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December 1997 Reports
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Tue 2nd December 1997- Grimsby 0 WYCOMBE 0 - Division Two
Sat 13th December 1997 - WYCOMBE 2 Oldham 1 - Division Two
Sat 20th December 1997 - Millwall 1 WYCOMBE 0 - Division Two
Fri 26th December 1997 - WYCOMBE 0 WATFORD 0 - Division Two
Sun 29th December 1997 - Southend 1 WYCOMBE 2 - Division Two
Sunday 28th December - Division Two

Wycombe were nearly left rueing a series of missed chances in the first half at fellow strugglers Southend on Sunday afternoon. Keith Scott and Mark Stallard were the chief culprits after the former had given Wycombe an early lead. An all too familiar defensive clanger gave Southend an equaliser minutes into the second-half but a late strike from Scott eased Wycombe's ever increasing relegation worries. A two week break until the next League game will leave Wycombe with plenty of time to contemplate what the new year will offer.
Another unchanged line-up went into the noon kick-off at Roots Hall full of confidence having beaten Southend twice already this season but could have gone behind as early as the third minute when Regis Coulbault hit the bar from a Southend corner. Wycombe took the lead on 6 minutes, however, from their first attack when Carroll and McGavin combined to set-up Keith SCOTT from close range and unlike the nightmare miss against Watford made no mistake this time. The chaotic nature of both defences led to further chances at both ends. On 12 minutes good work from Carroll ended with Stallard forcing the on-loan Neville Southall to save well but the Wycombe striker should have scored. Taylor fumbled in the Wycombe goal moments later but Wycombe cleared again. Stallard choose to shoot from a narrow angle on 18 minutes when a squared ball to McGavin may have been more productive. It was another glaring miss by Keith Scott on 28 minutes that had the Wycombe fans holding their heads again - Scott mis-cueing from no-more than two yards after Southall was caught out of position. Southend looked dangerous on the break and Taylor had to be alert to sweep a corner away on 28 minutes. Scott's afternoon continued to deteriate on 33 minutes when he was booked for elbowing ex-Wycombe schoolboy Keith Dublin. Wycombe fans feared the worst on 40 minutes when Paul McCarthy and Jeroen Boere tussled in the area and the referee blew the whistle only to book Boere - the home fans were not amused.
Half-time Southend 0 Wycombe 1
All the missed chances were made to look even more painful after just 3 minutes of the second-half when a defensive error by David Kerslake lead to Southend's equaliser - the on-loan player trying to head the ball back to Taylor in the Wycombe goal but Southend substitute Andy THOMSON nipped in to add to a catalogue of dreadful goals that Wycombe have conceded this season. Wycombe had another glorious chance after 16 minutes of the second-half when Stallard beat the offside trap but shot straight at Southall with Scott in waiting (who said he would have probably missed as well?). Kerslake spotted Southall off his line on 67 minutes but the Welshman scrambled back to force a corner. The game could have gone either way at this point with both sides desperate for points. With 15 minutes remaining Coulbault forced Taylor to make another memorable save - Taylor diving to his right to push the ball around for a corner. John Gregory threw on Paul Read with a few minutes left to try his luck against a club he played on loan for while at Arsenal. It was SCOTT, however, who had the last word when he snatched the winner on 85 minutes. The move started with Brown playing to Carroll just inside the Wycombe half before he played the ball wide to McGavin on the left who crossed for Scott to head home at the far post - Scott cupping his ear to the Wycombe fans as he lapped up the celebrations. The final minutes were played out in nail-biting style as Southend piled on the pressure deep into a seemingly endless amount of stoppage time - Taylor making another incredible save and also saw the cross-bar hit before the referee brought joy to the travelling fans.

