Bailey bails out Gillingham

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The Independent Online

Wycombe Wanderers 1 Gillingham 1

Hitchin Town will have to wait to discover who will be their next giant- killing targets after Wycombe and Gillingham battled out a bruising draw in their FA Cup first-round tie at Adams Park last night.

A series of heavy challenges did not augur well for entertainment and it was 10 minutes before an attempt on goal - a tame header from Miguel de Souza - and another 10 before either goalkeeper was extended.

The threat again came from De Souza, this time with an overhead kick, and it was the ample frame of Jim Stannard which was stretched. The 16- stone Gillingham goalkeeper made two more good saves, from Simon Garner and David Carroll, within five minutes as Wycombe began to take command.

The Second Division club almost went ahead seven minutes before the break, Terry Howard meeting Carroll's corner at the near post only for his header to go just past the far post.

Wycombe, though unbeaten in 13 league matches, had lost 5-0 to Walsall in their last outing, in the Auto Windscreens Shield. At half-time in that match Alan Smith, their manager, was so angry he had sent the team back on to the pitch for the duration of the interval.

It was a memory that must have crossed several minds as, in first-half injury-time, Dennis Bailey was left unmarked from Dominic Naylor's cross. Fortunately for the Wycombe players - it was a cold night - the striker put his header wide.

Eleven minutes after the break Wycombe's worries eased as Stannard was finally beaten. David Farrell pulled the ball back and Gary Patterson curled a left-foot shot into the top corner of the stationary goalkeeper's net.

De Souza almost made it two with a sharp header a minute later but Patterson was then fortunate not to ruin his night when he appeared to punch Mark Harris off the ball. Luckily for him the referee, Dermot Gallagher, who had an inconsistent game, missed it.

As Gillingham pushed forward, the game opened up. Paul Hyde made good saves from Mark O'Connor and Neil Smith while Stannard denied Jason Rowbotham and De Souza at the other end.

Gillingham brought on two strikers, David Puttnam and Darren Freeman, in an attempt to level the tie and, with 10 minutes left, they were rewarded when Puttnam's cross was tapped in by Bailey.

Wycombe Wanderers (4-4-2): Hyde; Rowbotham, Cousins, Howard, Bell; Carroll, Patterson, Brown, Farrell; Garner, De Souza. Substitutes not used: Williams, McGavin, Soloman.

Gillingham (4-4-2): Stannard; Micklewhite (Puttnam, 72), Harris, Green, Naylor; Smith, Ratcliffe, Martin, O'Connor; Rattray (Freeman, 79), Bailey. Substitute not used: Dunne.

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).