Preview: Wycombe v Bristol Rovers
Wycombe Wanderers' start to the new League Two campaign received a set-back as Gillingham served up something of a reality check at Adams Park in midweek.
The Chairboys had been buoyed by an opening day win at York City but were unable to follow that up with another victory as they were deservedly beaten by a Gillingham side with more power, ability and crucially, goals. The first half was an even affair with the home side doing plenty of good things but that all changed after the break as the visitors dominated possession and pushed the Blues until they buckled. Full-back Joe Martin's 55th minute tap-in after Myles Weston's free-kick had crashed back off the post proved to be the winner.
The Wanderers had a numerical advantage for the final twelve minutes of the game after defender Tom Flanagan was sent-off for two bookable offences but it made little difference as the Gillingham defence comfortably dealt with a home attack bereft of a cutting edge. Goalkeeper Stuart Nelson was tested just twice by long range efforts from Matt Spring in the first half and Joel Grant in the second and it highlighted concerns, even with Stuart Beavon on the pitch, that we are going to struggle to find the net this season.
It was only Gillingham's second league victory over the Blues at Adams Park and there was more disappointment with a crowd of 3,507. Whilst it is comparable with similar attendances at this stage of recent seasons, it does serve as a reminder of the task the Trust faces in reaching break-even and finding the balance between spending money on the team to bring in more fans without placing the future of the club at risk.
Wycombe will be looking to bounce back this weekend when they host Bristol Rovers at Adams Park. It will be the 16th time we've hosted the Pirates, four of which have come in cup competitions. In league meetings we have won four, drawn four and lost three. Let's hope there will be no symmetry involved this weekend. The last league clash came almost three years ago to the day when two stunning strikes from Jon-Paul Pittman and Matt Phillips sealed Peter Taylor's only win as Blues' boss in League One.
There is bad news on the injury front with midfielder Sam Wood having to come off just before half-time against Gillingham in midweek with a knee injury. The full extent has yet to be made public but there's no chance of him being involved against the Pirates. Midfielder Matt Bloomfield also had to be substituted with a groin strain and he is one of a trio of doubts. Full-back Charles Dunne was hoping to return to training this week after suffering from a dead-leg whilst striker Matt McClure is already back in training after suffering from tendonitis of the knee. Defenders Danny Foster (knee) and Marvin McCoy (ankle ligaments) remain sidelined.
Gary Waddock will have to make changes with Wood definitely out and Bloomfield a doubt. The former was replaced by winger Dennis Oli in midweek whilst striker Richard Logan was thrown on for the latter to form a two-pronged attack alongside Beavon with the formation switching from the preferred 4-2-3-1 to a more orthodox 4-4-2. Teenager Lee Angol is another option on the wing, as is Gareth Ainsworth, but he appears to be concentrating more on his coaching duties this season.
Bristol Rovers will be travelling to Buckinghamshire in search of their first win of the new campaign. They were beaten 3-1 by Championship side Ipswich Town in the League Cup before losing 2-0 at home to Oxford United on the opening day of the League Two season. They did record their first point in midweek when ex-Blues striker Matt Harrold equalised in the second half to earn a 1-1 draw with Barnet at Underhill.
Pirates boss Mark McGhee has two players unavailable through injury. Ex-Chairboy goalkeeper Scott Bevan is still recovering from surgery on his wrist whilst defender Gary Kenneth injured his calf during the warm-up in midweek and is now set for six weeks on the sidelines. Midfielder Matthew Lund missed out after picking up a knock and he remains doubtful. They could line up something like this:
Michael Smith - Adam Virgo - Tom Parkes - Jim Paterson
Eliot Richards - Seanan Clucus - Matt Gill - Lee Brown
David Clarkson - Matt Harrold
Subs: Conor Cough, Ross Staley, Ollie Clarke, Wayne Brown, Oliver Norburn, Fabian Broghammer, Joe Anyinsah
Bristol Rovers' record last season
Home - W:10 D:6 L:7 GF:37 GA:29 Pts:36
Away - W:5 D:6 L:12 GF:23 GA:41 Pts:21
Total - W:15 D:12 L:19 GF:60 GA:70 Pts:57
Final position: 13th in League Two
The Pirates in pre-season
Tamworth 1 Bristol Rovers 2
Paulton Rovers 1 Bristol Rovers 2
Bristol City 3 Bristol Rovers 0
Gloucester City 2 Bristol Rovers 0
Bristol Rovers 1 Coventry City 2
Bristol Rovers' season so far
Lgcp: Ipswich Town (A).....Lost 1-3
Lg2: Oxford United (H)......Lost 0-2
Lg2: Barnet (A)...............Drew 1-1
Rovers Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Wycombe's record last season
Home - W:7 D:6 L:10 GF:37 GA:38 Pts:27
Away - W:4 D:4 L:15 GF:28 GA:50 Pts:16
Total - W:11 D:10 L:25 GF:65 GA:88 Pts:43
Final position: 21st in League One
Wycombe in pre-season
Farnborough 1 Wycombe 2
Forest Green 0 Wycombe 0
Luton Town 0 Wycombe 0
Wycombe 0 Fulham 3
Wycombe 0 QPR 3
Cambridge Utd 2 Wycombe 3
Wycombe 1 Brentford 4
Wycombe's season so far
Lgcp: Watford (A)...........Lost 0-1 (aet)
Lg2: York City (A)..........Won 3-1
Lg2: Gillingham (H).........Lost 0-1
Wycombe Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
In 29 previous meetings there have been 13 wins for Bristol Rovers, 12 for Wycombe and 4 draws.
At Adams Park the tally is 6 wins for the Pirates, 5 for the Blues and 4 draws.
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
2009/10: LG1 Wycombe 2 Bristol Rovers 1
2010/11: JPT Wycombe 3 Bristol Rovers 6
2011/12: JPT Wycombe 3 Bristol Rovers 1
The Man In The Middle
Saturday's referee is Andy Davies from Hampshire who was officiating in the Conference last season and has never taken charge of a Wycombe game before. So far this season he's issued 4 yellow and 0 red cards in 1 game.
Len: Wycombe 1 Bristol Rovers 0
Benny: Wycombe 0 Bristol Rovers 1