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Wycombe Wanderers 1
Gillingham 1
Monday 13th November 1995
FA Cup 1st Round

Gary Patterson's wonderstrike on 56 minutes was not enough to beat Division Three high flyers Gillingham in a Monday night televised FA Cup tie at Adams Park. Patterson swept the ball into the top right corner of the Hillbottom Road end goal to break the deadlock and spark a manic celebration but Dennis Bailey's 79th leveller cooled the atmosphere among the home fans.

Wanderers had gone into the tie reeling from a 5-0 defeat at Walsall six days previous in the Autowindscreens Shield but with a 13 match unbeaten League run to their credit, Alan Smith's side were marginal favourites to beat a Gills side managed by Tony Pullis. The incentive for the winners was a home tie with Isthmian League Hitchin Town who had caused a shock by beating Bristol Rovers in their First Round tie at Top Field two days before the Sky cameras visited Adams Park.

It was Alan Smith who caused the first surprise of the evening when he left out record signing John Williams for Patterson. Williams was relegated to the substitute’s bench for the first time since he arrived at the club six weeks ago from Coventry City. The change looked to have paid dividends until Bailey's goal took the tie to a replay at Priestfield the following Tuesday.

Reporting for the Bucks Free Press, Claire Nash wrote: 'Gillingham striker Dennis Bailey scored on his 30th birthday, 14 minutes from time last night, to force Blues into a frustrating FA Cup First Round replay. Millions watched on Sky TV as Wycombe were held at Adams Park by the Division 3 promotion hopefuls, despite dominating most of the match.

Wanderers seemed set for a plum tie at home to Hitchin after a glorious 56 minute thunderbolt from Gary Patterson had given them a deserved 1-0 lead. Patterson was swamped by team-mates, and then took his shirt off for the crowd and TV cameras, as the fans went delirious with delight. Patterson had netted from all of 25 yards after David Farrell laid the ball neatly inside for him. His shot gave Gillingham goalkeeper Jim Stannard no chance.

But just when Wycombe looked set for certain victory, Gillingham substitute Dave Puttnam raced through from the right like a knife through butter. He fired in a cross which birthday boy Bailey side footed home for the equaliser. There then ensued a frantic ten minutes which saw Wycombe increasingly frustrated by Gillingham’s revival and unable to break down the stubborn visitors.

Gillingham actually looked the more determined at the start, forcing a corner in the opening minutes. But Wycombe soon started exerting consistent pressure. Mickey Bell went on a good run on nine minutes, but his cross went just behind Miquel Desouza who was running in on goal. Wycombe then forced a flurry of corners. Desouza’s 11th minute header from Carroll’s cross was on target, but looped straight into Stannard’s hands and Steve Brown’s header went just wide three minutes later.

It was only Stannard’s acrobatics that denied Wycombe in the first half when he tipped Desouza’s overhead wide on 20 minutes and followed up with a superb save to deny Simon Garner moments later. Wycombe enjoyed most of the pressure, but failed to find the finishing touch. Patterson’s header from Carroll’s corner on 38 minutes was the closest they came to taking a half time lead.

Tempers began to fray in this fiercely-contested tie with eight bookings, five-three in Gillingham’s disfavour, with the visitors taking no, prisoners. They issued a warning that their threat was not to be taken lightly on the stroke of half time when Kevin Rattray’s header went narrowly wide from Dominic Naylor’s cross.

The atmosphere boiled up further after the break when Wycombe midfielder Steve Brown was brought down by Simon Ratcliffe’s two-footed tackle on 50 minutes — the Gillingham striker duly being booked.

Wycombe thought they had finally seen off their determined opponents when Patterson’s fine strike looked like sending them through to the next round. It was Patterson’s first goal this season and ended a comeback from a back injury which had given him a nightmare start to his career at Blues since his signing last season from Shrewsbury.

Patterson looked as if he was going to be the hero of the night. But Bailey’s late strike ruined his party, and set up an enthralling replay. Gillingham even managed to cause Blues a late fright when they drew Hyde out to the nearside corner and then crossed the ball in, leaving the keeper stranded. The crowd had their hearts in their mouths as Wycombe defenders scrambled the ball to safety.'

Wycombe: Hyde, Rowbotham, Bell, Howard, Cousins, Brown, Carroll, Patterson, Desouza, Garner, Farrell – subs not used: Williams, McGavin, Soloman
Scorers: Patterson 56
Bookings: Bell 29 (foul), Patterson 53 (foul), Garner 64 (foul)
Gillingham: Stannard, Micklewhite (sub 72 Puttnam), Naylor, Smith, Harris, Green, Martin (Capt), Ratcliffe, Rattray (sub 76 Freeman), Bailey, O’Connor - sub not used: Dunne
Scorers: Bailey 79
Bookings: Rattray 25 (foul), Green 33 (foul), Ratcliffe 50 (foul), Martin 55 (foul), Smith 81 (foul)
Referee: Mr D. Gallagher (Banbury) Attendance: 5,064

Speaking after the game Manager Alan Smith said: "I am very disappointed obviously, but we’re still in it. We produced a more solid performance tonight." Commenting on The Gills equaliser, he added: "It was probably their only chance of the game and they took it, but that’s the way it goes."

Goalscorer Gary Patterson also expressed his delight at scoring: "I don't get many so you have to do something special. The referee nearly booked me for it though."

Next game Saturday 18th November 1995 - Wycombe v Bristol Rovers
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