Stannard in Wycombe's way

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The Independent Online

Wycombe Wanderers 1 Gillingham 1

Frank Bruno had the night off but Sky was still showing a heavyweight champion last night. Jim Stannard, who weighs in at 16 stone, was the hero in a bruising FA Cup first-round draw between Wycombe Wanderers and Gillingham at Adams Park.

While Gillingham's vociferous supporters chanted "Big Fat, Big Fat Jim," Stannard showed an agility that denied his bulk as he earned a replay a week today.

Stannard, who was signed on a free transfer during the summer from Fulham, conducted a personal duel with Miguel de Souza. He made a quartet of impressive saves from the highly-rated striker and also denied David Carroll, Simon Garner and Jason Rowbotham - but even he was unable to reach a curling 25-yard shot after 56 minutes from Gary Patterson.

That looked to have won Wycombe a second-round home tie with their former Isthmian League rivals, Hitchin, but Gillingham responded by bringing on two forwards, Darren Freeman and David Puttnam. With 10 minutes left they were rewarded when Puttnam dribbled down the left before crossing for the lively Dennis Bailey to score at the far post.

Bailey, who was celebrating his 30th birthday, had been with Alan Smith, the Wycombe manager, at Crystal Palace. "He has ability. Not many players in his division would have seen the opportunity," Smith said.

Smith almost signed Stannard during the summer and he added: "No one needs to tell me how good he is. He could play at a higher level."

The presence of live television coverage, for only the second time in either club's history, ensured a lively game. However, a series of heavy challenges - there were eight bookings - did not equate with entertainment and it was not until Patterson's goal that the match opened up.

Wycombe were disappointed not to have won but at least it was an improvement on their last outing - a 5-0 Auto Windscreens Shield defeat at Walsall. On that night Smith was so angry that he ordered his players to spend half-time on the pitch.

This time they were allowed the half-time cuppa - but it was Stannard who earned the right to eat the pies.

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).