Full Time Southend 1 Wycombe 2
WYCOMBE TEAM: Taylor, Kerslake, Kavanagh, Ryan, McCarthy, Forsyth, Carroll, Scott, Stallard (sub 76 Read), McGavin (sub 90 Harkin), Brown sub not used Mohan Att:5,162

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Friday 26th December - Division Two

The clash against table toppers Watford ended goalless after both sides wasted chances to claim all three points. Wycombe had a glorious chance to win the game in the 62nd minute when Keith Scott contrived to miss from extreme close-range while Martin Taylor kept out Watford's late surge. Another inspired performance by Steve McGavin was the springboard for a encouraging display by the Wanderers but it wasn't quite enough to earn the all important victory. The point keeps Wycombe perched just above the relegation zone with the important clash at fellow strugglers Southend to come on Sunday.
It was 'as you were' for the third game running for Wycombe - Nicky Mohan returning only as a sub following his three match suspension. The 8,000 plus Boxing Day crowd were treated to several goalmouth incidents but defences were on top, either through off-side traps or shear weight of numbers behind the ball. Kevin Millen headed over a Peter Kennedy free-kick after just 3 minutes for the Hornets but Wycombe responded when Carroll flicked the ball across from the right only for Scott to mis-judge his first-time effort. It was the first of several near-efforts from Scotty who played on loan for the visitors in last season's corresponding fixture. The end-to-end pattern of play continued when Jason Lee headed over a Gifton Noel-Williams right flank cross on 15 minutes - the two Watford giants causing several headaches in the Wycombe defence during the afternoon. Steve McGavin's contributions began in earnest on 24 minutes when he laided the ball off to Carroll on the right but Scott's header lacked power. A similar move involving an exchange between Stallard and McGavin ended with another Scott header but this time Scott got the power but not the direction.
Half-time 0-0
After the previous week's second half slump at Millwall, Wycombe continued to press for the remaining 45 minutes although Watford always looked dangerous on the break. Martin Taylor held onto a Jason Lee bullet on the hour mark but two minutes later Wycombe should have taken the lead. More good work from McGavin on the left saw the ball pushed to Kavanagh who played it short to Brown. Brown nipped in the box and found Stallard at the far post, who from a narrow angle flashed the ball across the face of the goal where, somehow, Scott failed to connect with the correct part of the body to force the ball home from practically zero distance. Worse miss ever? Not quite but up there amongst them. Stallard took too long with a shot from the left on 69 minutes and Peter Kennedy's shot from the resulting break was very nearly the ultimate punishment but it was deflected over. Watford came strong in the closing quarter of an hour but Taylor proved his worth. Wycombe's final effort came from a free-kick on the left side of the Watford penalty area. A bizzare build-up involving four Wycombe players huddled in circle before McGavin floated the ball over the Watford bar. 0-0 a fair result and good entertainment for the Boxing Day crowd.

Full-time Wycombe 0 Watford 0
WYCOMBE TEAM: Taylor, Kerslake, Kavanagh, Ryan, McCarthy, Forsyth, Carroll, Scott, Stallard, McGavin, Brown subs not used Mohan, Harkin and Simpson Att:8.090

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Saturday 20th December - Division Two

