Preview: Darlington v Wycombe Wanderers
Weather permitting, Wycombe Wanderers travel to Darlington on Saturday for a crucial top of the table clash.
Darlington are currently 5th in the table with 47 points from 27 games, 28 of those points having been won at home. They are 6 points behind leaders Wycombe but with a game in hand. If they won their game in hand they would be 2nd in the table.
The Quakers have been in the hunt for promotion all season and have recovered from a recent bad patch during which they failed to win in 6 consecutive league games and only picked up 4 points from a possible 18. Their current form is superb and they have taken 12 points from a possible 15 in January. Home wins against Bournemouth (2-1) and Luton (5-1) were followed by a 1-0 setback at Shrewsbury before the Quakers got back to winning ways with a 1-0 home win over Rotherham, and a 1-0 away win at Dagenham last Saturday.
They have scored 44 league goals (26 at home) and have conceded 25 (12 at home).
15 different players have scored for Darlington this season in all competitions and their top marksmen are Billy Clarke with 9 goals and scourge of the Chairboys, Liam Hatch with 8. Clarke is now with Northampton but another player to watch out for is Pawel Abbot who has recently returned following injury and has already scored 2 goals in just 4 appearances.
Wycombe Wanderers are the league leaders and currently enjoy a 4 point lead over 2nd placed Brentford. The Chairboys have 53 points from 28 games played, 24 of those points having been won on their travels away from Adams Park
January was a month of mixed emotions for the Chairboys. It began with a fine 2-1 home win over fellow high fliers Bury but went downhill rapidly when they lost two games in succession. Having only tasted defeat once in their first 24 games, it came as a shock to the system for Wycombe fans when they saw their side lose 1-0 at home to lowly Grimsby and then suffer a 3-1 defeat at relegation strugglers Bournemouth. However, slowly but surely the ship is being steadied and a solid 0-0 draw at Macclesfield was followed last Saturday by a narrow 2-1 win over Accrington Stanley.
The game on Saturday marks the beginning of a tricky February for Wycombe. Following the Darlington trip, the Chairboys travel to promotion rivals Bradford and Dagenham, entertain Rotherham and then travel again to Morecambe, who beat 2nd place Brentford on Tuesday night.
Wycombe have scored 36 league goals (14 away from home) and have conceded 19 (9 away from home).
12 different players have scored for Wycombe in all competitions and the top marksman is Matt Harrold with 12 goals. Next highest scorer is Chris Zebroski who has found the net 6 times, while last season's top scorer Scott McGleish has 3 goals to his name as do former players Angelo Balanta and Mike Williamson who have both recently left the club. New striker Jon-Paul Pittman could make his debut following his arrival from Crawley Town on Monday.
Current League Form
Last Five League Games
Darlington: WWLWW - 12 points
Wycombe: WLLDW - 7 points
Last Five Home Games
Darlington: DDWWW - 11 points
Last Five Away Games
Wycombe: LWDLD - 5 points
Earlier this season the two sides drew 1-1 at Adams Park when a Scott McGleish penalty in the 97th minute gave the Chairboys a barely deserved point after Darlington had looked the better side and taken the lead through Jason Kennedy after 58 minutes.
Last season Wycombe lost 1-0 at Darlington to a Pawel Abbot goal after 77 minutes but won the return fixture at Adams Park 2-0 with an acrobatic overhead kick from Leon Knight and a poacher's goal from Scott McGleish.
Darlington is not a happy hunting ground for Wycombe.
League Two 1993/94 : Darlington 0 Wycombe 0
League Two 2004/05 : Darlington 1 Wycombe 0
League Two 2005/06 : Darlington 1 Wycombe 1
League Two 2006/07 : Darlington 3 Wycombe 2
League Two 2007/08 : Darlington 1 Wycombe 0
The Referee for this match is Mr. S. W. Mathieson
Mr. Mathieson is in his 12th season as a League referee. During that time he's officiated at 20 games involving Darlington, 10 of which the Quakers have won. He's been the man in the middle for 6 previous Wycombe games and the Chairboys have only won 1 of them, the 2-1 FA Cup victory over Oxford United two seasons ago. Mr Mathieson was in charge when Darlington beat Wycombe 1-0 last season and has already officiated twice at the Darlington Arena so far this campaign, with the Quakers winning on both occasions. This season he has had 26 games and issued 49 yellow cards and 2 reds.
Wycombe Team News
Lewis Hunt will be out for a few more weeks with a broken bone in his foot.
Jon-Paul Pittman could make his debut after joining the club on Monday.
Darlington Team News
Franz Burgmeier and Tim Ryan are suspended for this game.
Current form suggests that this will be a very difficult trip for the stuttering Chairboys. Lose this one and they are likely to be dragged back into the chasing pack before much longer. A performance like the one they gave at Shrewsbury will be required on Saturday if they hope to take something from the game.
Darlington 1 Wycombe 1