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Wycombe Wanderers 1
Rotherham United 1
Tuesday 16th April 1996
Football League Division Two

After three straight defeats and in front of the lowest league gate of the season (2,836), Wycombe returned yet another dissapointing display with Miguel Desouza finally saving the blushes for the Wanderers with a second half equaliser during a 1-1 draw with Rotherham United.

The visitors, fresh from their previous Sunday afternoon victory at Wembley in the AutoWindscreens Final, took the lead in 37th minute when top scorer Shaun Goater latched onto the through ball and easily beat the advancing Sieb Dykstra. The goal came moments after Matt Lawrence, starting his first game for Wycombe, combined with Desouza only for Keith Ryan's shot to be blocked. The Millers then broke away to net through the highly rated Goater.

Wanderers equaliser came with ten minutes remaining when there was finally something to cheer about for the Wycombe faithfull when David Farrell crossed deep from the left, Dave Carroll headed back and Desouza couldn't miss with his head from close range.

With just three games remaining in the 1995/96 season Wycombe sat in 11th place in the Division Two table, with 57 points. Swindon Town led the table with 83 points followed by Blackpool in 2nd with 78 points, Oxford United 3rd (71 points), Notts County 4th (71 points), Crewe 5th (70 points) and Chesterfield 6th (66 points).

Reporting for the Bucks Free Press from Adams Park, Claire Nash wrote: 'Wycombe Wanderers had to come from behind to grind out a draw with Rotherham in front of their lowest crowd of the season at Adams Park on Tuesday.

Blues’ mid-table security was never going to be under threat whatever the result in midweek, but the point moved the club from 12th to 11th in Division Two. Rotherham, on the other hand, needed to notch up points to ensure they didn’t slip into murky relegation waters after winning the Auto Windscreens Shield at Wembley with Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Shrewsbury.

Although, the Wycombe gate, at 2,836, failed to go over 3,000 for the first time in the league this season, the crowd contained a handful of well-known faces with Arsenal boss Bruce Rioch and Crystal Palace’s Steve Coppell joining the rest of us in having our endurance tested. Along with Martin O’Neill’s Leicester scout John Robertson, the trio were said to be eyeing up Rotherham midfielder Shaun Goodwin and striker Shaun Goater. Wycombe’s players, meanwhile, have their work cut out to impress their own manager, let alone anyone elses.

Blues skipper Terry Evans, who returned after sitting out Saturday’s match at York, said: “We battled well. It was hard to break them down. There is pressure on players who are pressing for new contracts but it’s no different to pressure when you are pressing for promotion or trying to avoid relegation.”

The match unfolded in a similar fashion to most of Blues’ home games this season. They dominated but went behind to the visitors’ only attack of the half, and even then it was aided by Terry Skiverton’s header back to Wycombe’s on loan goal keeper Sieb Dykstra. Dave Carroll had a couple of chances, Mickey Bell volleyed wide and Steve Brown went close. Shaun Goater pounced on Skiverton’s error and easily beat Dykstra on 39 minutes.

Wycombe tried to hit Rotherham with everything in the second half but suffered from wayward finishing. Dave Farrell attacked on the left wing with renewed vigour after replacing the anonymous ex-Grays striker Matt Lawrence at half time.

Gary Patterson forced a corner and Carroll headed just wide with two quick attacks after the break. Matthew Clarke appeared to bundle Ryan over on 53 minutes but referee Roger Gifford waved play on, possibly because he believed Ryan had lost control of the ball. A minute later, Brown unleashed a powerful 30-yard drive but Clarke was equal to it.

Good work by Bell and Ryan put Miquel Desouza in a good position on the edge of the box on 63 minutes, but the striker was dispossessed. With Rotherham occasionally threatening on the break, Wycombe finally made their breakthrough with nine minutes to go. The goal came from Farrell’s cross from the left which was headed back by Carroll and met with an emphatic header from Desouza in the centre.'

Wycombe: Dykstra, Skiverton, Bell, Cross by, Evans, Brown, Carroll, Ryan, Desouza, Lawrence (sub HT Farrell), Patterson - subs not used: Hardyman, Stapleton
Scorers: Desouza 81
Bookings: none
Rotherham: Clarke, Breckin, Hurst, Garner, Moore, Richardson, Jemson, Goodwin, Berry, Goater, Roscoe (sub 85 Bowyer) - subs not used: Smith, Hayward
Scorers: Goater 39
Bookings: none
Referee: Mr R Gifford (Llanbradach) Attendance: 2,836
(at the time, the lowest gate for a Football League match at Adams Park)

Speaking after the game Manager Alan Smith said he was pleased Wycombe stopped the rot after three consecutive defeats. But he believed a return to winning ways could have been on the cards if Wycombe had been given a penalty: "It was a blatant penalty,” said Smith about the Rotherham goalkeeper’s challenge on Keith Ryan in the second half. But he added: “I can’t really complain. If we had played like that we wouldn’t have lost those three games in a row."

Wanderers' next opponents would be third from bottom Swansea City who were staring relegation to the bottom tier straight in the face. The Welsh club were seven points adrift in the relegation zone and like Wycombe only had three games to play.

Next game - Wycombe v Swansea City - Saturday 20th April 1996
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