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December 1996 Reports
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Tues 3rd December 1996 - WYCOMBE 1 Millwall 0 - Division Two
Sat 14th December 1996 - WYCOMBE 1 Chesterfield 0 - Division Two
Sat 21st December 1996 - Bristol Rovers 3 WYCOMBE 4 - Division Two
Thurs 26th December 1996 - WYCOMBE 0 Walsall 2 - Division Two
Thursday 26th December 1996
Football League Division Two

Wycombe lost out on the possibility of three vital points when Walsall won a farcical game at Adams Park on Boxing Day. Referee Mike Bailey had passed the ice bound pitch 'fit' at 10.30am but anything resembling football during the 90 minutes of play was purely coincidental. The result was made even more frustrating knowing that fellow strugglers Peterborough United had won earlier in the day, coupled with thought of trips to Luton and Brentford within the next week. More bad news came when debutant John Cornforth had to leave the field injured on 40 minutes after he had showed some early promise. Cornforth replaced Dave Carroll who was dropped from the starting line-up for the first time this season. Another new comer Michael Forsyth also started his first game - coming in for the out of favour Paul McCarthy.
Walsall won the game with two second half goals - the latter in the final minute as Wycombe failed once again to hit the target despite having most of the play. The vastly improved Steve McGavin should have equalised on 86 minutes during what may prove to be a key game come the end of the season.
Both sides spent most of the first half trying to find their feet. Wycombe forced the first attack on 15 minutes when Jason Cousins crossed from the right for Desouza to flick towards goal with his head but the loose ball was eventually cleared as the ball 'pinballed' around the Walsall area. Walsall's best moment of the first half came on 30 minutes when Kyle Lightborne latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the Wycombe box but could only find teammate Hodge in his path. With Hodge down injured the ball broke to the other end with Simpson clashing with Walsall 'keeper Walker as they both came for the ball just outside the area - the latter being judged to have committed a foul, giving Wycombe a free-kick and the 'keeper a rather harsh booking. New boy Cornforth took the resulting free-kick and produced Wycombe's best effort of the half - curling the ball over the four man wall and onto the Walsall crossbar.
Half-time Wycombe 0 Walsall 0
Nine minutes into the second half Evans had a long range effort picked up well by Cheesewright but Wycombe still looked the side more likely to score. On 57 minutes DeSouza found himself clear on goal from the right but his low and hard shot was beaten down by Walker. Then on 65 minutes McGavin set-up Bell with another back-heel on the left hand side of the Walsall area but the shot was cleared for a corner. A minute later however Wycombe fell behind when a cross from the left was met by Mark BLAKE who crashed in an effort from 25 yards that went in off the underside of Cheesewright's crossbar. It was a major blow for Wycombe but they should have forced an equaliser with 4 minutes remaining when Kavanagh came in from the right, played the ball to DeSouza whose half hit shot fell to McGavin 15 yards in front of goal but the striker completely miss-kicked it and Walker collected it safely. Wycombe's fruitless day was completed in the dying minutes when Walsall broke again down the left and LIGHTBOURNE had the simple task of tapping home into an empty net. Walsall even had a chance to make it three in injury time when Watson forced a good save from Cheesewright - the 'keeper using his legs to force the ball away.
Final Score Wycombe 0 Walsall 2
WYCOMBE TEAM: Cheesewright, Cousins (sub 77 Williams), Bell, Forsyth, Evans, Kavanagh, Davis, Cornforth (sub 39 Brown), DeSouza, McGavin, Simpson. sub not used:McCarthy. Att:5,075

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Saturday 21st December 1996
Football League Division Two

