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February 1998 Reports
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Wycombe 0 Brentford 0 - Sat 7th Feb 1997 - Division 2 >>
Northampton Town 2 Wycombe 0 - Tues 10th Feb 1997 - Division 2 >>
Wycombe 2 Burnley 0 - Sat 14th Feb 1997 - Division 2 >>
Preston 1 Wycombe 1 - Sat 21st Feb 1997 - Division 2 >>
Bristol Rovers 3 Wycombe 1 - Tues 24th Feb 1997 - Division 2 >>
Wycombe 1 Gillingham 0 - Sat 28th Feb 1997 - Division 2 >> 
Saturday 28th February - Division Two

A single first-half headed goal by Keith Ryan was enough to earn Wycombe three valuable points and get caretaker Manager Neil Smillie off to a winning start. With Paul McCarthy out injured Ryan was made Captain and celebrated with his first League goal for nearly two years. In a spirited display by Wycombe with Jason Cousin taking the unusual role of central defender, it was Wycombe's midfield that was a revelation compared to recent games. Beating an in-form Gillingham side was no mean feat and if Wycombe and Neil Smillie can build on this result then the relegation blues can be put to bed for another season at least.
With the home fans right behind the team, Wycombe were all at sea for the first 14 minutes but then the game sprung to life. Wycombe forced four quick corners after McGavin looked lively on the left. It was McGavin who had an effort on 20 minutes pushed away for yet another corner by Jim Stannard in the Gills goal from which Cousins should have done better when presented with a free header. Wycombe's goal came on 29 minutes and followed a free-kick deep out on the left side of the Gillingham midfield. Carroll swung the ball in and Keith RYAN stooped in to claim a memorable goal at the far post. Taylor saved a close range effort from Steve Butler on 35 minutes as the visitors pushed for an equaliser without success before the break
Half-time Wycombe 1 Gills 0
Gillingham, who had beaten Watford, Bristol City and Northampton, must have been a major disappointment for their travelling fans. Taylor was rarely troubled to any serious extent and Wycombe had numerous chances to extend the lead. Six minutes into the second-half Scotty was hauled down by Adrian Pennock and after the Gills defender was booked, Carroll gave Stannard a juggling lesson. The Gills introduced Iffy Onuora with 25 minutes left on the clock as Wycombe's ten man defence did an efficient shut-out job and attacked on the break. On 72 minutes Wycombe broke through Scotty and after a neat exchange, Kavanagh placed just over. Four minutes later Brown picked up a through ball from the right but Stannard blocked again. With just three minutes left Scotty came in from the right before laying off to Carroll, who weaved in but slotted just wide of the Gills post. It was nail-biting stuff at the end but Wycombe were well worth the three points and it provided just the tonic for the shell-shocked Wycombe fans and players.

Full-time Wycombe 1 Gillingham 0
WYCOMBE TEAM:Taylor, Kerslake, Kavanagh, Ryan, Cousins, Mohan, Carroll, Scott, Stallard, McGavin, Brown subs not used:Harkin, Beeton and Simpson Att:5,583
Tuesday 24th February - Division Two

