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Wycombe Wanderers 1
Bristol Rovers 1
Saturday 18th November 1995
Football League Division Two

Wanderers made it 14 games unbeaten in Division Two following a 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers at Adams Park. Dave Farrell gave Wycombe the lead in the 24th minute and Miquel Desouza had a chance to double the lead three minutes but saw his spot kick saved by Rovers 'keeper Brian Parkin, who had played for Wycombe Manager Alan Smith at Crystal Palace. Smith's side were made to pay for that miss when Andy Gurney squeezed in an equaliser mid-way through the second-half.

Rovers came to Adams Park a week after 2-1 defeat to Hitchin Town in the FA Cup the previous Saturday. Meanwhile, Wanderers had been held to a 1-1 draw at home to Gillingham in their FA Cup First Round tie televised live on Sky on the Monday. The winner of the replay at Gillingham on Tuesday 21st November would host Hitchin in the Second Round.

The draw with Rovers saw Wanderers remain in 4th spot in the Division Two table, with 29 points from their opening 17 games. However, reaching those dizzy heights in the Football League were overshadowed by the ongoing contract dispute Wanderers' goalkeeper Paul Hyde and Manager Alan Smith.

Reporting for the Bucks Free Press, Claire Nash wrote: 'Transfer-listed Wycombe Wanderers goalkeeper Paul Hyde was voted man of the match for a string of spellbinding saves in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers, then declared: “I want to stay with Wycombe.” But the unsettled Blues favourite, who requested a transfer two weeks ago, believes he will almost certainly leave after being told his availability has been circulated to other clubs.

Some Division Two and Three clubs will undoubtedly be interested in Hyde who gave a typical stalwart’s performance for Wycombe in Saturday’s draw. It keeps Blues fourth in Division Two and extends their unbeaten league record to 14 games while their next test is tonight’s FA Cup first-round replay at Gillingham. Hyde is set to feature as usual. The 32-year-old has been ever present in Blues’ line-up since being signed from Hayes in 1991, although he missed his first Wanderers league game through suspension earlier this season.

On Saturday, though, there was no doubting the goalkeeper’s commitment. He made two superb saves to stem Rovers’ fightback after Blues took a first-half lead through David Farrell. Wanderers should have led by more but Miquel Desouza’s 27th-minute penalty was saved by Rovers goalkeeper Brian Parkin. With Blues’ corner count into double figures by half time, it was disappointing they couldn’t make such dominance tell. Rovers made Blues pay for their failure in the second half, hitting back with an equaliser and nearly more had Hyde not flung himself around at timely moments.

After a ragged start, Wanderers’ neat build-up play was encouraging. Full back Mickey Bell and Farrell were a constant threat on the left flank, with Bell causing problems with darting runs forward and accurate crosses. It was Farrell who made the breakthrough, however, when he fired home through a crowd of players on 24 minutes, the shot bobbling through Parkin’s hands. Bell’s good work led up to Wycombe’s penalty three minutes later. Simon Garner was chopped down as he tried to put away Bell’s meaty effort which rebounded off the near post and across the face of goal. Parkin spoilt Desouza’s day by diving left to tip the striker’s penalty, which was perhaps a bit too high, over the crossbar.

Wycombe kept up their bombardment. Bell fired over from 20 yards and Dave Carroll and Jason Cousins both had headers go close. Rovers were sufficiently inspired by Parkin’s heroics to mount a second-half comeback which, as has often been the case with visitors to Adams Park this season, wiped out Blues’ narrow lead.

Hyde parried Andy Tilson’s fiercely-driven free kick which took a wicked deflection from Cousins on 47 minutes. Then he made Rovers’ players clap their hands to their foreheads when he somehow got his finger tips to Paul Beadle’s thunderous effort on 66 minutes. But there was nothing Hyde could do to stop Andy Gurney’s shot squirming in on 69 minutes.

Rovers’ good spell also included a disallowed goal, Gurney’s push on Hyde stopping Billy Clark’s header from counting. Wycombe rediscovered their sense of urgency during the latter stages but lacked a good final ball.'

Wycombe: Hyde, Rowbotham, Bell, Howard, Cousins, Brown, Carroll, Patterson (sub 71 Williams), DeSouza , Garner (sub 83 McGavin), Farrell - sub not used: Soloman
Scorers: Farrell 24
Bookings: none
Bristol Rovers: Parkin, Pritchard, Gurney, Browning, Clark, Tilson, Channing, Beadle (sub 83 Miller), Stewart , Skinner, McLean - subs not used: French, Hayfield
Scorers: Gurney 69
Bookings: Pritchard 19 (foul)
Referee: Mr. K. Leach (Wolverhampton) Attendance: 4,886

Speaking after the game Manager Alan Smith said: "I thought it was game we deserved to win. The penalty was the turning point. Penalties are not hard chances and we must put them away." The Wycombe Manager went on to say that he was confident that Desouza would shrug off his disappointment in not converting the spot-kick, which would have given the striker’s flagging confidence a much-needed boost, adding: "He has got to be mentally strong. He has got to work twice as hard to get his rewards with three defenders keeping an eye on him." Meanwhile, the Wycombe Manager also looked for the positives, saying: “We played some good football today, we’re still fourth in the divi sion, we’re fourteen games unbeaten, and if you were offered that at the start of the season, no-one would have said no."

The Paul Hyde saga was also a discussion point in the post-match interviews, with the Wycombe 'keeper saying: "I am all for playing for Wycombe. I am committed to the club but I’ve been upset by suggestions that my request to discuss my contract means that I just want more money. I asked for a transfer because when I requested a meeting with the manager to talk about my contract, which runs out at the end of the season, I was told that no talks could take place until Christmas."

Alan Smith reacted to Hyde’s request by saying: “I don’t want to lose players, but I don’t want players that are not happy here. I want to get out of this division and I want people committed to playing for Wycombe Wanderers. My concern is winning games and I want players here that will do that."

32-year-old Hyde had been virtually ever present in the Wanderers line-up since being signed from Hayes in the summer of 1991. By November 1995 he had totalled close to 250 appearances for Wanderers and broke a run of 93 consecutive appearances earlier in the 1995/96 campaign after a one match suspension ruled him out of the home meeting with Peterborough. Hyde also revealed at the time of the match with Rovers that he had found it unsettling that other goal-keepers - including Stoke’s Mark Prudhoe, Gillingham’s Jim Stannard ‘and Chelsea’s Nick Colgan have either had trials or had trained with Smith's side since the close-season. Hyde had signed his present two-year contract when Wycombe gained promotion to the Football League two years previous. He had tried to bring forward contract discussions rather than face the prospect of being released along with hundreds of other players once his contract was up at the end of the season. However, the fans favourite had risked Smith’s wrath by broaching the subject of contract talks prematurely. It was situation that was to boil over in December 1995 and consequently make the meeting with Rovers his last competitive appearance for Wanderers at Adams Park.

Next game - Gillingham v Wycombe (FA Cup) - Tuesday 21st November 1995
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