|March 1998 Reports
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Tue 3rd March 1998 - Wycombe 1 York City 1 - Division Two
Sat 7th March 1998 - Luton Town 0 Wycombe 0 - Division Two
Sat 14th March 1998 - Wycombe 5 Plymouth 1 - Division Two
Sat 21st March 1998 - Wrexham 2 Wycombe 0 - Division Two
Sat 28th March 1998 - Wycombe 1 Bristol City 2 - Division Two
WYCOMBE 1 BRISTOL CITY 2
Saturday 28th March 1998 - Division Two
Wycombe fans were left totally gutted after a crass defensive mix-up five minutes from time let the promotion favourites take all three points from their visit to Adams Park. Wycombe fell behind three minutes before the break but Wycombe fought back in the second-half. A sweeping move after 57 minutes ended with Mo Harkin scoring from close range and set up an exciting finale. The game looked to be heading for a draw when a City move down the left culminated in a harmless looking cross being left by Jason Kavanagh for Martin Taylor (did he call for it?) but Taylor wasn't there and the ball was headed home to delight the travelling Robins fans.
Wycombe were without Jason Cousins, who completed his two match suspension and Michael Forsyth joined Paul McCarthy on the injured list. John Cornforth returned to the starting line-up for the first time since December, with Mo Harkin unlucky to be demoted to the substitutes bench. Wycombe made the obligatory slow start as City threatened to swamp the Wanderers in the opening stages. Wycombe began to find their feet after 14 minutes, however, when Beeton forced a corner. Three minutes later Stallard broke down the right and crossed for McGavin on the opposite side. McGavin's squared the ball back to Scott but he hesitated and the final shot was deflected wide. City looked dangerous when they attacked but as with the game at Wrexham, Taylor was rarely called into serious action. On 25 minutes Beeton was caught out by Adam Locke and his cross was met by a flick header by Shaun McCarthy but it was off target. Substitute Mo Harkin, on for the injured McGavin, nearly gave Scott the opportunity to head Wycombe into the lead moments later but Scotty was having an off-day. On 30 minutes Stallard stormed down the left and crossed low for Scott - all he had to do was to pick his place but he sliced wide and collapsed in shame. Not quite as bad his Watford miss but certainly in there as No.2 clanger of the season. City took the lead just as Wycombe looked confortable in holding the promotion chasers. Colin CRAMB was the killjoy when he whipped in a 25 yarder from a position similar to Scotty's goal against Plymouth. Yet again a looping shot catching out Martin Taylor.
Half-Time Wycombe 0 City 1
Wycombe could have fallen further behind 4 minutes into the second-half when Cramb came in from the right but he drove into the side netting. From then on though Wycombe more than held their own. On 53 minutes after a trio of wild challenges on Wycombe players the referee condescended to give a free-kick for an assault on Steve Brown. Cornforth placed the kick high towards the top right hand corner but the City 'keeper Keith Welch palmed the ball to safety. Four minutes later Wycombe were level with a well crafted goal. A series of passes on the Wycombe left saw Stallard come into the box before setting up HARKIN to stab in for the equaliser. It was no less than Wycombe deserved and set up an exciting but ultimately disappointing finish. Stallard fired over with his back to goal on 73 minutes and five minutes later Scott and Stallard wasted another chance when they failed to convert after Harkin had provided from midfield. Disaster struck for Wycombe with just five minutes left when CRAMB was extremely grateful to head home after Kavanagh and Taylor turned the air blue at the Valley End. It was difficult to take and to make it worse Mohan hit the post in the dying moments. Neil Smillie was left kicking the dug-out in anger as Wycombe wasted the chance to grab vital points.
