Date:Monday August 15 2011
Wycombe Wanderers travel to Leyton Orient on Tuesday for their third league game of the season.
The O's finished just one point below the play-offs in 7th place last season, and many pundits were predicting they would make another strong challenge this time round.
Their summer signings include strikers Jamie Cureton from Exeter and David Mooney from Reading, defender Scott Cuthbert from Swindon, midfielder Marc Laird from Millwall and the versatile Leon McSweeney from Hartlepool. Midfielder Michael Richardson has also arrived on-loan from Newcastle United.
An encouraging pre-season campaign contained four wins, two draws and a solitary 4-1 defeat to a Spurs side packed with international players.
Seemingly well-prepared for the new season, the O's have endured a disappointing start, and are yet to collect a point after losing 1-0 at Walsall on the opening day, and repeating the scoreline in their first home game against Tranmere Rovers on Saturday.
Sandwiched in-between, was a 4-3 victory on penalties after their Carling Cup clash at Southend finished 1-1 after extra time.
The O's top-scorer in league games last season was Alex Revell, who Wycombe fans will remember as the badge-kisser we bent over backwards to help, who repaid us by jumping ship when we were relegated four months later.
It was a relegation sealed at Brisbane Road, where Wycombe lost 2-0 to Orient in the penultimate game of the season to finally extinguish their slim hopes of survival.
Fifteen months later, we're back, and it will be a good opportunity to see how far the two sides have progressed in the intervening period.
The Blues already have two hard-earned points in the bag, but can't keep absorbing the sort of pressure they faced on Saturday and expect to remain unbeaten for much longer.
They can take comfort from the fact that Scunthorpe and Colchester are two of the better sides in the division, but it's clear that the Blues need to tighten-up in certain areas to deal with the step up in quality of opposition.
In the games played so far, our full backs have certainly found the wingers in League One to be trickier, pacier and more productive than anything they faced last season, and learning to cope with that is a matter of urgency.
The Blues have also missed the energy and bite of Stuart Lewis in central-midfield, the other key area where they were largely dominated in the league games against the Iron and the U's.
What has been encouraging are the performances of keeper Nikki Bull and the squad's three central-defenders who all look more than capable of holding their own in this division.
The Wycombe wingers have generally looked the part going forward, but will need to be more aware of their defensive responsibilities than was necessary last season.
With only three shots on target in their first two league games, and none of them from a striker, it's clear that the Blues aren't yet firing on all cylinders in attack.
The Carling Cup game was a different matter. The 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 formation gave the team a stronger presence in the middle of the park and led to six shots on target and three goals.
Many fans hoped, and expected, to see Stuart Beavon start against Colchester on Saturday following his effective performance against them in the cup, but it didn't happen, and his omission further fuelled the perpetual debate about who should start up-front.
Beavon may have been carrying a knock of course, but if he wasn't, it was surprising that Ben Strevens was given an instant recall in his place.
What wasn't surprising was the inclusion of Scott Rendell. Gary Waddock reportedly paid £130,000 for Rendell, and when you've persuaded the Wycombe board to part with that kind of money for a player, you play him.
The return to fitness of Elliot Benyon adds another possible permutation, and it doesn't take a genius to work out that Waddock probably has his eye on reprising the strike partnership of Rendell and Benyon as soon as possible, hoping that the former Torquay teammates will bring the best out of each other.
Tuesday's match is too soon for Lewis, but Benyon is likely to feature again and Kevin Betsy has returned from international duty. It would also be no surprise to see either Ben Harding or Matt Bloomfield given the chance to play alongside Scott Donnelly in central-midfield.
Orient's season so far (All Competitions)
LG1: Walsall (A)................ Lost 0-1
Ccp: Southend (A).............Won 1-1 (4-3 on pens)
LG1: Tranmere (H).............Lost 0-1
Wycombe's season so far (All Competitions)
LG1: Scunthorpe (H).........Drew 1-1
Ccp: Colchester (H)...........Won 3-3 (5-4 on pens)
LG1: Colchestert (A).........Drew 1-1
Orient Goal Stats (3 games in all Competitions)
Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 0...Cups: 1...Total: 1
Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 2...Cups: 1...Total: 3
Goals Scored (Home).........Lg: 0...Cups: 0...Total: 0
Goals Conceded (Home).....Lg: 1...Cups: 0...Total: 1
Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 0...Cups: 0...Total: 0
Wycombe Goal Stats (3 games in all Competitions)
Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 2...Cups: 3...Total: 5
Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 2...Cups: 3...Total: 5
Goals Scored (Away).........Lg: 1...Cups: 0...Total: 1
Goals Conceded (Away).....Lg: 1...Cups: 0...Total: 1
Clean Sheets....................Lg: 0...Cups: 0...Total: 0
Orient's Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Wycombe's Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Scott Rendell............1 (inc 1 pen)
Orient Shooting (Top-3) - All Competitions
Jimmy Smith........3 on-target...3 off-target...0 against woodwork
Jamie Cureton......3 on-target...2 off-target...0 against woodwork
Dean Cox............3 on-target...1 off-target...0 against woodwork
Wycombe Shooting (Top-3) - All Competitions
Scott Donnelly.........2 on-target...3 off-target...0 against woodwork
Joel Grant...............2 on-target...2 off-target...0 against woodwork
Gareth Ainsworth.....1 on-target...2 off-target...1 against woodwork
Shooting (Club) - League Games Only
Orient.............11 on target...9 off target...0 against w'work (Rank-10)
Wycombe.........3 on target...6 off target...1 against w'work (Rank-23)
In 13 previous meetings there have been 9 wins for Wycombe, 4 for Orient and 0 draws.
At Brisbane Road there have been 4 wins for Wycombe, 3 for Orient and 0 draws.
1993/94 LCp: Orient 0 Wycombe 2
1994/95 LG1: Orient 0 Wycombe 1
1995/96 LCp: Orient 2 Wycombe 0
2000/01 FLT: Orient 0 Wycombe 2
2004/05 LG2: Orient 1 Wycombe 2
2005/06 LG2: Orient 1 Wycombe 0
2009/10 LG1: Orient 2 Wycombe 0
The Man In The Middle
Tuesday's referee is Gavin Ward from Surrey who was promoted to the National List of Referees in 2007. His most recent Wycombe game was April's 2-0 win over Stockport County at Adams Park. So far this season he's issued 8 yellow cards in 2 games.
Orient 1 Wycombe 1
Date:Monday August 15 2011
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