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Wycombe Wanderers 2
Shrewsbury Town 0
Saturday 23rd December 1995
Football League Division Two
Wanderers recorded their first victory for six weeks following a workmanlike 2-0 success over in-form Shrewsbury Town. The visitors came to Adams Park on the back of an eleven match unbeaten run, including seven straight wins in Division Two - a sequence that had launched The Shrews from bottom place in the division in September, to 8th place before their journey to Buckinghamsire. Meanwhile, Wanderers were a place below having previously hit the dizzy heights of 4th at the start of November.
Victory for Alan Smith's side in wet and windy conditions came after an early strike from Gary Blissett had given Wycombe a much needed boost. However, the visitors bossed the second-half, with on loan 'keeper Ben Roberts have another impressive game for Wanderers, before a late goal from Terry Howard sealed the points.
Reporting for the Bucks Free Press, Claire Nash wrote: 'If Wycombe Wanderers are there or thereabouts when promotion spoils go down to the wire next spring, Saturday’s victory against Shrewsbury Town may prove to have been the turning point after a testing first half of this season. But if it does turn out to be a momentous moment, it will be in retrospect only.
Blues registered their first win in seven games with their biggest victory scoreline of the season at home no less. But the match saw Wycombe ride their luck in rodeo fashion when proceedings so nearly became yet another of this term’s perennial draws.
Gary Blissett set Blues on their way with a spectacular third-minute opener, but they were on the rack in the second half. They sat back on their lead and seemed con tent to sweat it out to stop Shrewsbury from breaking through. It was a white-knuckle ride at points. But the visitors didn’t register a shot on target. And when they did, Wycombe had on loan Middlesborough goalkeeper Ben Roberts to thank for protecting a vulnerable lead against opponents who had won 11 out of their last 12 games. Roberts denied Darran Rowbotham, brother of Wycombe defender Jason. from point-blank range on 75 minutes.
Wanderers got the rub of the green when Terry Howard made the points safe, toe poking the ball home from the edge of the box after a goalmouth scramble in the 81st minute.
Shrewsbury’s manager Fred Davies said afterwards that his side had not been relishing the trip to Wycombe, despite their good record and Blues’ lacklustre performances on their home turf. “Before we came here, we knew it was not going to be easy. The last thing we need is an early goal against us and that’s what we got. Blissett hit a magnificent volley. It was one of the those shots which could have gone anywhere. With something like that, you’ve just got to hold your hands up.”
Blissett’s goal, his second in two games, was indeed a spellbinding start. The 31-year-old striker’s unerring instinct in front of goal saw him fire home- into the bottom corner after Dean Spink’s attempted clearance of David Farrell’s left-wing cross landed at his feet.
Wycombe continued to shape up reasonably well going forward during the rest of the first half, with Farrell getting more and better crosses of late. Shrewsbury, with captain and striker Spink playing in a reorganised defence due to injury and suspension, were kept busy but coolly dealt with Blues’ pressure. Steve McGavin, playing wide on the right for Wycombe, spurned a good chance on 36 minutes. Mickey Bell drove in a thunderous cross which was deflected wide but McGavin’s header seared in front of the goalmouth.
Shrewsbury kept possession in impressive fashion after the break. But Wycombe’s staunch defending frustrated the visitors. Roberts made them feel worse when he thwarted their best chance, first parrying a cross in to Darran Rowbotham’s feet and then blocking the striker’s follow-up. Six minutes later, Wycombe rubbed salt into the wound when a Farrell corner caused mayhem for Shrewsbury’s defence. Evans had a header and a shot hit the post, with Patterson and Blissett also having efforts denied - before Howard got a decisive touch.'
Speaking after the game Manager Alan Smith said: "We can only play as well as teams let us play. Our first goal was a cracker and gave us a lift when we needed it."
Smith went on to say that he hoped to extend the loan spell of Gary Blissett, saying: "Blissett is a good pro and knows his job. He had his chance and put it away. It's the difference between being run-of-the-mill and a bit special."
Wanderers would follow the meeting with Shrewsbury with their first ever trip to The County Ground to take on Division Town high-fliers Swindon Town on Boxing Day. The holiday schedule also included a trip to Brentford (30th December) and a home game with Rotherham (New Years Day). However, the impending freezing weather conditions were to put all those games at risk.
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