Full-Time Wycombe 1 City 2
WYCOMBE TEAM:Taylor, Kavanagh, Beeton, Ryan, Cornforth, Mohan, Carroll (sub 86 Read), Scott, Stallard, McGavin (sub 19 Harkin), Brown sub not used Simpson Att:6,326
FIRST DEFEAT FOR NEIL
WREXHAM 2 WYCOMBE 0
Saturday 21st March 1998 - Division Two
Wycombe dropped back into 14th place in the table after the Wrexham hoodoo hit the Wanderers again and so ended Neil Smillie's unbeaten spell as Manager. An own-goal just before the break and another on the stroke of full-time gave the Welshman the three points and lifted them to third spot. Wycombe had their chances but it was Welsh International 'keeper Andy Marriott who frustrated the Wanderers again with another batch of first class stops. Marriott kept out first a half-strike from Stallard and another from Harkin, as Wycombe lost for the fourth time in as many games at the Racecourse ground. Both goals came after Wycombe lost possession in midfield. The first on 42 minutes followed Steve McGavin losing out and Karl Connolly crossing only for Jason Kavanagh to steer into his own net. Up until then Martin Taylor had hardly been called upon to make a save in a hectic first-half. Wycombe pressed more in the second-half but were finally undone in the final minute when Nicky Mohan lost out and David Brammer ran through before knocking the ball in low to Taylor's right.
With Jason Cousins out through suspension, Neil Smillie brought in Mo Harkin who played in an attacking midfield role. It was the youngster who had Wycombe's best chances of the game but he found Marriott in top form again. An expectant home crowd saw Wycombe dominate the early stages. On 3 minutes Marriott stood up to a Stallard effort and the ball was cleared while on 12 minutes, Keith Scott saw his header go over the Wrexham bar following a Steve Brown cross. Harkin danced around three defenders on 18 minutes but his right foot shot was kept out by Marriott. Wrexham came to life in the 21st minute when a corner caused problems for the Wanderers but Martin Taylor gathered before Brian Carey could pounce. With half-time approaching the home side began to turn the screw. On 38 minutes Dean Spink saw a volley flash just wide and then with just three minutes left to the break Steve McGavin summed out his nightmare first-half when he lost out in midfield. Karl Connolly then got the better of Ryan before his cross was turned into his own net by a despairing Jason KAVANAGH. It was a bitter blow for the Wanderers who had looked at least equal to the play-off contenders in a one-hundred mile an hour first-half.
Half-time Wrexham 1 Wycombe 0
The second-half got off to a lively start when Steve Brown and Peter Ward had a set-to - both being shown the yellow card. Wycombe did at least get the ball in the net on 49 minutes after Stallard had flicked on but Scott's effort was ruled out for offside. Another blow for Wycombe came on 52 minutes when a heavy challenge by Dean Spink on Michael Forsyth resulted in the Wycombe player hobbling off. While Wycombe played with ten men Wilson hit the side netting for Wrexham before Alan Beeton replaced the injured Forsyth. Harkin had another glorious opening on 66 minutes after Dave Carroll played him through. Harkin again skipped around a couple of defenders but Marriott was there again to deny the Wanderers the equaliser. Paul Read was introduced for the last thirteen minutes but struggled to get involved. With the game heading towards ninety minutes Ryan was hauled back by Roberts but the referee, who made some strange decisions as the game progressed, waved play-on before Ryan recovered. Brown fired just wide on 89 minutes but as Wycombe pressed for a last gasp point Nicky Mohan lost out in the centre of the pitch and David BRAMMER ran through to score and seal the points for the home side.
Full-time Wrexham 2 Wycombe 0
WYCOMBE TEAM:Taylor, Kavanagh, Ryan, Mohan, Harkin, Forsyth (sub 55 Beeton), Carroll, Scott, Stallard, McGavin (sub 77 Read), Brown sub not used Cornforth Att:4,290
THE SMILES CONTINUE
WYCOMBE 5 PLYMOUTH 1
Saturday 14th March 1998 - Division Two
Wycombe enjoyed their biggest win of the season so far with a 5-1 victory over relegation threatened Plymouth Argyle at Adams Park. Wycombe were without defender David Kerslake who joined Swindon Town after he agreed an 18 month contract with the Division One side but Jason Cousins filled the vacant right back position. Michael Forsyth returned in the centre of defence, with Paul McCarthy still injured. Neil Smillie kept faith in the Scott and Stallard strikeforce and it paid dividends as both got on the score sheet. Captain Keith Ryan also made it three goals in four games from his new forward position at corners as the Wanderers ran riot in the second-half against a ten-man Plymouth. The victory lifts Wycombe to tenth place in the table - 10 points clear of the drop zone and just 7 points short of the play-offs. Is this going to be a fairy-tale season for Neil Smillie? He was told he was the new Manager the day before the Plymouth game but asked for the announcement to be delayed until after the match. He now has eight games to prove his worth - continuing next Saturday with the visit to Wrexham.