When John Cheesewright slapped the ball into his own net on 60 minutes to give Rovers a 3-1 lead, many of the 500 or so Wycombe fans who had braved the bitterly cold conditions at the Memorial Ground must have wondered why they had bothered. 30 minutes later following a Terry Evans late lunge at goal, those same fans knew they had witnessed a classic away victory that made the weather seem so much warmer on the journey home.
Playing in the unusual surroundings of the 'two-sided' Rugby Ground at Bristol, Wycombe donned their 'lucky' red kit to avoid clashing with Rovers truly appalling new home kit. It was the 'Tesco Bag' wearing side though that created the first opening - Matthew Lockwood trying his luck from 30 yards but Cheesewright saw the ball skid safely past his left upright. 2 minutes later Wycombe worked their first chance when Davis broke free from midfield, but when his effort failed, Michael Simpson's shot from the rebound was blocked. On 25 minutes Cheesewright began a nervous afternoon when he dropped a right wing cross - thankfully for Wycombe the ball was cleared. Wycombe responded immediately with DeSouza racing down the right and centering for Davis, whose shot was shielded by the Rovers defence and Carroll couldn't take advantage of the loose ball. Rovers stepped up the pressure as the half-time break approached - first loan signing from Crystal Palace, Jason Harris, blasted over from close range following a right wing cross by Jamie Cureton, then on 44 minutes an indirect free-kick from the right was played in around the Wycombe wall for CURETON to convert with a clever diving header. Similar to the Barnet game. Wycombe replyed also immediately - DeSouza playing the bal in from the left for McGavin to see his volley blocked, then within 30 seconds McGavin had picked the ball up on the left with his center eventually being thumped home by Dave CARROLL to level the scores.
Half-time Rovers 1 Wycombe 1
Rovers took the lead again 7 minutes into the second-half when they broke from midfield and Jason HARRIS drove the ball under Cheesewright from about 15 yards as the Wycombe 'keeper adopted to stay on his line. On the hour mark the game looked lost for Wycombe when a viscous inswinging corner by LOCKWOOD from the right was punched into his own net by Cheesewright. It was a demorolising blow for the Wycombe fans but they saw a lifeline within 2 minutes when Mickey BELL scored another remarkable goal - this time a 30 yard high curling effort from out on the left wing, that sailed past a bemused Andy Collet in the Rovers goal. Wycombe saw blood and came close to equalising on 69 minutes when DeSouza set-up Davis from the left but the loan player saw his goal drought continue as his shot was blocked. A minute later, however, Wycombe were level when a McGavin free-kick from the right was struck home hard and low by Michael SIMPSON to Collet's left. There was only looked one winner at this stage, with Wycombe forcing most of the play. Wycombe won a corner on the left on 84 minutes and when Terry EVANS slid home Mickey Bell's resulting cross the smash and grab raid was complete and Wycombe could celebrate the first ever Football League victory over Rovers and their first away win since April.
Final Score Rovers 3 Wycombe 4
WYCOMBE TEAM: Cheesewright, Cousins, Bell, McCarthy, Evans, Kavanagh (sub 53 Forysyth), Carroll(sub 67 Brown), Davis, DeSouza, McGavin, Simpson. sub not used:Farrell. Att:4,465

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Tuesday 17th December 1996
FA Cup Second Round replay
Wycombe 3 Barnet 2

Wycombe made it through to the Third Round of the FA Cup after overcoming Barnet in the televised replay at Adams Park. Wycombe needed to come from behind to beat their former Conference rivals but were cruising after DeSouza scored another great goal to make the score 3-1. See our special match report for full details.
WYCOMBE TEAM: Cheesewright, Cousins, Bell (sub 85 Farrell), McCarthy, Crossley, Kavanagh, Carroll(sub 81 Harkin), Williams, Desouza, McGavin, Patterson (sub 76 Brown). subs all used Att:3,851
Saturday 14th December 1996
Football League Division Two

Wycombe fans were left arguing after Saturday's win against Chesterfield - Whose goal was better? Mickey Bell's effort against Millwall or Miguel DeSouza's rocket like winner against Chesterfield. John Gregory is reported to be fining players for shooting from long range but with Bell, McGavin and now Desouza all being successful from outside the box in successive games, perhaps the players should be offered a bonus for such attempts!
Desouza's 80th minute wonder strike won the game for Wycombe just when it seemed that the chance to take all three points had gone. On a slightly frost bound Adams Park surface, the game had been fairly even until Wycombe stepped up a gear for the final 15 minutes. Steve McGavin was again in inspired form and had a hand in the winner. A debut was given to loan signing Michael Simpson - he performed well in midfield and received the Man of the Match award. There was no place for new signings John Cornforth and Michael Forysth, while Steve Brown and Terry Evans were still suspended from their misdemeanors against Preston.
Wycombe continued with the John Gregory inspired passing game but although pretty to watch, the final touch near goal was again missing. The first goal mouth action game on 20 minutes when Bell crossed from the left for Davis to flick just wide. Chesterfield's more direct approach had Wycombe reeling on 24 minutes when a Jamie Hewitt corner was headed against the bar by Chris Perkins - Captain Cousins coming to the rescue to clear the ball off the line as the visitors claimed the ball had crossed the line (no we don't want a third official). This seemed to set the pattern for the remainder of the game. On 29 minutes Davis served the ball to McGavin but the Supporters Player of the Month for November saw his first time volley from 10 yards blocked by the legs of Chesterfield's 'keeper Billey Mercer. Wycombe had a strong penalty appeal turned down on 34 minutes when McGavin appeared to be pushed in the box (yes we do want a third official) but Chesterfield responded immediately, breaking up field with Lee Rogers sending in a 25 yarder that Cheesewright turned around his left hand post at full-stretch.
Half-Time Wycombe 0 Chesterfield 0
Wycombe continued living dangerously at the back 2 minutes into the 2nd half when the bulky figure of Steve Gaughan flicked the ball in from the left for Cheesewright to save well and then Matt Crossley saved the blushes by clearing off the line. Chesterfield attacked again on 52 minute, Mark Jules appearing to miss an open goal as the ball flashed across the face of the Wycombe goal from the left. The close shaves seemed to shock Wycombe back into action - Simpson going close at the other end on 56 minutes after more good work on the left by McGavin. John Gregory then made the bravest decision of the day, replacing Carroll with John Williams on 61 minutes while many of the crowd were suggesting that Desouza might be more appropriate. Wycombe's change of pace started when Bell saw an effort on the turn well saved by Mercer then on 77 minutes Williams and Desouza combined on the right to force corner - Bell sending the deadball over that was initially cleared and then returned to Bell by Simpson and finally headed against the far post by an attack minded Matt Crossley. Desouza's goal on 80 minutes provided the talking (and possibly drinking) point for the remainder of the evening. Again it was McGavin who did most of the work down the left - finally playing the ball left to DESOUZA who controlled the ball, looked up and drilled an unstoppable stop into the far right corner of the Chesterfield net. Perhaps SKY can calculate the ball speed before Tuesday nights coverage of the Barnet replay? Again the final minutes saw the finger nails take a hammering but Wycombe clung on to take the points. A draw may have been a fair result but Wycombe need the points more than Chesterfield - so what the hell!
The bottom of Division Two looks like this:

