Preview: Wycombe Wanderers v Rochdale
Wycombe Wanderers take on Rochdale at Adams Park on Saturday afternoon in another crucial clash between two sides vying for an automatic promotion place.
Rochdale are currently 4th in League Two with 61 points from 37 games played, 26 of those points having been won away from home.
They are the division's top scorers and have bagged 21 more league goals than Wycombe so far this season.
Runners-up in last season's play-off final, Rochdale are making a concerted effort to go one better this time round and cement a place in the top three.
They enjoyed a fruitful February which saw them pick up 13 points from a possible 18 after away wins over Chester (2-0), Macclesfield (1-0) and Darlington (1-0), a home win over Grimsby (2-0), and a home draw against Morecambe (1-1). Dale's only defeat of the month was a 2-1 setback against league leaders Brentford at Spotland.
March has not been as kind to Dale so far and they suffered defeats at both Barnet (2-1) and Bury (2-1), before returning to Spotland and beating Bradford (3-0). Their most recent game was at home to Rotherham last Saturday, when they again came off second best with the Millers taking all three points after a 2-1 win.
Rochdale have kept 7 clean sheets in their 37 league games.
They have scored 64 league goals (27 away from home) and have conceded 45 (26 away from home).
15 different players have scored for Dale in all competitions.
Top Goal Scorers
Striker: Adam Le Fondre - 18
Midfielder: William Buckley - 10
Striker : Chris Dagnall - 8
Midfielder: Adam Rundle - 6
Wycombe Wanderers are currently 3rd in the league with 63 points from 36 games played, 34 of those points having been won on their home turf at Adams Park.
The Chairboys are 7 points behind leaders Brentford but have 2 games in hand.
Having led the league for so long, The Chairboys have had a lean time of it since the turn of the season, finding goals hard to come by and only winning 4 of their last 13 games.
However, things could be looking up. Last Saturday's top of the table clash with Brentford saw Wycombe come from behind twice before taking the lead in a thrilling game which eventually finished 3-3. This performance was exactly what the Chairboys' fans have been waiting to see from their team. There was a sense of urgency, a willingness to go forward in numbers when necessary and best of all, an end product to show for their efforts.
The introduction of on-loan striker John Akinde, whose superb 2 goal performance was so crucial on Saturday, could prove to be a masterstroke from manager Peter Taylor. The big striker will no doubt give opposition defences plenty to think about in the coming weeks.
The loss of Tommy Doherty through suspension is a blow for Wycombe. He has been the best player in a less than productive midfield this season. However, the signing of Chelsea starlet Lee Sawyer should help to soften the blow.
February saw Wycombe pick up 5 points from 4 games. They lost 1-0 at Bradford before bouncing back with an excellent 1-0 win at Dagenham, but could only round-off the month with successive goalless draws against in-form sides Rotherham and Morecambe.
So far this month a 2-0 win at home to Chester was followed by a 1-1 draw against a resurgent Chesterfield side, before the Chairboys went on their travels, losing 1-0 at Lincoln and sharing the spoils in Saturday's 3-3 goal fest at Brentford.
Wycombe have kept an impressive 18 clean sheets in their 36 league games and boast the best defensive record in the division.
They have scored 43 league goals (25 at home) and have conceded 25 (11 at home).
14 different players have scored for Wycombe in all competitions this season.
Top Goal Scorers
Striker: Matt Harrold - 12
Midfielder: Chris Zebroski - 6
Striker: Jon-Paul Pittman - 3
Midfielder: Matty Phillips - 3
Current League Form
Wycombe:. Played:-13, Points:-17, Average:-1.31 Pts per game.
Rochdale:...Played:-14, Points:-23, Average:-1.64 Pts per game
Last Five League Games
Wycombe: DWDLD - 6 points
Rochdale:...WLLWL - 6 points
Last Five Home Games
Wycombe: LWDWD - 8 points
Last Five Away Games
Rochdale: WWWLL - 9 points
Earlier this season Chris Zebroski scored the only goal of the game as the Chairboys took all three points at Spotland.
Last season, honours were even after both sides recorded 1-0 wins on their opponents' turf. Rochdale impressed Wycombe fans with their performance at Adams Park last season but had to rely on a 90th minute penalty to win the game. In the reverse fixture at Spotland a Leon Knight goal for the Chairboys was all that separated the sides.
Altogether the two sides have met on 11 occasions with 5 wins for Wycombe, 2 for Rochdale and 4 draws. There has only ever been 1 home win when the two teams have met but the visiting side has come out on top 6 times.
1993/94: Lg2 Rochdale. 2 Wycombe 2
1993/94: Lg2 Wycombe 1 Rochdale 1
2004/05: Lg2 Wycombe 0 Rochdale 3
2004/05: Lg2 Rochdale. 1 Wycombe 1
2005/06: Lg2 Rochdale. 1 Wycombe 2
2005/06: Lg2 Wycombe 3 Rochdale 0
2006/07: Lg2 Rochdale. 0 Wycombe 2
2006/07: Lg2 Wycombe 1 Rochdale 1
2007/08: Lg2 Wycombe 0 Rochdale 1
2007/08: Lg2 Rochdale. 0 Wycombe 1
2008/09: Lg2 Rochdale. 0 Wycombe 1
Only one home win ever.
The Referee for this match is Mr. Clive Penton from Sussex.
Mr Penton has been a National List referee since 2001. His most recent Wycombe game was last season's 2-1 win over Wrexham at Adams Park, whilst his most recent Rochdale game was their impressive 4-2 win at Aldershot just 7 weeks ago. So far this season he has overseen 18 games and has issued 63 yellow cards and 5 reds.
Wycombe Team News
Lewis Hunt is recovering from 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.
Tommy Doherty is suspended for this game.
Lee Sawyer is likely to make his debut.
Rochdale Team News
Chris Dagnall could make his return following a 3 match suspension.
Will Buckley could return following a bout of tonsilitis.
Every game is important between now and the end of the season but some are more significant than others.
Following Wycombe's spirited performance against Brentford last Saturday, a win against Rochdale would keep the chasing pack at bay and instil a renewed sense of optimism in everyone at Adams Park.
A defeat would mean the Chairboys dropping into the play-off places for the first time since the end of August and they could even find themselves down as far as 6th place on Saturday evening.
No pressure then !
Wycombe 2 Rochdale 1
The Chairboys to win a nail-biting encounter.
Weekend Rivals Watch
Brentford (1st) are away to Dagenham (9th).
Gillingham (2nd) are away to Grimsby (23rd).
Bury (5th) are at home to Chester (22nd).
Exeter (6th) are away to Acrrington (19th).