Like the previous two home games, Wycombe started slowly and withstood some early Argyle pressure. On 5 minutes Martin Taylor blocked a low effort from Carlo Courazzin and two minutes later Taylor pulled another save from the top drawer when a cross from the Plymouth left was met by Barry Conlon - his downward header looked a certain goal but Taylor somehow got down at his left hand post to push wide for a corner. Wycombe first showed on 21 minutes when Scott came through from the right but he took too long and eventually tumbled over the in box - the looks for a penalty were in sympathy only. The move did however start a series of three corners in quick succession for the Wanderers where, from the third, Wycombe took the lead. Carroll's corner from the left was played to the near edge of the box to Steve Brown who delicately swung the ball to the far post where Keith RYAN was first in to head down and past Jon Sheffield in the Plymough goal. Another key point in the match came on 32 minutes when Mark Stallard was scythed down by Richard Logan as he ran through on goal from the half-way line - the referee played to the letter of the law and showed the red card. Brown and McGavin saw chances go begging before Argyle pulled level on the stroke of half-time. Taylor came out for a 50/50 at the feet of Mark Saunders but CORRAZZIN was on hand to blast into an empty net.
Wycombe regained the lead two minutes into the second-half when Keith SCOTT received the ball out on the left side of goal and with a neat turn and flick smashed the ball past a bemused Jon Sheffield - typical Scotty. That should have been Plymouth dead and buried but only a miraculous goal-line clearance saved another equaliser on 50 minutes. A cross from the Plymouth right saw Taylor misjudge yet another high ball and when Plymouth were given a free header from the return ball it seemed only the hands of Nicky Mohan would keep the ball out. Mohan had other ideas and headed the ball up onto the cross bar and with some added luck the ball went to safety. That save was made to look crucial two minutes later when Wycombe sealed victory. STALLARD broke free down the centre, rounded the 'keeper, re-checked and then placed home with his right foot. If Stallard made that goal look difficult, his second was completely the opposite on 75 minutes. Brown played the through ball and STALLARD looked confident as he fired in a low angled shot, beating of the challenges of the defenders just like we know he can. Paul Read got his first run out under Smillie and played a part in Wycombe's fifth goal on 83 minutes. Read dummied a cross field ball and let Dave CARROLL through to score his first goal since the final game of last season. The goal concluded a game where quite simply everything went Wycombe's way and was apt revenge for the appalling 4-2 defeat at Home Park back in November.
Full-time Wycombe 5 Plymouth 1
WYCOMBE TEAM:Taylor, Cousins, Kavanagh (sub 83 Beeton), Ryan, Forsyth, Mohan, Carroll, Scott (sub 75 Read), Stallard, McGavin (sub 83 Simpson), Brown Att:5,508
GOALLESS AGAIN AT LUTON
LUTON 0 WYCOMBE 0
Saturday 7th March - Division Two
Wycombe registered their 9th 0-0 league result of the season against a Luton side with as few ideas up front as Wycombe. The Hatters had the slightly better chances, with Dwight Marshall screwing an effort wide from the left side in the first half. Wycombe were frustrated all afternoon by an efficient Luton off-side trap and only began to show when Mo Harkin replaced Mark Stallard with 15 minutes left. Harkin combined with McGavin within a minute of stepping onto the pitch but Keith Scott headed back across goal and wide of the target. Several downpours during the game made conditions difficult but neither side looked liked scoring if they had played all weekend. Wycombe slip one place to 14th following this result, while Luton fall into the relegation zone.
Caretaker Manager Neil Smillie fielded another unchanged starting eleven with Michael Forsyth returning on the bench as the only change to the squad. On a blustery afternoon it was Luton how created the early openings kicking towards the 800 or so Wycombe fans in the cramped Oak 'Stand'. Taylor saved well to his left on 13 minutes and on 21 minutes Keith Ryan nearly lost out to Phil Gray on the edge of the Wycombe box but 'Rhino' recovered and Taylor picked up the loose ends. Marshall's golden chance came on 28 minutes - the Luton striker guilty of missing the target from eight yards as Wycombe's defence struggled to cope on the slippery surface. Wycombe did manage to get the ball in the net on 38 minutes after McGavin and Brown set up Stallard but the whistle had already gone for off-side.
