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Wycombe Wanderers 0
Swansea City 1
Saturday 20th April 1996
Football League Division Two

There was discontent amongst some Wycombe fans after a 1-0 home defeat to a Swansea City side doomed to relegation to the bottom tier. City, managed by former Liverpool star Jan Molby, came to Adams Park with an away record boasting just two wins from 21 but they sneaked victory with a 55th minute goal after a Molby free-kick from the left was headed home by another veteran, Lee Chapman.

Many of Wanderers' lowest ever Saturday Football League attendance of 3,672 were making for the exits long before the final whistle, while some of those who remained at the final whistle to showed their dissatisfaction with the Wycombe Management.

Reporting for the Bucks Free Press from Adams Park, Claire Nash wrote: 'The season can’t end soon enough for Wycombe Wanderers boss Alan Smith and the club’s fans after they booed and reports and jeered the blues manager Adams Park off the pitch following their fourth defeat in five games.

Chants of ‘sort it out’, reverberated around the ground after Wycombe went behind against relegation candidates Swansea City at Adams Park on Saturday. Smith has previously stated that looking at all the players is his priority now the play-offs have long flown out of the window but it cuts no ice with some of the fans. Their impatience is understandable with little to cheer on the pitch as the season staggers to a close.

Cries of ‘Are you watching Alan Smith’, ‘There’s only one Martin O’Neill and Hydey’ - in reference to Blues former manager and ex goalkeeping regular Paul Hyde could also be clearly heard above the celebrations of Swansea’s small group of die-hards who cheered their side’s stubborn refusal to go down to Division Three without a fight.

Smith, in similar obstinate fashion, brushed aside the Wycombe supporters’ complaints. He said he will not be able to fully get to grips with rebuilding the squad until the summer.

The fans, are unhappy, though, with the manager’s persistence in giving some players who have had plenty of chances to prove themselves this season further opportunities. Clearly some are struggling to play the Smith way. But Smith needs to put some of them in the shop window as there will be little cash available to spend on bringing in new blood in the summer.

Managing to replace possibly half the squad with limited spending power would be a magic trick worthy of Paul Daniels, particularly as Smith may bring in veterans of the ilk of Swansea’s player-manager Jan Molby and on-loan Lee Chapman, who scored the struggling visitor’s goal. Free transfers involving old stagers would help balance a young squad but their wages could burn holes in the club’s pockets.

Some of the 12 players whose contracts expire at the end of the season, such as Steve Brown and Dave Carroll, are likely to be kept on unless Smith receives any offers he can’t refuse. The midfield pair put in two of Wycombe’s more impressive individual displays on Saturday. However, Blues generally ran out of ideas once Swansea took the lead and shut up shop.

The visitors’ game plan was to frustrate Wycombe and it worked perfectly. Molby, who made a rare playing appearance since taking over at Swansea two months ago, said: “After seeing the back end of their last few results, we felt we could frustrate them by playing very defensively and by carrying on that way, would have a chance of catching them on the break and that was the way it proved to be.”

It’s not the first time a visiting side’s tactics have worked and Blues’ haven’t. Wycombe enjoyed most of the first half possession. Miquel Desouza had a shot cleared and was greedy with a long-range drive, which went miles over when other players were in easier reach of the goal.

David Farrell put in a few handy crosses from the left wing but Keith Ryan, playing up front rather than in midfield, fired two chances over the bar. Swansea were encouraged by Wycombe’s failure to score and came out with their tails up after the break. They won a free-kick on 55 minutes and from a point just wide of the 18-yard box, Molby picked out Chapman who outjumped Wycombe’s defence to head home. The action hotted up when it went off-pitch in the final moments. Patterson lost his rag with the Swansea dugout when they took their time to give him his ball back for a throw.

There was also much activity in the stands as home fans swarmed to the exits, while others shared their feelings in vocal fashion. Do they like it? Not a lot.'

Wycombe: Dykstra, Skiverton (sub 62 Markman), Bell, Crossley, Evans, Brown, Carroll. Ryan, Desouza, Farrell, Patterson - subs not used: Hardyman, Hall
Scorers: none
Bookings: Crossley 70 (foul)
Swansea City: Freestone, Clode, Cook, Walker, Jones, Molby, Hodgo, Ampadu, Chapman, Torpey, Penny – subs not used: Chapple, Edwards, McDonald
Scorers: Chapman 55
Bookings: : Molby 79 (foul), Cook 86 (time wasting), Chapman 87 (ungentlemanly conduct), Ampadu 90 (foul)
Referee: Mr B Knight (Orpington) Attendance: 3,672

Speaking after the game Manager Alan Smith commented on the relative experience within the Swansea squad, saying: "Swansea had too much Football League experience. The Lee Chapman’s and Jan Molby’s of this world have been there, seen it and done it." Smith then went on to say that this type of experience was what was lacking in the Wanderers squad. "We need people who have been brought up in a more professional manner. “Our best players such as Patterson, Bell and Brown have been professionals at other clubs but some of the others here without previous footballing experience have been found out.” He added: "This has been a nice club, a well-run club but the players have been together far too long." And concluded: “I know changes have to be made in the summer. We need more players with professional experience.”

On the jeering from the crowd, the Wycombe boss said: "That’s the first time one of my sides has got stick like that and it upset me." Smith would face the fans at a Wycombe Wanderers Independent Supporters Club Forum to be held on Monday 29th April 1996 at The Trades and Social Club in High Wycombe.

The attendance versus Swansea was more than 2,000 down on the previous season's home average in the same division, while for Smith's first season in charge, the overall average League gate at Adams Park had dropped from 5,850 to around 4,500.

It was perhaps the financial implications of these facts that promoted Club Director Alan Parry to vent his feelings through the matchday programme. Parry, writing in the Swansea programme, said: "I hate to use the word “consolidation" because that betrays a lack of ambition, but we have risen so quickly that perhaps it's a blessing in disguise that we've had a season of treading water. We can now take stock of what is needed to make a genuine push for promotion to Division One. However, I think it's very important that the board of directors take heed of the opinions of you, our true supporters. Many of you have written to the Club this season and expressed your views about how the team and style of play have changed under Alan Smith. Some letters were merely abusive and made no constructive points, but many more were intelligent and well-reasoned." Parry added: "It would be foolish of the club not to listen. After all, we are in business to provide you - the customer - with the product that you want. In the competitive and unpredictable world of professional sport, that is not always easy to achieve. However, we must never adopt the attitude of 'leave it to us- we know best.' Otherwise, the fans will vote with their feet."

Next game - Wycombe v Carlisle United - Saturday 27th April 1996
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