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Match Preview: Wycombe Wanderers v Bristol Rovers

Wycombe Wanderers welcome Bristol Rovers to Adams Park on Saturday for their fifth League One fixture of the season.

Bristol Rovers have enjoyed a promising start to the campaign and currently lie 4th in the table with 9 points from their first 4 games.

They won promotion in 2007 after finishing 6th in League Two and subsequently beating Shrewsbury Town 3-1 at Wembley in the play-off final.

The following season they finished 16th in League One with 53 points.

Last season's improved total of 63 points earned Rovers a top half finish of 11th place.

Having lost at home to Leyton Orient on the opening day of this season, manager Paul Trollope's side won their next four games in a row, including a Carling Cup victory over Aldershot Town which handed them a 2nd round clash at Championship leaders Cardiff City.

Rovers' winning streak came to end in Cardiff last night when the Bluebirds proved too strong for them, winning 3-1.

Earlier this month Rovers sold star striker Rickie Lambert to Southampton for an initial fee of 800,000. Top scorer with 29 league goals to his name last season, Lambert's departure hasn't stopped Saturday's visitors from defying the bookies' odds with a fine start to the season, including a win over much-fancied Huddersfield Town last Saturday.

Pirates on target

Seven different players have scored for Bristol Rovers this season in all competitions and their top marksmen are strikers Darryl Duffy and Jo Kuffour with 2 goals apiece.

Bristol Rovers season so far

LG1: Leyton Orient (H)...Lost 2-1
Ccp: Aldershot (H)........Won 2-1
LG1: Stockport (A)........Won 2-0
LG1: Hartlepool (A).......Won 2-1
LG1: Huddersfield (H)....Won 1-0
Ccp: Cardiff City (A)......Lost 3-1

Bristol Rovers summer signings

Dominic Blizzard (Stockport County) Midfielder
Rhys Evans (Bradford City) Goalkeeper
Carl Regan (Franchise) Defender
Fraser Forster (Newcastle United) on-loan Goalkeeper

The newly promoted Chairboys have yet to win a game back in League One and currently find themselves 22nd in the table with just 1 point from their first 4 games.

Given a very tough start, which has seen them visit sleeping giants Charlton Athletic and Norwich City as well as entertain bookies' favourites Leeds United, the Wycombe fans are hoping their current position is a false one and that things will improve as the opposition becomes less daunting.

What will be worrying Chairboys' manager Peter Taylor however, is not so much the fact that his side have only picked up a single point from their difficult start, but the fact that his team is leaking cheap goals, particularly from set-pieces.

The cornerstone of Wycombe's promotion winning campaign last season was a defensive record which saw them keep 21 clean sheets and only concede 33 goals in 46 league games.

With 10 goals already conceded in their 4 league games so far this campaign, not to mention another 4 in the Carling Cup tie against Peterborough United, it's clear things ain't what they used to be.

The loss of centre-back and captain David McCracken in the summer, along with difficulty finding a competent right-back, appears to have thrown the Chairboys defence into turmoil at a time when they are clearly missing the comfort of having deep-lying midfielders Tommy Doherty and Gary Holt mopping-up in front of them.

Taylor worked hard in the summer to address Wycombe's problematic lack of creativity in midfield which led to a lack of goalscoring opportunities, but after trying several different defensive permutations this season, he now appears to be fire-fighting in the one area he thought he was strong.

Chairboys on target

Three different players have scored for Wycombe in all competitions this season and their top marksmen are Chris Zebroski and Matt Harrold with 2 goals apiece.

Wycombe's season so far

LG1: Charlton (A)........Lost 3-2
Ccp: Peterborough (H).Lost 4-0
LG1: Leeds (H)............Lost 1-0
LG1: Southend (H).....Drew 1-1
LG1: Norwich (A).........Lost 5-2

Previous Meetings At Adams Park

1994/95: LG1 Wycombe 0 Bristol Rovers 0
1995/96: LG1 Wycombe 1 Bristol Rovers 1
1996/97: LG1 Wycombe 2 Bristol Rovers 0
1997/98: LG1 Wycombe 1 Bristol Rovers 0
1998/99: LG1 Wycombe 1 Bristol Rovers 1
1999/00: LG1 Wycombe 1 Bristol Rovers 1
2000/01: LG1 Wycombe 0 Bristol Rovers 1
2001/02: LCp Wycombe 0 Bristol Rovers 1
2004/05: LG2 Wycombe 1 Bristol Rovers 0
2005/06: LG2 Wycombe 1 Bristol Rovers 3
2006/07: FLT Wycombe 0 Bristol Rovers 2
2006/07: LG2 Wycombe 0 Bristol Rovers 1

5 wins for Bristol Rovers, 3 wins for Wycombe and 4 draws.

The Man In The Middle

Saturday's referee is Phil Gibbs, an assistant head teacher from the West Midlands. He joined the National List of referees in 2008 and his last Wycombe game was the 0-0 draw at Morecambe in February of this year.

A first win of the season against the Pirates would kick-start the Chairboys' campaign and give their confidence a much-needed boost ahead of forthcoming trips to fellow strugglers Brighton and Hartlepool.


Wycombe Wanderers 2 Bristol Rovers 1

The team to respond positively to recent setbacks.

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The Journalist

Writer: Len Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday August 27 2009

Time: 2:18PM


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