Preview: Brentford v Wycombe
Wycombe Wanderers travel to Griffin Park on Saturday to take on Brentford in a top of the table clash knowing that a defeat would almost certainly put paid to their chances of winning the League Two title.
Brentford are currently top of League Two with 69 points from 36 games played, 38 of those points having been won on their home turf at Griffin Park.
Having been in the mix all season, the Bees have surged to the top of the table after a sustained run of good form which has seen them average just over two points per game since the turn of the season.
Their recent form is even better with 6 wins and 2 draws in their last 8 games.
Brentford boast the second best defensive record in the division having only conceded 3 more goals than the Chairboys and they come into this game on the back of 4 straight clean sheets.
The Bees have only suffered one defeat at home this season and that was at the hands of 3rd placed Rochdale as long ago as the 1st November.
In the last 4 weeks Brentford have enjoyed home wins over Port Vale (2-0), Bury (1-0) and Barnet (1-0), while on their travels they have defeated Rochdale (2-1) and Grimsby (1-0) but couldn't find a way past Rotherham (0-0).
The Bees have kept 17 clean sheets in their 36 league games.
They have scored 49 league goals (29 at home) and have conceded only 25 (9 at home).
Top Goal Scorers
Striker: Charlie MacDonald - 18
Midfielder: Marcus Bean - 9
Midfielder: Glenn Poole - 7
Striker: Nathan Elder - 7
Striker: Jordan Rhodes - 6
With 16 goals from just two of their midfielders, the Bees clearly demonstrate exactly what Wycombe have been lacking this season.
Striker Nathan Elder suffered a horrific eye injury last Saturday and is out for the rest of the season, but Brentford have acted quickly to bring in cover, with Sam Williams joining on-loan from Aston Villa.
Apart from the obvious threat posed by top scorer Charlie MacDonald, Jordan Rhodes is the man to watch out for. Brought in on-loan from Ipswich Town in January, Rhodes has scored his 6 goals in only 12 starts for the Bees.
Wycombe Wanderers are currently 2nd in the league with 62 points from 35 games played, 28 of those points having been won on their travels away from Adams Park.
The Chairboys are 7 points behind leaders Brentford but have 1 game in hand.
Tuesday's defeat at Lincoln City has left Wycombe looking over their shoulders as the chasing pack close in on their automatic promotion place.
They were top for months but indifferent form since the turn of the season has seen the Chairboys win 4, lose 4, and draw 4, to give them a modest haul of 16 points from their last 12 games.
In the last 4 weeks Wycombe have drawn with Rotherham (0-0), Morecambe (0-0) and Chesterfield (1-1), beaten Chester (2-0) and Dagenham (1-0) but suffered defeats at Bradford (1-0) and Lincoln City (1-0).
The Chairboys have kept 18 clean sheets in their 35 league games.
They have scored 40 league goals (15 away from home) and have conceded 22 (11 away from home).
Top Goal Scorers
Striker: Matt Harrold - 12
Midfielder: Chris Zebroski - 6
Striker: Jon-Paul Pittman - 3
Midfielder: Matty Phillips - 3
(Three other players have scored 3 goals for Wycombe this season but have all since left the club).
Jon-Paul Pittman has looked a very good signing and his 3 goals have been scored in only 6 starts. However, he doesn't see enough of the ball and it might be worth playing him out wide to utilise his speed and creativity.
Striker John Akinde has been brought in on-loan from Bristol City this week to help end the Chairboys' goal drought, but doubts remain over Wycombe's current ability to create enough chances whoever they play up-front.
Current League Form
Brentford:..Played:-13, Points:-27, Average:-2.08 Pts per game.
Wycombe: Played:-12, Points:-16, Average:-1.33 Pts per game
Last Five League Games
Brentford: WWWDW - 13 points
Wycombe: DDWDL - 6 points
Last Five Home Games
Brentford: DWWWW - 13 points
Last Five Away Games
Wycombe: DLWDL - 5 points
Earlier this season the two sides cancelled each other out in a goalless draw at Adams Park.
Last season's meetings between the two sides resulted in six points for the Chairboys. An unmemorable encounter at Adams Park was decided by the only goal of the game, a dubious late penalty converted by Jermaine Easter. The return match at Griffin Park on Boxing Day was one of the most enjoyable Wycombe performances of last season. Over a thousand travelling supporters saw Wycombe come back from 1-0 down at half-time to win 3-1, courtesy of goals from Torres, McGleish and Sutton.
Altogether the two sides have met on 24 occasions with 8 wins for Wycombe, 7 for Brentford and 9 draws.
Previous Meetings at Griffin Park
1994/95: Lg1 Brentford 0 Wycombe 0
1995/96: Lg1 Brentford 1 Wycombe 0
1996/97: Lg1 Brentford 0 Wycombe 0
1997/98: Lg1 Brentford 1 Wycombe 1
1999/00: Lg1 Brentford 0 Wycombe 0
2000/01: Lg1 Brentford 0 Wycombe 0
2001/02: Lg1 Brentford 1 Wycombe 0
2002/03: Lg1 Brentford 1 Wycombe 0
2003/04: Lg1 Brentford 1 Wycombe 1
2007/08: Lg2 Brentford 1 Wycombe 3
Not exactly a historical goal-fest.
The Referee for this match is Mr. Paul Taylor from Hertfordshire.
Mr Taylor has been a National List referee since 1990. His most recent Wycombe game was last season's 2-2 draw with Peterborough United at Adams Park. So far this season he has overseen 27 games and has issued 98 yellow cards and 8 reds.
Wycombe Team News
Lewis Hunt will be out for a few more weeks with a broken bone in his foot.
David McCracken is doubtful with a groin injury.
Stuart Beavon is out for a few weeks with a groin injury
Marek Stech is likely to be in the squad.
Brentford Team News
Nathan Elder is out with an eye injury.
A few weeks ago this fixture looked like being a battle between the division's top two sides with the League title possibly at stake. However, Wycombe's poor form since mid-season has taken some of the shine off this match and the chasing pack probably view it as just another tough assignment for the Chairboys as they desperately try to cling on to their automatic promotion place.
There is another view though. If Wycombe can upset the form book and win at Brentford they would only be 4 points behind with a game in hand and the confidence boost might see them finish the season as impressively as they started it.
Either way, this game will tell Wycombe fans a lot about the character of their team. Win it and they could still be league champions. Lose it and they disappear back into the pack after having been favourites for so long.
Wycombe's largest away following of the season will be there to watch.
Brentford 0 Wycombe 1
I live in hope.
Weekend Rivals Watch
Rochdale (3rd) are at home to Rotherham (17th).
Bury (4th) are away at Lincoln (12th)
Gillingham (5th) are at home to Shrewsbury (8th)
Bradford (6th) are away at Exeter (7th).
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