Wycombe Wanderers F.C.
FA Cup Reports 1997/98

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Saturday 15th November - 1st Round Proper

After predictions of goals galore, Wycombe can count their lucky stars that they are still in this season's FA Cup. Professionalism, commitment and passion would not be words you would use to describe the latest Wanderers performance. After leading 2-0 with just over an hour gone, Wycombe threw away the lead against the Isthmian League outfit and it could have been much worse had a 89th minute chip not sailed over Martin Taylor's bar. The FA Cup is the time of cliches galore but let's get things into perspective - Basingstoke are near the bottom of the Isthmian League and this would have been a bad result when Wycombe were in the Conference let alone a Football League Division Two side. Wycombe will now have to overcome a replay against Ernie Howe's side - scheduled for Tuesday 25th November at the 6,000 capacity 'Camrose' ground.
John Cornforth returned to the starting eleven for the cup tie against the Hampshire side who have never beaten a Football League club in the FA Cup. It was a CORNFORTH free-kick on 16 minutes that broke the deadlock. Dave Carroll dummied and the Welshman placed the ball with pin point accuracy into the opposite right hand corner of the Basingstoke net to ease Wycombe nerves after a shakey start. Earlier after 10 minutes Town had a penalty appeal turned down when Paul Coombs was shrugged off the ball by Ryan as he powered in from the left and seconds later the same player was pulled up for offside. Caroll picked up a rare booking on 25 minutes when he paced out 10 yards for a Wycombe free-kick. Referee Paul Alcock didn't see the funny side and to cap a miserable day for Carroll he was forced off with an injury shortly afterwards. On 31 minutes Town's Nigel Emsden forced Taylor to save but Wycombe could have increased the lead five minutes later when a Cornforth free-kick was met by McGavin at the far post but Dean Beale in the Basingstoke goal saved well.
Half-time Wycombe 1 Basingstoke 0
Wycombe continued to struggle in the second-half. Maurice Harkin saw a 25 yarder fly just wide on 53 minutes but chances were rare. Wycombe increased the lead with a slightly fortunate penalty - a series of close range shots on the right side of the Basingstoke goal ending with the referee pointing to the spot for handball. CORNFORTH stepped up to smartly sidefoot the ball home and at 2-0 that should have been curtains for the non-League team. Yet Wycombe, with a midfield devoid of an injured Carroll and a suspended Brown, struggled to string two passes together. The alarm bells started to ring on 68 minutes when the Wycombe defence was split by a midfield ball and Paul COOMBS drove his shot past Taylor from 15 yards that cannoned in off the underside of the bar. From then on Basingstoke were quite simply the better side and with 15 minutes remaining Paul WILKINSON made it a day to rememeber for the 1000 plus who travelled up from Hampshire when his free-kick, from an almost identical position as Cornforth's first-half effort, went through the five man Wycombe wall and under the body of Martin Taylor. Wycombe could do nothing to respond. By the end of the 90 minutes it was Wycombe fans who were glad to hear the final whistle and those who stayed until the end gave the Basingstoke players a standing ovation for their efforts.
Let's hope Wycombe have learnt their lesson after this embarassing display. Even substitute Alan Beeton didn't have number on his shirt when he came on for McGavin - are we really that broke? Sort it out Wycombe, drag the players in for Sunday training, starting with passing the ball to each other and then moving on to hitting the target from more than 12 yards out.
The replay has been set for Tuesday 25th November - see the below for full details.
Full-time Wycombe 2 Basingstoke 2
THE GUILTY MEN: Taylor, Cousins, Kavanagh, Ryan, Mohan, Cornforth, Carroll (sub 36 Simpson), Scott, Read, McGavin (sub 77 Beeton), Harkin subs not used Hodson, Wraight, Parkin Att:3,932
BASINGSTOKE WON 5-4 on penalties
Tuesday 15th November - 1st Round Proper Replay