Wycombe forced a rare corner ten minutes into the second-half but Carroll's effort came to nothing. In fact Luton very nearly scored from the break with Graham Alexander crossing from the right for Marshall to miss by fraction. Then on the hour mark Steve Davis headed over a good chance after Alexander's corner from the right. The introduction of Harkin on 75 minutes provided a good opportunity to impress the onlooking Northern Ireland coach Lawrie McMenemey. Scott should have hit the target from McGavin's cross after Harkin had initiated the move then with 90 minutes up McGavin set-up Harkin on the right edge of the Luton box. Harkin weaved in then choose to shoot with Scotty maybe in a better position on the left side. Wycombe finished the side more likely to score as the home fans jeered their team off and hurled abuse at the Directors.
Full-time Luton 0 Wycombe 0
WYCOMBE TEAM:Taylor, Kerslake, Kavanagh, Ryan, Cousins, Mohan, Carroll, Scott, Stallard (sub 75 Harkin), McGavin, Brown subs not used:Forsyth and Simpson Att:6,114
KEITH STRIKES AGAIN
WYCOMBE 1 YORK CITY 0
Tuesday 3rd March - Division Two
Keith Ryan struck lucky again as the Wanderers grabbed another crucial three points in the relegation battle. The single goal victory coming on the back of Saturday's victory over Gillingham, sees the Chairboys leap-frog York into 13th place in the table. Captain Rhino's strike came midway through the second-half but it could have been a different story if Martin Taylor hadn't have managed to scramble back and clear a Ryan back pass off the Wycombe goal-line earlier in the half. Wycombe looked rejuvenated again in the first-half but slippery conditions and a York side gaining confidence looked to see the game heading for a 0-0 scoreline. Ryan's goal came on 72 minutes following a Dave Carroll free-kick on the right, the York defence got tangled up and the forward roaming Ryan was only too glad to strike home from extreme close range at the far post.
Wycombe fielded an unchanged line-up to the side that won against Gillingham three days previous and attacked from the off. Jason Kavanagh raced down the left side after just two minutes before squaring to Scott who laided off to Stallard but his curling shot to the left corner of the York goal was palmed away by Mark Samways. Brown pushed his shot wide from the resulting corner and after nine minutes Kerslake's chip from the right wing almost dipped in over Samways in the York goal. The visitors first serious effort came on 21 minutes when a free-kick from the right side was floated straight in and over Taylor - thankfully the free-kick was indirect (we knew all along). Three minutes Taylor managed to push wide a low effort from the York left but Wycombe broke immediately through Stallard on the right only for the striker to come out second best with Samways, as the 'keeper raced out of his area. Kavanagh had another great run down the left after 27 minutes, beating three York defenders, before crossing low where the York defence were happy to hack the ball away for a corner. McGavin had an effort saved from the right on 31 minutes before Stallard wasted Wycombe's best chance of the half. The ball fell to Stallard on the right and as Samways back-peddled Stallard saw the goal at his mercy but screwed the chance horribly wide of the target. Taylor saved from a low shot from Marco Gabbiadini as a free-flowing first-half ended goalless.
As the rain started to get heavier Dave Carroll almost swung in a 30 yard effort 10 minutes into the second-half. The major scare for Wycombe came on 61 minutes when Ryan attempted to push the ball back to Taylor from the right side. The ball skidded past Taylor in front of a startled Valley End but the 'keeper had the pace to chase back and clear with the ball fast approaching the goalline. Wycombe's winner came after Stallard was replaced by Mo Harkin but not before York Captain Tony Barras had a goalbound effort cleared by Kerslake. Wycombe's goal on 72 minutes from RYAN lifted Wycombe again and an efficient rear-guard action saw Wycombe hold out again and take all three points.
Wycombe have now won two consecutive league games for the first time since October and only the second-time this season. Those stats emphasise Wycombe's lack of consistency this season and with ten games left who knows where the Wanderers will end up at the end of the season.
Full-time Wycombe 1 York City 0
WYCOMBE TEAM:Taylor, Kerslake, Kavanagh, Ryan, Cousins, Mohan, Carroll, Scott, Stallard (sub 66 Harkin), McGavin, Brown subs not used:Beeton and Simpson Att:3,768
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