Preview: Wycombe v Gillingham
Wycombe Wanderers take on promotion rivals Gillingham at Adams Park on Saturday as the nail-biting League Two season draws closer to it's conclusion.
With all the top sides dropping points unexpectedly in recent weeks, it's anyone's guess how the final table will look at 5 o'clock on May 2nd.
Without entirely ruling out Shrewsbury, Bradford and Chesterfield, it's now highly probable that the three teams eventually winning automatic promotion will come from the current top-six: Brentford, Wycombe, Exeter, Bury, Rochdale and Gillingham.
That makes this Easter weekend a massive test for Wycombe Wanderers, who face the Gills on Saturday and then travel to Exeter City on Monday.
Gillingham are currently 6th in the table with 65 points from 41 games, 26 of those points having been collected away from home.
After being relegated from League One last season, the Gills were among the bookies' favourites to win promotion this time round but found themselves down in 10th place half way through the current campaign.
At that point, it didn't look like they were going have a particularly successful season and the main problem was their away record. With only 2 wins on their travels by the end of December, it was clear that improving their results away from Priestfield was crucial if they were to force their way back into the promotion picture.
The improvement began straight after the turn of the year. The Gills immediately won 3 away games in succession and have since gone on to record a further 2 victories on their travels to give them an impressive record of 17 points from their last 9 away games.
Not everything is rosy however. Following an 8 match unbeaten run, the Gills have only enjoyed 1 win in their last 5 games and appear to be showing the same end of season jitters as many of their promotion rivals, having taken only 1 point from the last possible 9.
Shrewsbury (Home)....2-2 Draw
Notts County (Away)...1-0 Win
Grimsby (Away)..........3-0 Loss
Brentford (Away).........1-1 Draw
Barnet (Home)............2-0 Loss
If the Gills do manage to push on and take a top-three spot, they will have done it the hard way. After Saturday's match against Wycombe, they finish the season with games against Dagenham, Chesterfield, Bury and Rochdale.
Gillingham Goals Stats.
Total Goals Scored.....54
Away Goals Scored....18
Total Goals Conceded...53
Away Goals Conceded..33
14 different players have scored for Gillingham in all competitions.
Top Goal Scorers
Striker: Simeon Jackson.....18
Striker: Andy Barcham.........9
Midfielder: Adam Miller.........6
Midfielder: Curtis Weston......4
Wycombe Wanderers are currently 2nd in the league with 68 points from 40 games played, 36 of those points having been won at Adams Park.
The Chairboys are 4 points behind league-leaders Brentford having played the same number of games, and sit 3 points ahead of Saturday's opponents Gillingham having played 1 game less.
After enduring a painful run of 6 games without a win, Tuesday evening's last-gasp victory over Darlington was just what the Chairboys needed to reignite a promotion challenge which had appeared to be faltering.
The manner of the victory was very important too, with little sign of the fear-factor which has strangled recent performances
So, despite slipping down the table in recent weeks, Wycombe's mid-week win puts them back in 2nd place with the added cushion of a game-in-hand over all the sides immediately below them. With less than four weeks of the season remaining, the win came at just the right time to boost the flagging confidence of players and fans alike.
Saturday will also see the welcome return of midfield talisman Tommy Doherty following his four-match suspension. Although the Wycombe midfield had their most effective game for a while on Tuesday evening, it would be a surprise if Doherty didn't immediately reclaim his place in the starting eleven.
Brentford (Away).......3-3 Draw
Rochdale (Home).......1-0 Loss
Shrewsbury (Home)...1-1 Draw
Barnet (Home)...........1-1 Draw
Darlington (Away)......2-1 Win
Wycombe Goals Stats.
Total Goals Scored.....47
Home Goals Scored....27
Total Goals Conceded....29
Home Goals Conceded...14
15 different players have scored for the Chairboys in all competitions this season.
Top Goal Scorers
Striker: Matt Harrold.........12
Midfielder: Chris Zebroski...7
Striker: John Akinde..........4
Striker: Jon-Paul Pittman....3
Midfielder: Matty Phillips.....3
Wycombe:.....Played:-17, Points:-22, Average:-1.29 Pts per game.
Gillingham:....Played:-18, Points:-31, Average:-1.72 Pts per game
Last Five League Games
Wycombe:...DLDDW - 6 points
Gillingham:...DWLDL - 5 points
Last Five Home Games
Wycombe:..WDLDD - 6 points
Last Five Away Games
Gillingham:..DWWLD - 8 points
Against Other Top-Six Sides
Wycombe:....Played - 8, Won - 2, Drawn - 5, Lost - 1, Points-11
Gillingham:...Played - 7, Won - 1, Drawn - 4, Lost - 2, Points-7
Earlier this season the two sides drew 1-1 at the Priestfield Stadium with an own-goal giving Wycombe a half-time lead only for Curtis Weston to equalise for Gillingham with just 6 minutes of the match remaining.
Altogether the two sides have met on 16 occasions with 3 wins for Wycombe, 6 for Gillingham and 7 draws.
Previous Meetings in Wycombe.
FA Cup 1stR 1932/33 : Wycombe 2 Gillingham 4
League Two 1993/94 : Wycombe 1 Gillingham 1
FA Cup 1stR 1995/96 : Wycombe 1 Gillingham 1
League One 1996/97 : Wycombe 1 Gillingham 1
League One 1997/98 : Wycombe 1 Gillingham 0
League One 1998/99 : Wycombe 0 Gillingham 2
League One 1999/00 : Wycombe 1 Gillingham 0
The Referee for this match is Mr. Lee Mason from Lancashire.
Mr. Mason has been a Select Group Referee since 2006 and usually officiates in Premiership or Championship matches. The last time he took charge of a Wycombe game was last season's 6-0 defeat at Stockport County. So far this season he's refereed 28 games and has issued 100 yellow cards and 7 reds.
Wycombe Team News
Stuart Beavon could return to the squad following injury.
Tommy Doherty returns after his four match suspension.
Leon Johnson is out injured.
As a supporter, you follow your team come rain or shine in the hope that it does well enough to be involved in 'six-pointers' against promotion rivals at the end of the season. Wycombe now have two of these crucial games in the same weekend.
It will be nerve-wracking, but if they can keep Simeon Jackson quiet, overcome their jitters and play with the same confidence they did on Tuesday evening, Wycombe can take all three points from Gillingham on Saturday and set themselves up nicely for the trip to Exeter on Easter Monday.
Wycombe 2 Gillingham 1
Weekend Rivals Watch
Bury (4th) are at home to Shrewsbury (7th).
Brentford (1st) are at home to Exeter (3rd).
Rochdale (5th) are at home to Port Vale (19th).