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Preview: Hartlepool United v Wycombe Wanderers

Preview:  Hartlepool United v Wycombe Wanderers

Wycombe Wanderers travel to Hartlepool United on Saturday for their seventh League One fixture of the season.

With Pools yet to earn a single point at home and Wycombe beaten in every away game so far, something's got to give this weekend.

Hartlepool are currently 14th in the table with 7 points from their opening 6 league games.

The Monkey Hangers were languishing in the bottom four this time last week until a fine 3-0 win at Oldham Athletic propelled them up to mid-table.

Excellent results on the road have seen them take 7 out of a possible 9 points courtesy of a draw at Franchise and wins over Gillingham and Oldham.

It's been a different matter on their home turf at Victoria Park and after three successive defeats, Hartlepool will be looking to get off the mark against Wycombe on Saturday.

Another team who are bedding-in a sizeable crop of summer signings, eight of their new faces played a part in last weekend's win over Oldham.

Last season they finished 19th in League One with 50 points, the season before they were 15th with 54 points and the year before that they were promoted from League Two as runners-up to Walsall.

Their home ground Victoria Park was originally opened in 1886 and currently has a capacity of 7,691.

Director of football Chris Turner is currently caretaker manager at Hartlepool and is enjoying his second spell at the club, having previously managed them between 1999 and 2002.

The club's mascot 'H'Angus the Monkey' was actually elected Mayor of Hartlepool in 2002 under the slogan 'free bananas for schoolchildren.' (What price Bodger as next Mayor of High Wycombe under the slogan 'free spacko sticks for Blues Card holders')

Monkey Hangers on target

Four different players have scored for Hartlepool in all competitions so far this season, and their top marksmen with two goals each are James Brown, Denis Behan and Adam Boyd.

Shooting (Top-3)

Denis Behan:.....17 on-target, 15 off-target, 4 against woodwork.
James Brown.......6 on-target, 8 off-target, 0 against woodwork.
Colin Larkin.........5 on-target, 1 off-target, 0 against woodwork

Hartlepool's season so far

LG1: MK Dons (A)............Drew 0-0
Ccp: Coventry (A))...........Won 1-0 (aet)
LG1: Charlton (H).............Lost 2-0
LG1: Bristol Rovers (H).....Lost 2-1
LG1: Gillingham (A)..........Won 1-0
Ccp: Burnley (H)..............Lost 2-1 (aet)
LG1: Norwich (H)..............Lost 2-0
LG1: Oldham (A)..............Won 3-0

Hartlepool summer signings

Adam Boyd (Leyton Orient) - Striker (£80,000)
Jon-André Fredriksen (Sarpsborg) - Midfielder (£8,000)
Neil Austin (Darlington) - Defender
Denis Behan (Cork City) - Striker
Ármann Bjornsson (SK Brann) - Defender/Striker
Scott Flinders (Crystal Palace) - Goalkeeper
Billy Greulich (Unattached) - Striker
Peter Hartley (Sunderland) - Defender
Steve Haslam (Bury) - Defender
Leon McSweeney (Stockport County) - Midfielder
Colin Larkin (Northampton) - Striker

The Chairboys are currently 22nd in the table with just 4 points from their first 6 league games.

Although they faced some tough opposition at the start of the season, Wycombe can only hide behind that fact for so long, before questions are asked about their ability to survive in this division.

Last Saturday's 1-0 loss at Brighton was difficult for fans to swallow, not so much because of the result but because of the manner of the defeat.

The Chairboys offered little going forward in a totally lacklustre performance during which they seemed content to hand the initiative to a struggling Brighton side who gained in confidence as the match progressed.

It's this cautious attitude which leaves Wycombe supporters wondering if opposition teams are being afforded too much respect this season.

The fact that the Brighton game followed a tenacious home performance against Bristol Rovers, points to another problem, lack of consistency. Wycombe have played very well in spells this season but seem unable to sustain it over ninety minutes or carry any good form forward to the next game.

Last year's tight defence is a thing of the past and a tendency to wait until they're a goal behind before showing any attacking ambition is costing the Chairboys dearly this season, particularly away from home where they are yet to earn a solitary point.

On the injury front, Lewis Hunt made his first appearance of the season in a midweek reserve match before being replaced after 57 minutes. Midfield maestro Tommy Doherty didn't take part but is apparently back in full training, and new signing Kevin Betsy improved his match fitness by playing the full 90 minutes.

Chairboys on target

Four different players have scored for Wycombe in all competitions this season and their top marksman is Jon-Paul Pittman with 4 goals. Chris Zebroski and Matt Harrold have 2 goals apiece.

Shooting (Top-3)

Jon-Paul Pittman....7 on-target, 4 off-target, 0 against woodwork
Chris Zebroski.......6 on-target, 3 off-target, 0 against woodwork
Stuart Green..........6 on-target, 3 off-target, 0 against woodwork

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
LG1: Bristol Rovers (H)..Won 2-1
JPT: Northampton (H).....Lost 2-2 (3-0 on pens)
LG1: Brighton (A)...........Lost 1-0

Current League form

Hartlepool:.....Pld-6, W-2, D-1, L-3, Pts-7, GF-5, GA-6, Clean Sheets-3
Wycombe:.....Pld-6, W-1, D-1, L-4, Pts-4, GF-7, GA-12, Clean Sheets-0

Hartlepool at Home....Pld-3, W-0, D-0, L-3, Pts-0, GF-1, GA-6

Wycombe Away........Pld-3, W-0, D-0, L-3, Pts-0, GF-4, GA-9

Previous Meetings

2003/04: LG1 Hartlepool 1 Wycombe 1
2003/04: LG1 Wycombe 3 Hartlepool 4
2006/07: LG2 Hartlepool 2 Wycombe 0
2006/07: LG2 Wycombe 0 Hartlepool 1

3 wins for Hartlepool, 0 wins for Wycombe and 1 draw.

The Man In The Middle

Saturday's referee is Anthony Taylor from Manchester who joined the National List of referees in 2006. His most recent Wycombe game was the 4-1 win over AFC Wimbledon in last season's FA Cup 1st round.

If Wycombe play with as much ambition as they did last Saturday they will almost certainly lose again to a Hartlepool side in confident mood after their great result last weekend.

Hopefully the Brighton game will act as a wake-up call to the Chairboys.


Hartlepool 1 Wycombe 1

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Date:Thursday September 10 2009
Time: 1:26PM

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8 Mansfield 44 17 14 13 65 5
9 Wycombe 44 18 11 15 65 4
10 Carlisle 44 16 17 11 65 -1
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13 Accrington 44 16 14 14 62 3
14 Grimsby 44 17 10 17 61 -2
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17 Crewe 44 13 13 18 52 -11
18 Morecambe 44 14 9 21 51 -18
19 Crawley 44 13 11 20 50 -16
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