Cod Army looking to knock Blues off their perch
Wycombe Wanderers travel to Fleetwood Town on Saturday in the first round of the FA Cup.
Fleetwood are 2nd in the Conference with 40 points from 19 games.
The Blues are 23rd in League One with 13 points from 17 games.
Fleetwood's Home Record (All comps).....Won 5 - Drawn 4 - Lost 1
Wycombe's Away Record (All comps)......Won 2 - Drawn 2 - Lost 5
Excitement is already building for a tantalising clash at Highbury Avenue this weekend. The F.A. Cup might be considered by some to be a nuisance but the vast majority still cherish it for the pure, undiluted magic that it has created for the last 141 years. Some argue that it creates a distraction from the bread and butter of the league but examples are plentiful of clubs who have built on cup success to go onto greater things in the league.
Exeter City, for example, were struggling under a CVA before being drawn away at Old Trafford. They recorded a goal-les draw before losing the replay at St. James Park but the money raised was enough for the club to exit administration. They went on to reach Wembley in 2007, win promotion back to the Football League in 2008 and then promotion to League One in 2009.
Or how about Hereford United? Everyone remembers the sight of parker-clad children racing onto the Edgar Street pitch when Ronnie Radford smashed the ball into the top corner of the Newcastle United net. It gave the club the profile which saw them elected to the Football League at the end of that same season and they went on to win promotion from Division Four the following season.
Perhaps the best example is that of Manchester United. Alex Ferguson's head was on the chopping block in January 1990 when his side faced Nottingham Forest in a third round tie at the City Ground. Mark Robins header gave the Red Devils a 1-0 victory and they went on to lift the cup at Wembley in May. It heralded two decades of silverware laden glory.
Wanderers won`t need reminding of the embarrassing exit at Eastwood Town three years ago and manager Gary Waddock trotted out the expected pre-match quotes. He said...
'It's a very difficult, tricky tie for us. They are joint-top of the Conference and I know how difficult that league is. Fleetwood would be the favourites. They are going to be right up for the game. We have to make sure we go there with the right attitude - if we don't that's why there's cup upsets, and obviously we don't want one.'
'They recently beat Luton at Kenilworth Road - that tells you how good they are. To go to Luton and win is a big achievement so they are going into the game full of confidence. We have to make sure we match them for confidence and attitude.'
His opposite number Micky Mellon said...
'The FA Cup is always exciting and you always look forward to it but the most important thing is to get a good week`s preparation under your belt. You have to remember that it`s still just a game and you don`t want to be changing things in training.'
Meanwhile Town striker Richard Brodie, on a season-long loan from Crawley Town added...
'Many people see Cup competitions as a distraction but it gave us [Crawley] confidence to kick on and eventually we achieved our aim of winning the league [last season]. We`ve got a great chance of progressing on Saturday coming in on the back of a great result at Luton. Wycombe will get a shock when they see our facilities and the quality of the players we have.'
Waddock faces some selection dilemmas for the clash with several players unavailable. Defender Marvin McCoy is away on international duty with Antigua and Barbuda whilst out-of-favour winger Kevin Betsy is also on international duty with the Seychelles. Captain Gareth Ainsworth will be sidelined for a month following surgery on a broken thumb whilst striker Matt McClure is still recovering from a dislocated ankle.
Loan striker Nicholas Bignall has returned to Reading with a knee injury whilst goalkeeper Steve Arnold, on a season-long loan with Hayes and Yeading United, has been ruled-out for at least months with a broken foot. Defender Charles Dunne and midfielder Jesse Kewley-Graham and Josh Scowen are out on loan.
There is some good news with defender Grant Basey and midfielder Martin Rowlands both available after parent clubs Peterborough United and Queens Park Rangers gave permission for the players to feature. Midfielder Ben Harding returned to the bench for the 1-1 draw at Notts County last weekend following groin surgery.
Waddock has a trio of doubts ahead of the game with striker Scott Rendell returning from his loan with Bristol Rovers with a groin problem. Central defenders Dave Winfield and James Tunnicliffe have only just resumed training after illness and groin surgery respectively.
