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Wycombe Wanderers 0
Oxford United 3
Monday 8th April 1996
Football League Division Two

Wanderers slumped to their worst home defeat for over a year when local rivals Oxford United well and truly convicted Alan Smith's side to another season in Division Two with a 3-0 win at Adams Park on Easter Monday. According to the COTN archives from April 1996, 'The nature of the defeat leaves Wycombe fans with no doubt that something is seriously wrong behind the scenes following recent improvements at home.'

Wycombe's biggest home League gate of the season, 6,727, saw Matt Crossley return to action in favour of Terry Howard, dropped after his nightmare at Hull the previous Saturday. The early chances went Wycombe's way with Steve McGavin and Dave Carroll going close. The visitors had their first serious effort on 32 minutes when Phil Gilchrist had a shot beaten away by Sieb Dykstra but three minutes before the break he was beaten when a right wing cross was headed home by David Rush.

Wycombe naturally began the second half with a little more determination but even with John Williams replacing McGavin the best effort came on 61 minutes when the Wycombe sub fired into the side netting following a Carroll cross. It was Wycombe's last moment of hope because on 67 minutes Stuart Massey headed home a corner from the left and the game was dead. Paul Moody, who had come on just before the second goal, completed the rout when he rifled home from just inside the box.

Reporting for the Bucks Free Press from Adams Park, Claire Nash wrote: 'Wycombe Wanderers rounded off a miserable Easter weekend as they were hammered 3-0 by arch-rivals Oxford United. Blues struggled to lift themselves after Saturday’s disastrous 4-2 defeat at bottom club Hull City. The two defeats have finally signalled the end of Wycombe’s play-off dream.

The Oxford result was a particularly galling one for Wycombe. For it was the first time they have lost to Oxford in four league meetings, and it sees their rivals sitting pretty in a play-off position. Fed-up Blues fans began streaming out of Adams Park ten minutes from the end as Oxford fans mocked them with chants of ‘cheerio’.

But it all began fairly brightly for the Blues, who had the better of the first 20 minutes of what was a subdued derby opening. McGavin fired over from Patterson’s good through ball after ten minutes and Dave Carroll volleyed over from Crossley’s cross from the left on 18 minutes.

Wycombe’s first shot on target was Carroll’s header from a Mickey Bell cross on 23 minutes, but Philip Whitehead saved with ease. Oxford came into the game much more after 25 minutes. Matthew Murphy headed wide after a Wycombe defender flicked on Beauchamp’s corner on 25 minutes.

Oxford’s man-in-form Martin Aldridge volleyed over on 26 minutes and Matthew Elliott tested Sieb Dykstra with a powerful shot from outside the box on 33 minutes.

The game picked up a few gears before the break with the visitors looking the more ominous of the two sides. United went into the lead at the worst possible time for Wycombe when David Rush headed home at the far post in the 42nd minute, after Les Robinson’s right wing cross had Dykstra all at sea. The visitors’ goal marked the first time they have taken the lead against Wycombe in four Football League games.

Wycombe tried to busy themselves after the break but it was to no avail, and it all went from bad to worse. Desouza’s overhead flip nearly put Brown in a good position at the far post but Les Robinson cleared on 50 minutes. McGavin struck the crossbar on 51 minutes after turning well following Evans’ downward header a minute later.

Smith replaced McGavin with John Williams for the striker’s first match in three games after injury. But apart from hitting the side netting on 62 minutes, Williams had a luckless afternoon as did Miquel Desouza.

Wycombe generally struggled to make an impression once Oxford increased their lead with two second half goals. Blues showed a lack of imagination in the face of an extremely tough United defence. The visitors’ second came as a result of Wycombe’s poor defending at a 68th minute corner. Substitute Stuart Massey headed in at the far post after Elliott flicked on Joey Beauchamp’s cross. While Steve Brown and Bell worked hard to create an opening for Wycombe, the attacks broke down through a lack of imagination and an effective final ball into the box.

Oxford carried on regardless with another substitute adding to Wycombe’s woe. Paul Moody came off the bench to score the goal of the game on 75 minutes, shooting through Dykstra’s legs after a 25 yard run down the left wing. From then, the exodus from the ground was on. With players’ contracts coming up for renewal, it seems it’s only a matter of time before half the Wycombe squad follow the fans.'
Wycombe: Dykstra, Cousins, Bell, Crossley, Evans, Brown, Carroll, Ryan, Desouza, McGavin (sub 58 Williams), Patterson - subs not used: Hardyman, Farrell
Scorers: none
Oxford United: Whitehead, Robinson, Ford, Smith, Elliott, Gilchrist, Rush (sub 85 Allen), Lewis, Aldridge (sub 67 Moody),Beauchamp, Murphy (sub 63 Massey)
Scorers: Rush 41, Massey 67, Moody 74
Referee: Attendance: 6,727

Manager Alan Smith was not in a talkative mood after the game but his opposite number at Oxford, Denis Smith, said: "I am delighted. It’s pleasing now that we can hold our heads up high against Wycombe. I am fed up with losing to them."

Meanwhile, Wanderers skipper Terry Evans said afterwards: “I don’t think we played atrociously. It wasn’t a bad performance. But once they got their first goal, they shut up shop and we were never going to break them down.” He added: “The rot set in on Saturday.”

Elsewhere, dropped defender Terry Howard commented on his future at Adams Park after being dropped for the Easter Monday meeting with United, saying, "I’m not injured. I’ve been dropped. Your future’s obviously in doubt if you are dropped at this stage of the season,” said the centre back, who joined Wanderer under Martin O’Neill after being sacked by Leyton Orient in February 1995.

Howard would be one of twelve Wycombe players out of contract at the end of the 1995/96 campaign - the full list reading: Steve Brown, Dave Carroll, Matt Crossley, Simon Garner, Paul Hardyman, Terry Howard, Matt Lawrence, Keith Ryan, Jason Soloman, Simon Stapleton, Shaun Stevens and Terry Skiverton.

Players whose contracts ran to 1997 were: Mickey Bell, Anthony Clark, Jason Cousins, Miquel Desouza, Terry Evans, David Farrell, Steve McGavin, Brian McGorry, Gary Patterson, Jason Rowbotham and John Williams.

With regard to Howard, Alan Smith later commented: "I don’t really need to see what Howard can do. He’s played for most of the season."

Next game - York City v Wycombe - Saturday 13th April 1996
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