack of team spirit was his greatest concern.

Evans’s bleak mood and outlook was a gut reaction to a disappointing result against a cash-strapped team who will probably be playing in a lower division next season, despite offering themselves a survival lifeline at Wycombe’s expense. Evans gave an impromptu press conference in the treatment room after boss Alan Smith declined.

Some of Wycombe’s fans made it clear where they stood when they left in greater numbers than usual before the final whistle. Their disquiet about the way the team conduct themselves, par ticularly when they. have gone behind, is sadly understandable. Brighton basically took the money and glory and ran, and Wycombe systematically put their hands up and bolted.

Blues’ tendency to flap under pressure manifested itself once more through their inability to keep possession and pass accurately — hence no clear scoring opportunities once they went behind, and again after Brighton increased their lead. Brighton recovered impressively after Jimmy Case was forced to reshuffle his side twice early on. Paul McDonald and Peter Smith were both injured in a first half in which the visitors looked like a faulty set of Weebles. Wycombe were very much the stronger side in the first half. John Williams fired over and Miquel Desouza hit the bar on nine and ten minutes respectively. It was the nearest they came to scoring in the whole game.

Brighton were clearly pumped up for the second half. Wanderers’ midfielder Steve Brown was booked for a challenge on Stuart Myall as the winger cut in from a right-wing run on 55 minutes. It was to prove very costly as Jeff Minton’s first-time shot found the back of the net after Ian Chapman knocked down a deflection from Denny Mundee’s free kick.

Brighton kept their momentum going and Blues struggled to break them down. Smith blooded raw recruit Damian Markman in an effort to find an equaliser, the youth team player making his first team debut as a 75th minute substitute for Desouza. But the visitors scored again, this time with an excellent goal. Eighteen-year-old Kevin McGarrigle perfectly timed a run from midfield to meet a left-wing cross from Craig Maskell on 80 minutes.

Brighton boss Jimmy Case said afterwards: “We are staring at the trap door. Hopefully, this is the turning point for us.” Wycombe would do well to take heed.'

Wycombe: Roberts, Cousins, Bell, Howard, Evans, Brown, Carroll, Ryan, Desouza (sub 75 Markman), Williams, Farrell (sub 64 Hardyman) - sub not used: Patterson
Scorers: none
Bookings: Brown 54 (foul)
Brighton: Smith (sub 31 McGarrigle), Chapman, Parris, Johnson, McCarthy, Mundee, McDougald, Minton, Maskell, McDonald (sub 15 Myall) - sub not used: Byrne
Scorers: Minton 55, McGarrigle 80
Bookings: Parris 36 (foul), Mundee 50 (foul), Minton 67 (foul)
Referee: Mr M Brandwood (Lichfield, Staffs) Attendance: 3,466

With Wanderers Manager Alan Smith again declining the post match press conference, it was Captain Terry Evans who spelled out a few home truths, saying: "I just don’t know where the next win will come from. We talk about making the play offs, but we could be worrying about relegation the way we are going at the moment. We let down ourselves, the su porters. David Kemp and the manager. We found it hard to break Brighton down after they scored. We have just got to battle now and pull together as a team. That’s the most disappointing thing, that we’re not pulling together as we should. We’re doing all the hard graft on the training pitch, going over our mistakes, watching videos, being coached, but that’s not transferring. We’re grown men. We need to sort ourselves out. The lack of team spirit is my greatest concern."

Wanderers would travel to Shrewsbury the following Saturday with new goalkeeper loan signing Sieb Dykstra in the fold. The 29-year-old Queens Park Rangers number two, who played against Wanderers in a friendly January 1996, was brought in to take over from Ben Roberts who was due to return to Middlesbrough. Roberts was to set to make his final Wycombe appearance against Shrewsbury after three months on loan. Dykstra's loan from QPR had been agreed to the end of the season.

Next game - Shrewsbury v Wycombe - Saturday 9th March 1996

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