With midfielder John Halls and loan striker Elliot Benyon out-of-favour the likely squad available for the game is: Bull, Ingram; Foster, Basey, Johnson, Tunnicliffe, Winfield, Stewart; Bloomfield, Donnelly, Harding, Lewis, Rowlands, Grant, Harris; Beavon, Strevens, Ibe.
Fleetwood Town are in fine form, having lost just one of their last 14 games in all competitions and having notched a whopping 40 goals in that time. Mellon is boosted by the return of loan defender Charlie Wassmer after he missed the win at Luton Town last weekend due to a diabetic problem. He has been given permission to play by parent club Crawley Town.
Fellow loanee Glenn Wilson has however been refused permission by the Red Devils. Ryan Jackson is also unlikely to feature with his loan deal from AFC Wimbledon set to expire. Left-back Paul Edwards has just returned to training from a hamstring injury but is unlikely to make the squad to face the Chairboys.
The Cod Army`s recent form is even more impressive given their lengthy injury list. Loan right-back Matt Flynn is sidelined with a shoulder injury whilst left-back Anthony Barry is ruled-out with a knee injury. His replacement, Junior Brown suffered an ankle ligament injury at Kenilworth Road last weekend and is set to miss the next six weeks.
Central defender Peter Cavanagh hasn`t quite recovered from an ankle injury and fellow centre-back Rob Atkinson is sidelined with a broken ankle. Paul Linwood makes up the trio of centre-backs in the treatment room. He has a knee injury as does midfielder Peter Till.
Mellon is likely to name the following line-up: (4-4-2)
Shaun Beeley - Steve McNulty - Nathan Pond - Alan Goodall
Gareth Seddon - Jamie McGuire - Jamie Milligan - Sean Clancy
Richard Brodie - Jamie Vardy
Subs: Danzelle St Louis-Hamilton, Paul Edwards, Keith Briggs, Andy Mangan and Magno Vieira.
Here are some stats…
Fleetwood's last five games (All Competitions)
Conf: Alfreton (A).............Won 4-1
Conf: Bath City (H)...........Won 4-1
FAC: Mansfield (A)...........Drew 1-1
FAC: Mansfield (H)............Won 5-0
Conf: Luton Town (A)........Won 2-1
Wycombe's last five games (All Competitions)
Lg1: Hartlepool (A)............Won 3-1
Lg1: Oldham (A)................Lost 0-2
Lg1: Charlton (H)...............Lost 1-2
Lg1: Sheff Wed (H)............Lost 1-2
Lg1: Notts County (A).......Drew 1-1
Fleetwood Goal Stats (21 games in all Competitions)
Goals Scored (Total)............Lg: 39...Cups: 6...Total: 45
Goals Conceded (Total)........Lg: 25...Cups: 1...Total: 26
Goals Scored (Home)...........Lg: 16...Cups: 5...Total: 21
Goals Conceded (Home).......Lg: 10...Cups: 0...Total: 10
Clean Sheets.......................Lg: 5....Cups: 1....Total: 6
Wycombe Goal Stats (21 games in all Competitions)
Goals Scored (Total)..............Lg: 17...Cups: 8.....Total: 25
Goals Conceded (Total)..........Lg: 27...Cups: 11...Total: 38
Goals Scored (Away).............Lg: 9.....Cups: 0.....Total: 9
Goals Conceded (Away).........Lg: 14...Cups: 0.....Total: 14
Clean Sheets.........................Lg: 1....Cups: 0.....Total: 1
Fleetwood's Top Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Richard Brodie.............5 (inc 1 pen)
James Milligan.............5 (inc 3 pens)
One other player has scored 2 goals.
Three other players have each scored 1 goal.
Wycombe's Top Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Scott Donnelly...........5 (inc 2 pens)
Six other players have each scored 1 goal.
The Man In The Middle
Saturday's referee is Andy Haines from Tyne & Wear who was promoted to the National List of Referees in 2007. His most recent Wycombe game was a 3-0 win at Tranmere Rovers in April 2010. So far this season he's issued 1 red and 39 yellow cards in 14 games.
Fleetwood Town 1 Wycombe Wanderers 1 (Len)
Fleetwood Town 4 Wycombe Wanderers 1 (Benny)