This goes down as one of the worst results and performances in the 100 year plus history of Wycombe Wanderers and there were no excuses despite the final outcome being settled on penalties. Wycombe again led in normal time but were outplayed for the majority of the two hours of torture for Wycombe fans at the Camrose Ground. The inquests into this defeat will run and run and its difficult to know where to start other than saying that Wycombe 'bottled it'. This was a showing on par with the defeat to the Metropolitan Police in 1990 but at least we got Martin O'Neill as a result of that reverse - where we go after this shambles is anyones guess. You would have thought that Wycombe would have learnt after the first game, yet this was worse and left many Wycombe fans stunned and speechless after the game. Basingstoke earned more applause from the Wycombe fans at the end and go on to meet Northampton in the next round. The prospects for Wycombe now rest heavily on the ability of John Gregory and Richard Hill to ruthlessly drum in some discipline and conviction into the players for the long season ahead.
Wycombe fielded two changes from the side that lost at Ashton Gate on Saturday - Michael Forsyth returning after injury and Paul McCarthy returning in defence ahead of Jason Kavanagh. Keith Ryan moved into midfield and John Cornforth played somewhere between midfield and upfront but like most of the Wycombe players he wasn't prepared to battle when the need came.
Wycombe survived several early scares in front of record 5,000 plus attendance at Town's compact ground before taking the lead on 16 minutes. Steve Brown played a short ball to Steve McGAVIN on the edge of the Basingstoke box and he clipped the ball over 'keeper Dean Beale to give Wycombe the edge. The goal silenced the locals but they were given a lifeline following another crass Wycombe defensive error. Paul McCarthy played a free-kick for offside directly to Basingstoke's Simon Line who played the ball back into the Wycombe half where Taylor came, mis-kicked to Paul COOMBS, and the Town top scorer watched with delight as his shot sailed past the Wycombe 'keeper on 40 minutes. McCarthy was replaced by Kavanagh at the break - was he injured or was he pushed?
Half-time 1-1
The second-half followed a similar pattern as Basingstoke exploited Wycombe's defence by continually playing the high balls into the box - but somehow we survived. McGavin had a good chance on 63 minutes but Beale did enough with his legs in a 50/50 challenge. It was Beale's mistake, however, that gave Wycombe another undeserved lead on 75 minutes. Brown picked up his poor clearance on the left, played to McGAVIN and from a narrow angle gave Wycombe the lead that should have been curtains for the part-timers. Moments later as Basingstoke pushed for another equaliser McGavin broke away on the left but Scott headed over, with Kavanagh furious that the striker had not let the ball travel. Basingstoke equalised with just five minutes of normal time remaining. Keith Ryan was adjudged to have handled Wilkinson's cross and Paul COOMBS thundered in the penalty to set up extra-time.
90 minutes 2-2
Wycombe's superior fitness failed to show in any shape or form in extra-time and it was the home side who looked more likely to score. No further goals brought the dreaded penalty shoot-out where, with the home side going first and kicking towards the Wycombe supporters, knocked in the final nails into Wycombe's coffin. They dispatched all five of their spot-kicks with ease (take note Gareth Southgate) through Simon LINE, Alan CAREY, Nigel EMSDEN, Paul WILKINSON and Paul COOMBS while Wycombe replyed through CORNFORTH, McGAVIN, BROWN and READ before Keith Scott was left with the unfortunate burden of the final kick that was saved by Beale. Scotty collapsed to the ground and with it Wycombe's season now goes into emergency status.
Final Score
Basingstoke 2 Wycombe 2
THE GUILTY MEN: Taylor, Cousins (sub 117 Simpson), Beeton (sub 117 Read), Ryan, Mohan, Forsyth, McCarthy (sub 45 Kavanagh), Scott, Cornforth, McGavin, Brown subs not used Simpson, Parkin Att:5,085
All match reports © 1997 Chairboys on the Net - Not to be reproduced without our very kind permission
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