In the Shrewsbury face-to-face we took a look back at a meeting during the 1996-97 season and we`re staying there for a meeting with the Bees in December 1996. It had been a desperate start to the season and with John Gregory trying to sort out the mess left by Alan Smith, the side had won just one away game all season. Fortunately it had come at Layer Road, home of deadly rivals Colchester United, in the first round of the F.A. Cup. The club had introduced a new all red change kit especially for the game and with the Wanderers drawn away to Barnet in the second round, the “lucky” kit was used again.
The Chairboys lost three league games in a row following the 2-1 win over the U`s but had enjoyed a morale boosting 1-0 victory against Millwall at Adams Park on the Tuesday before the cup meeting with the Bees.
There were a whole host of changes to the starting line-up with Gregory bringing in Matt Lawrence to replace Jason Kavanagh at right-back and David Farrell coming in for Terry Evans with Mickey Bell dropping to right back. Gary Patterson replaced Steve Brown in the middle of the park whilst John Williams started in place of Aston Villa loan striker Neil Davis.
The Bees included former Wanderers Paul Hardyman and Lee Hodges in their starting eleven as well as future Wycombe striker Sean Devine.
The Chairboys lined-up as follows: (4-4-2)
Matt Lawrence – Jason Cousins – Paul McCarthy – Mickey Bell
Dave Carroll – Gary Patterson – David Farrell – Steve McGavin
Miguel De Souza – John Williams
Barnet lined-up as follows: (4-4-2) Maik Taylor – Shaun Gale, Paul Hardyman, Linvoy Primus, Lee Howarth – Michael Tomlinson, Robert Codner, Paul Wilson, Phil Simpson – Sean Devine, Lee Hodges
Despite being a league below the Blues it was the hosts who took control of the game early on and they went in front after just seven minutes. Lee Hodges ran from the edge of his own box before playing the ball out to Sean Devine on the right wing. He cut inside before feeding the ball out to Phil Simpson on the left flank and he took a touch before curling the ball from outside the area over John Cheesewright and into the top right hand corner of the net.
Matt Lawrence and Miguel De Souza fired in long range efforts and Dave Carroll showed his usual close control to weave into the box but no-one was on hand to get a touch to his ball across the face of goal. With 32 minutes played the home side doubled their advantage. Paul Wilson`s cross was flicked on by Simpson to Michael Tomlinson and he touched the ball into the path of Lee Hodges and his low shot deflected off Paul McCarthy and with John Cheesewright diving the wrong way the ball tricked into the net.
Mickey Bell curled a free-kick from just outside the area over the bar five minutes later and he then forced home goalkeeper Maik Taylor into a save after being set-up by Carroll. The man nicknamed ‘Jesus` again provided the supply for both Lawrence and David Farrell but they couldn`t direct their headers on target and the Chairboys went into the half-time interval trailing 2-0.
The second half began with the visitors showing increasing signs of frustration and both Paul McCarthy and Steve McGavin were shown yellow cards. With 59 minutes played Wycombe were back in the game. Farrell controlled McCarthy`s ball out of defence with his chest on the half-way line and turned Shaun Gale before running at the home defence. He laid the ball into De Souza who was immediately tackled by Tomlinson. The loose ball ran for Steve McGavin just outside the area and he smashed the ball low past Taylor and into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Mo Harkin was then thrown into the action, making his Wycombe debut and within a minute they were level. De Souza fed the ball out to McGavin on the left wing and raced away before teasing Gale and whipping in a cross to the far post where John Williams climbed highest to send a looping header over Taylor and into the net to make it 2-2. It was now a typically exciting F.A. Cup tie for the 3,176 fans inside Underhill.
The Bees were still a threat particularly through Devine and he was denied by Cheesewright after 63 minutes, the goalkeeper racing quickly out of his goal to claim the ball. With 68 minutes on the clock Barnet regained the lead. Taylor`s goal kick reached Tomlinson on the right edge of the area and he squared the ball to Devine who beat Jason Cousins before shooting low past Cheesewright and into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Incredibly the Wanderers were not finished and came back to level the scores at 3-3 after 77 minutes. Matt Lawrence whipped in a right-wing cross that was flicked on by De Souza and Williams slid in to tuck the ball into the net. Cue wild celebrations amongst the 1,000 or so Chairboys in the temporary open stand at the foot of the Underhill slope. Devine almost won it for the Bees in the final minute but his shot whistled just past the post.
The replay was shown live on Sky and Wycombe ran out 3-2 winners with goals from John Williams, Dave Carroll and Miguel De Souza. Sadly the cup run ended in the third round with a 2-0 defeat to Bradford City on a frosty Sunday afternoon at Adams Park.