"What went wrong in the second-half?" was the type of question that Wycombe fans were asking at the end of the 90 minutes at the New Den on Saturday. After an encouraging and relatively composed first half performance, an early second half goal for Millwall signalled Wycombe's return to their former bad habits and coupled with another long list of bookings, leaves John Gregory with another headache even before the holiday games commence. As another three points go begging, Wycombe fall to 18th place in the table and the fans are left waiting for their Christmas cheer.
Playing an unchanged line-up to the one that beat Oldham the week before, Wycombe played all the football during the first 45 minutes - creating the better goalscoring chances. On 13 minutes Forsyth headed through to Stallard but the striker, with more time than he realised, rushed a header when using his feet would have surely been more productive. Two minutes later Carroll fed Stallard on the right, he played the ball short to Scott who from a narrow angle forced Nigel Spink to concede a corner. Martin Taylor was rarely troubled although he has to quick off his line on 23 minutes to pick out a loose ball after a home attack. Millwall had a mini spell of pressure with ten minutes of the half remaining but Wycombe's eleven man defence held out. Wycombe broke out from this pressure on 37 minutes, with loaner Kerslake setting up Scott with a header that Spink saved with relative ease. This was followed immediately by Wycombe's best chance of the game. The ball was pushed wide again to Stallard who weaved into the box but his shot was not sufficient to beat Spink who saved with one hand to his left.
Half-time 0-0
If the first-half was encouraging the second-half was truly depressing. Millwall came out of their cocoon after just 2 minutes when Ricky Newman tried his luck from all of 35 yards - Taylor tipping the speculative effort over. From the resulting corner Millwall scored the decisive goal. The corner was delivered from the left, cleared as far as Bobby Bowry who pushed the ball back wide to Lucas Neill who re-centred for the unmarked Paul SHAW to head home from close range. Wycombe simply didn't respond and could have lost by more if Taylor hadn't have been alert or Millwall could shoot on target. Ex-Palace player Carl Veart saw Taylor block his effort on 74 minutes - the follow-up ending up in the top tier of the away end much to amusement of the travelling fans. A minute later Paul McCarthy nearly committed more defensive suicide when he tried to shield a ball out of play - it was never going out and Paul Shaw centered for Paul Wilkinson who thankfully for Wycombe sliced the chance wide of the gaping net. Steve Brown managed to floor two Millwall players with one tackle on 76 minutes - quite a feat even by his incredibly low standards. Brown, booked earlier in the game, then seemingly proceeded to look for that vital incident that would earn him a red card. He raised him arms to Bowry with a couple of minutes left but luckily for Brown referee Gurnham Singh choose to turn a blind eye. Gregory threw on Harkin and Cousins near the end both all they could do was to both earn yellow cards - surely a new record in the Wycombe hall of shame. Martin Taylor tipped over another long ranger, this time from Lucas Neill as one of Wycombe's most indisiplined second-half performances of the season brought the familiar frowns to the Wycombe faces.

Full Time Millwall 1 Wycombe 0
WYCOMBE TEAM: Taylor, Kerslake, Kavanagh (sub 77 Cousins), Ryan, McCarthy, Forsyth, Carroll, Scott (sub 77 Harkin), Stallard, McGavin, Brown sub not used Simpson Att:6,092

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Saturday 13th December - Division Two

Wycombe gained three vital points as a bizzare winning goal from Steve McGavin with seven minutes remaining lifted the recent gloom at Adams Park. Eleven minutes earlier a fiasco in the Wycombe defence had looked to have wasted all the hard work as Oldham grabbed an undeserved equaliser. The victory ends Wycombe's run of eight League games without a win and was made to look all the more important with five of the seven clubs below the Wanderers in the table all winning.
The last home outing before Christmas saw on loan David Kerslake make his home debut at right back, while Dave Carroll and Keith Scott both returned to the starting line up following recent injuries. It was Carroll's mazey run on 21 minutes that marked the first real excitement of the afternoon - the messiah eventually running out of room as he threatened to 'do a Preston'. Oldham never troubled Taylor - a tenth minute flyer from Stuart Barlow going safely past Taylor's right hand post, being their token effort. New boy Kerslake crossed in from the right on 26 minutes but Carroll's hooked shot was easily saved by Gary Kelly in the Latics goal as the half trailed out goalless.
Half-time 0-0
The second-half was a feast of goal-mouth action compared to recent games. Kerslake let fly from the right edge of the box after just 3 minutes but it whistled just wide of the opposite upright. On 54 minutes, however, Wycombe broke the deadlock when a firm ball out from the left side of the Wycombe defence found both Stallard and Scott in space in front of the Oldham area - SCOTT darted in front of Stallard and tucked the ball past Kelly and into the Valley End net. Oldham's best spell followed the goal with three quick corners bringing concern to Wycombe fans but the defence survived. On 59 minutes Wycombe broke free and Scott's clever angled pass from the right side of midfield found Stallard whose goalbound shot was tipped around by Kelly. Oldham had strong claims for a penalty turned away on 65 minutes when McCarthy dived to save on his own line but did so without using his hands (which was nice). While Oldham were still complaining Wycombe broke again with Kelly repeating his earlier save from another Stallard effort on the left. McGavin saw a shot deflected over on 67 minutes before disaster struck for Wycombe. You could almost hear the home fans groan as one, as first Kavanagh played the ball back to Martin Taylor from his own bye-line, Taylor completely mis-kicked the ball into the back-side of McCarthy and Stuart BARLOW was extremely grateful to knock in the loose ball (bugger). To Wycombe's credit the players continued to battle and luck finally shone our way in the 83rd minute. Steve McGavin was denied a free-kick in the left corner after Paul Rickers had tried to remove the Wycombe players shirt but from the resulting throw-in Kavanagh found Brown, he fed McGAVIN and with back to goal shielded, swivelled and then stabbed the ball towards goal where an evil deflection off Rickers took the ball over Kelly and in off the base of the far post. (Marvellous).