In what turned out to be John Gregory's last match in charge, Wycombe were well beaten by an impressive Bristol Rovers side out to get revenge for their 1-0 defeat at Adams Park back in October. Wycombe survived until half-time without conceeding mainly thanks to the efforts of Martin Taylor but all but collapsed after the break. The second-half was barely five minutes old when Peter Beadle's 25 yard shot was kept out by Taylor at full stretch, only for the rebound to be struck home by ex-Stevenage striker Barry HAYLES. Four minutes later it was 2-nil after Hayles crossed from the left for BEADLE to head home. Inbetween the goals, injuries to Steve McGavin and Paul McCarthy forced Wycombe into two rapid substitutions as the Wanderers re-organised. Cureton missed from close-in for Rovers before Wycombe were given a surprise lifeline. Substitute Mo Harkin made a bounding run down the right wing which ended with Keith SCOTT heading back in at the far post. Any chances of a Wycombe revival were quashed, however, with nine minutes left on the clock. Rovers forced a series of corners and from the fourth Stephen Foster headed against the bar only for Tom RAMASUT to drive home from the edge of the Wycombe box. Hayles nearly added another in the dying minutes as Wycombe had no answers for the attack minded Rovers side.
Wycombe started the game fielding another unchanged line-up - Jason Cousins retaining his place ahead of loan player David Kerslake. Paul McCarthy surely set some form of Club record when he was booked after just 25 seconds for a foul on Hayles. Rovers had all the early play with chances from Penrice, Beadle and Hayles setting the pattern for the evening. Wycombe's first worthwhile effort came on 14 minutes after Brown's cross eluded Stallard and Cousins put over. Carroll led a break-away minutes later but his final ball to Scott at the far post was too high. Jamie Cureton should have given Rovers the lead on 19 minutes but he blasted over. David Pritchard forced Taylor to tip over on 20 minutes as Wycombe struggled to develop any notable moves and continued to give the ball away too cheaply. Wycombe survived until the break but with the injuries to McGavin and McCarthy the writing was on the wall as soon as Rovers had taken the lead.
It's all getting very tight at the bottom of the table with results elsewhere seeing a host of clubs now on 34 and 35 points at the bottom of the table - Wycombe remain in 14th place on 40 points.

Full-time Rovers 3 Wycombe 1
WYCOMBE TEAM:Taylor, Cousins, Kavanagh, Ryan, McCarthy (sub 53 Kerslake), Mohan, Carroll, Scott, Stallard, McGavin (sub 51 Harkin), Brown (sub 60 Simpson) Att:5,805
Saturday 21st February - Division Two

After taking the lead on the hour mark, Wycombe conceeded within a few minutes to waste the chance of earning their third away win of the season. Fielding an unchanged line-up to the one that overcame Burnley at Adams Park, Wycombe came through a goalless first-half that had little to write home about. Wycombe's goal came after Cousins exchanged with McGavin on the right edge of the Preston box and Steve BROWN jumped at the chance to fire home from close range. The home side equalised four minutes later when substitute Habib Sissoko linked with Dean Barrick, whose chip was looped over Martin Taylor by the head of another Preston sub, Jon MACKEN. It could have been worse for Wycombe as they survived a late onslaught but this was a good point and keeps the Wanderers in 14th place in the table.
The first-half was really dire stuff with the home side showing briefly on 14 minutes when they forced a corner. Wycombe responded almost immediately, however, when a move out from defence ended with a Keith Scott effort being forced wide for a corner after Brown had set the striker up from the left. Wycombe's only other noteworthy effort in the first-half came on 36 minutes when Jason Kavanagh picked up a pass from Steve McGavin on the left, then exchanged with Stallard before sending a shot across the face of the Preston goal. Preston came strong in the dying minutes of the first-half with Ashcroft providing Kurt Nogan with a chance.
Half-time 0-0
Wycombe started the second-half well and could have taken the lead after 53 minutes after a period of extended pressure. A corner by Dave Carroll was snapped at by McGavin but his effort was hooked off the line by the Preston 'keeper. Wycombe's goal after 60 minutes was reward for the pressure and 'Brownie' surpassed his celebration from the previous week by climbing the advertising boards and waving to the building site behind the goal. But with dreams of three points and play-offs barely given the chance to develop, the home side equalised. It got a bit scrappy in the closing stages as Wycombe sensed that the home side might snatch it. Mohan was booked after he miss-controlled and then jumped in to try and retrieve the situation from Macken. Wycombe stood reasonably solid, however, but were glad to hear the final whistle and stay above Preston in the table.

Full-time Preston 1 Wycombe 1
WYCOMBE TEAM:Taylor, Cousins, Kavanagh, Ryan, McCarthy, Mohan, Carroll, Scott, Stallard (sub 80 Harkin), McGavin, Brown subs not used: Kerslake, Simpson. Att:7,665
Saturday 14th February - Division Two