Team                 Played   Won Drawn Lost  For  Against   Points
Blackpool              23      5   10    8     22    27        25  
Plymouth Argyle        23      5    9    9     26    33        24  
Peterborough United    23      4    9   10     32    41        21  
Notts County           22      5    6   11     15    23        21  
Wycombe Wanderers      23      5    5   13     18    33        20  
Rotherham United       22      3    7   12     18    33        16  

WYCOMBE TEAM: Cheesewright, Cousins, Bell, McCarthy, Crossley, Kavanagh, Carroll(sub 61 Williams), Davis (sub 88 Patterson), DeSouza, McGavin, Simpson. sub not used:Farrell. Att:4,610

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Saturday 7th December 1996
FA Cup Second Round

Wycombe came back from 2-0 down at Underhill to force a replay in the FA Cup 2nd Round match - see the full match report for details.
WYCOMBE TEAM: Cheesewright, Cousins, Bell, McCarthy, Lawrence, Patterson (sub 60 Harkin), Carroll, Williams, Farrell, McGavin, Desouza (sub 78 Skiverton). sub not used:McGorry. Att:3,176
Tuesday 3rd December
Football League Division Two

A 77th minute 30 yarder from Mickey Bell gave Wycombe a deserved win over table toppers Millwall. The result takes the Wanderers off the bottom of the table and also ended Millwall's 10 game unbeaten League run.
Wycombe fielded a side with one change from the one which lost at Wrexham on Saturday - Steve Brown returning for the injured Matt Lawrence - and a shoot on sight policy finally paid dividends just when it seemed the Wycombe fans were in for another night of frustration.
Wycombe were on the attack within the opening few minutes - Dave Carroll 'ducking and diving' into the Millwall box before sending in a low shot that Tim Carter got down well to save. Neil Davis had a half-chance from close range after 6 minutes and moments later Carter had to be on his toes to tip over a cross-cum-shot that bounced awkwardly in the night breeze. Millwall, playing their first ever game at Adams Park, created their first opening on 29 minutes when David Savage burst through from midfield - but Cheesewright stretched out to pull in the ball as Savage attempted to round the Wycombe 'keeper. The visitors continued their best spell of the game on 34 minutes when Jason Dair crossed from the right but Savage and Paul Hartley got in each others way as the ball broke free 8 yards in front of the danger zone. A fairly even half ended goalless.
Half-time Wycombe 0 Millwall 0
Wycombe should have gone ahead 3 minutes into the 2nd half when Davis broke through in a similar manner to Savage but also like the Millwall player, the 'keeper got the better of the forward. Moments later Desouza delivered from the left and Anton Rogan was forced to clear for a corner. A Steve Brown slip let in Steve Crawford with a chance on 53 minutes but the striker scooped the ball into the Millwall fans packed in the Hillbottom Road end. Wycombe continued to domiminate, however, with Mickey Bell being the major play-maker with several left wing runs. Brown had a long range effort tipped wide by Carter on 54 minutes - the resulting inswinging corner from Carroll also causing problems in the Millwall defence as Desouza closed in. Millwall momentarily woke up on 60 minutes when Cheesewright presented Crawford with another opening but he struck his effort wide. Wycombe responded with Davis turning in the area after another Bell cross on 66 minutes, then 3 minutes later Carroll should have down better after Desouza had headed back across goal. The chance of three points looked to be slipping when Cheesewright had to be alert to pick out another Crawford effort on 76 minutes but a minute later the points were sealed with a stunning goal - Mickey BELL driving the ball home from a full 30 yards into the top left hand corner of the net and sparking a player bundle in front of a delighted Valley End. Wycombe kept the home fans on tender hooks for the closing stages - Cheesewright plucking out a curling left wing effort from Jason Van Blerk on 80 minutes - but Wycombe held on for three thoroughly deserved and much needed points.
WYCOMBE TEAM: Cheesewright, Cousins, Bell, McCarthy, Evans, Kavanagh, Carroll, Brown, Davis, McGavin, Desouza. subs not used:Williams, Patterson, Farrell. Att:4,550
All match reports © 1996 Chairboys on the Net
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