Full-time Wycombe 2 Oldham 1
WYCOMBE TEAM: Taylor, Kerslake, Kavanagh, Ryan, McCarthy, Forsyth, Carroll, Scott, Stallard (sub 89 Harkin), McGavin, Brown subs not used Cousins and Simpson Att:5,327

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Tuesday 2nd December - Division Two

Wycombe came away from their first ever visit to Blundell Park with a well deserved point and could have had all three. An in-form Grimsby side, who had scored 13 times in their previous 3 home games, failed to deliver in near freezing conditions and Wycombe finished the game the more likely to score. John Gregory stuck with the side that drew with Bournemouth on Saturday - with Scott still on the bench and Dave Carroll not yet fit. The draw extends Wycombe run to 10 games without a win and placed precariously in 16th place just 2 points clear of the relegation zone.
A brief cloudburst 10 minutes before kick-off followed by a hail-storm made the early going difficult for the players. Wycombe, playing with five across the back, had an early scare when Tony Gallimore floated in a cross from the left wing on 5 minutes where Lee Nogan's connecting header looped over Taylor but thankfully onto the roof of the net. Wycombe's best chance of the half came on 23 minutes when a cross was whipped in from the right bye-line and Stallard's first time effort at the near post was forced away. Taylor did well to grab Kevin Jobling's long range shot at the second attempt on 28 minutes before Cornforth's curling free-kick two minutes later at the other end was a yard too high. Nogan had a couple more chances for the home side before the break - the second of which Taylor diverted away with his elbow when the ball bobbled at the last moment.
Half-time 0-0
Wycombe had the better of the second-half but a lack of sharpness in front of goal cost the chance of an unlikely victory. Within a minute of the restart Cornforth picked out Stallard with a free-kick but the top scorer didn't get enough on the ball to beat Aidan Davison in the home goal. Steve Brown also wasted a chance when he was put through by Ryan on 62 minutes - Brown rushing the shot when he had more time. Wycombe's best chance came and went in a flash with 15 minutes remaining. Cornforth found Stallard again about 10 yards out but the ball flew off his chest and Grimsby were grateful to clear their lines. Three corners in a minute for the Wanderers culminated in a near bizzare match winner with just five minutes on the clock. Cornforth's three deliveries were eventually cleared but only as far as Nicky Mohan whose half-hit shot from outside of the Grimsby area took a wicked deflection off a home player before Davison saved the blushes by saving to his right. The 100 or so Wycombe fans who braved the conditions at Cleethorpes shared appreciation with the Wycombe players at the final whistle before embarking on the 200 mile home journey, cold but satisfied with the point.

Full-time 0-0
WYCOMBE TEAM: Taylor, Cousins, Kavanagh, Ryan, Mohan, Forsyth, McCarthy, Cornforth, Stallard, McGavin, Brown subs not used Scott, Harkin and Beeton Att:4,160
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