Wycombe fought to a well deserved victory in an entertaining encounter with 19th placed Burnley. The Keith Scott inspired victory saw a goal in each half by the Wanderers to ease the relegation worries. However, an 88th minute goal by Burnley brought back the jitters but the three points were not to be denied. This vital victory lifts Wycombe to 14th place in the table with the trip to Preston to come next week.
With the news that John Cornforth has gone on loan to Peterborough, Wycombe started with two changes to the team that had lost at Northampton in the week - Jason Cousins coming in for the suspended Simspon and Mo Harkin losing his place to the returning Keith Scott. Wycombe forced a corner within the first two minutes but nearly fell behind moments later when Martin Taylor, awarded the Player of the Month before the game, scooped up an easy looking shot but it went safe. Burnley's near 1,500 following were encouraged by an ambitious Burnley team but Wycombe had the more clear cut chances. On 22 minutes Scotty squared for Stallard after a breakaway but the out of form striker took too long to shoot. A minute later Glen Little set up Andy Payton with a clear shot at the Wycombe goal but he missed the target. Keith Ryan put Taylor in trouble on 26 minutes but Payton couldn't capitalise on the free ball and Taylor pushed the ball away. Wycombe's opener came on 32 minutes when McGavin set off down the right before squaring for BROWN who played a one-two with Stallard before striking home inside the box. It was Wycombe's first goal for 327 minutes and was just the boost the players and fans needed. Burnley could have levelled on 38 minutes, however, when Little hit the bar from 25 yards and Andy Cooke just failed to hit the target with a desperate follow up header.
Half-time 1-0
Wycombe went all out for a second goal after the break and Scott could have scored on 51 minutes when McGavin put him through but Beresford saved well in front of the Valley End. Wycombe got the vital second goal after 12 minutes of the second-half. Brown won the ball in midfield and Cousins eventually found himself bearing down on goal from the right but his shot was pushed wide for a corner on the right. Dave Carroll swept in the corner and Paul McCARTHY powered in a header that was adjudged to have crossed the line - it looked well over and their were no disputes from Burnley. Scotty received a standing ovation when he was replaced by Harkin with 16 minutes left as Wycombe seemed to be cruising to victory. The nerves starting jangling when Payton's looping effort went over Taylor and COOKE was on hand to stab home ahead of Carroll with 90 seconds left on the clock. Then with 90 minutes all but up Little put a shot fractionally wide of the post as Wycombe were glad to hear the final whistle.
Full-time Wycombe 2 Burnley 1
WYCOMBE TEAM:Taylor, Cousins, Kavanagh, Ryan, McCarthy, Mohan, Carroll, Scott (sub 74 Harkin), Stallard (sub 85 Read), McGavin, Brown sub not used Beeton. Att:5,926 (looked a lot more!)
Tuesday 10th February - Division Two
The best news for Wycombe fans this week is that Keith Scott is nearing fitness, after the Wanderers made it 294 minutes without scoring a goal, following defeat at Northampton on Tuesday evening. Wycombe conceeded two second-half goals, the first a penalty, after a very tame first forty-five. Again it was Wycombe's lack of ambition up front that cost them the chance of taking anything from this game - Maurice Harkin being the only Wycombe player keen enough to take strike at goal - Mark Stallard once again non-existent. The home side move to fourth place in the table after their victory while Wycombe stay in 17th place as Burnley are awaited as the next visitors to Adams Park in a crucial game for both clubs.
Fielding an unchanged line-up to the one that drew 0-0 with Brentford on Saturday, Wycombe contained the home side with ease during the first-half. Only dangerman David Seal threatened the Wycombe goal, hitting the side netting after only 6 minutes and then 10 minutes later seeing a long ranger picked-up with ease by Martin Taylor. Playing for the first time at the drab Sixfields Stadium, Wycombe took until the 33rd minute to create a serious opening when, after forcing a corner, Carroll floated the ball in from the right for ex-Cobbler Steve Brown to glance fractionally wide of the target at the far post. A poor first-half ended goal-less.
Half-time 0-0
The second-half was infinitely better than the first. Within two minutes of the re-start Harkin saw a high cross-cum-shot from the left wing almost deceive Andy Woodman in the home goal but he managed to push the ball onto the top of the box-style nets. Simpson's corner from the left caused a few problems but the Northampton defence thrashed the ball away as a good travelling contingent from Wycombe sensed a possible shock. With the home fans also beginning to wake from their slumber, James Hunt drove a low shot past Taylor's right-hand post after 51 minutes and the same player saw a half-volley sail just wide two minutes later as Wycombe began to struggle. Northampton took the lead on 58 minutes via a penalty when Chris Freestone was bundled over in the box by Nicky Mohan. After a two minute delay, David SEAL stepped up to calmly send Taylor the wrong way with his right foot. Looking at the decision on video, it looked extremely harsh but the referee was standing with a few feet and therefore had the better view. Wycombe had the chance to equalise within a minute when Carroll picked out a ball on the right and sensibly laid it back to Harkin standing just inside the area. The youngster hit a near perfect shot to the top corner but Woodman did well to palm it up and over for a corner. Wycombe's night began to fall apart as Brown was booked just over the hour mark and then on 68 minutes Chris FREESTONE scored a well taken goal from the right after a long ball out of defence with Wycombe claiming offside. That was good-night for Wycombe and despite late efforts from substitutes Read (a flick header) and Cornforth (a well placed and even better saved shot), the Wanderers went home empty handed and wondering where the next goal is coming from. Get well soon Scotty!

Full-time Northampton 2 Wycombe 0
WYCOMBE TEAM:Taylor, Kavanagh, Simpson (sub 75 Cornforth), Ryan, McCarthy, Mohan, Carroll, Harkin, Stallard, McGavin (sub 75 Read), Brown sub not used Cousins. Att:5,302
Saturday 7th February - Division Two

Wycombe lacked that final killer instinct to dispose of a poor Brentford side at Adams Park. Neither goalkeeper was overworked but Wycombe had the best chance to win the game when Jason Kavanagh saw a low shot turned onto the post in the second-half. It was Wycombe's eighth 0-0 draw of the season - five of those at Adams Park - and is just enough to keep the Wanderers in 17th place in the table with 36 points from 30 games.
Wycombe, kicking towards the Valley End in the first-half, had the better of the opening stages. On 21 minutes Michael Simpson floated in a deep free-kick from the right for Mohan to nod back and McCarthy justed failed to redirect goalwards with his head. Three minutes later Wycombe had a strong claim for a penalty turned down when Jamie Bates looked to have slapped the ball away for a corner with his hand - Bates subsequently needing treatment for a cut face (very strange). Brown fell head first in the area on 32 minutes after being challenged but their were no serious claims from the Wycombe players for a spot-kick. Wycombe's best chance of the first half came on 35 minutes when McGavin laid the ball out to Simpson as he ran in from the right, but his shot curled away from the target and added to the frustration of the Wycombe crowd.
Half-time 0-0
A weaving run by Harkin 12 minutes into the second-half ended with a delicately placed shot but it sailed marginally wide of the top corner of the Brentford goal. A rare chance for Brentford fell to their No.9 on 62 minutes as a backpass to Taylor was left short but the Wycombe 'keeper was quick to block the danger. Wycombe's golden chance came on 68 minutes when Kavanagh played a ball to McGavin on the right side of the Brentford area. McGavin played a neat back-heel that Kavanagh latched onto only for Brentford 'keeper Michael Pollit to turn superbly onto his right-hand upright. The introduction of Paul Read for the disappointing Simpson with 15 minutes left couldn't inspire Wycombe to the needed victory and it was Brentford who could have snatched it late on - Robert Taylor hitting a first time volley from the right but his namesake in the Wycombe goal collected with ease.
Wycombe will see this as two points dropped, especially considering that Brentford have yet to win away from home this season. More worrying for Wycombe is the lack of fire power with all the strikers off form or injured. Mark Stallard was virtually anonomous up front and the balls from midfield lacked any imagination. With danger of being labelled a "whinger and moaner" by Club officials, Wycombe can't survive the season on 0-0's and it needs more ambition from the current players instead of continually playing safe against teams that are generally no better than the Wanderers. We know there is very little money to spend on new players but we also know that the present squad are more than capable of turning it on - predicting when is another matter!

Full-time Wycombe 0 Brentford 0
WYCOMBE TEAM:Taylor, Kavanagh, Simpson (sub 75 Read), Ryan, McCarthy, Mohan, Carroll, Harkin, Stallard, McGavin, Brown subs not used Cousins and Cornforth. Att:6,328

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