Preview: Southend v Wycombe
Wycombe Wanderers were grateful for an act of God which saved them from a thoroughly deserved defeat to Bristol Rovers last weekend.
An electrical storm with rain which reached biblical proportions saw the match abandoned midway through the second half at Adams Park. It is hopefully not a portent that some desperate fate awaits us in the future. The Chairboys were trailing 3-1 at the time thanks to a first half defensive display which swung from ineptitude to dark comedy. Eliot Richards must have run over a black cat to have seen his two spectacular goals chalked off, whilst the home side will think it is some payback after serious injuries to defender Marvin McCoy and midfielder Sam Wood.
The Wanderers' performance did come with extenuating circumstances with Anthony Stewart again forced to deputise at right-back. There were few alternatives with McCoy set for another ten weeks on the sidelines and defender Danny Foster well short of match fitness, but it's an experiment that is now likely to end with today's loan signing of Adam Thompson from Watford.
The decision to hand left-back Charles Dunne his home-debut and recall Dave Winfield to the centre of defence backfired spectacularly on manager Gary Waddock with both decisions making even less sense afterwards than they did before kick-off. Grant Basey had performed well at both York City and at home to Gillingham and the same can be said of Leon Johnson but they were bizarrely dropped to the bench and chaos reigned in their absence. The whole of the back four seemed to be in a permanent state of panic in the opening 45 minutes against the Pirates and they certainly plundered the treasure.
It wasn't a completely negative afternoon with striker Richard Logan finding the net for the first time this season (albeit now scrubbed out of the record books). The goal was created by some fabulous approach play from striker Stuart Beavon and midfielder Matt Spring and for a quarter of an hour afterwards Wycombe looked the better side and ought to have been in front with Beavon inexplicably choosing not to go for goal when only seven yards out and Spring whipping a free-kick inches past the post.
Nevertheless the focus on the training ground at Booker this week should be concentrated on our inability to defend, and next up is a trip to Roots Hall to face Southend United. Our last visit came in February 2011 when Scott Rendell's 89th penalty appeared to have rescued a point for the visitors only for midfielder Craig Easton to fire home an injury-time winner to record a 3-2 victory. That is the Shrimpers only home win over the Wanderers in the five meetings between the sides in Essex. Older fans will remember Steve McGavin running the show back in December 1997 and Danny Senda smashing home a spectacular late winner in September 2004.
On the injury front, midfielder Matt Bloomfield hasn't trained all week and is unlikely to play. Dunne of course returned from a dead leg last weekend and striker Matt McClure was named on the bench after recovering from tendonitis of the knee. There are a trio of players certain to be unavailable. Foster will need at least a fortnight before returning to first team action whilst midfielder Sam Wood faces another nine weeks on the sidelines with a knee injury. Defender Marvin McCoy will miss the next three months after damaging ankle ligaments and fracturing his fibula.
Gary Waddock faces yet another selection dilemma this weekend and will certainly need to earn his money. Only Gary Doherty can be sure he'll be in the back four whilst Leon Johnson will be hoping for a recall against one of his former clubs. New signing Jo Kuffour will be hoping to make his debut for the Chairboys after joining on a short-term deal this week. Given the options available I'm going to indulge myself and hope Waddock comes up with something like this:
Adam Thompson - Gary Doherty - Leon Johnson - Grant Basey
Joel Grant - Matt Spring - Stuart Lewis - Jo Kuffour
Stuart Beavon - Richard Logan
Southend United have not started the new campaign very well at all. After losing to Crewe Alexandra over two legs in the League Two play-offs last season they appear to be struggling with something of a hangover. They recorded their first point of the season with a 3-3 draw away at Northampton Town last weekend thanks to defender Ryan Cresswell's equaliser in the fifth minute of injury-time. They lost 1-0 at home to Accrington Stanley on the opening day and were then beaten 2-0 at Oxford United on the following Tuesday.
Shrimpers boss Paul Sturrock has several selection problems of his own. The almost permanently injured Barry Corr is doubtful with a groin problem whilst striker Freddy Eastwood is training again following a calf injury and could be involved. Defender-cum-Striker Mohsni Bilel is set to trial for Celtic and won't be involved. Midfielder Michael Timlin is available again after suspension. Winger Ryan Hall has been linked with a move away from the club and was only named on the bench against the Cobblers where he was joined by striker Neil Harris and ex-Wanderers' loanees Anthony Straker and Elliot Benyon. They could line up something like this:
Sean Clohessy - Mark Phillips - Ryan Cresswell - Luke Prosser
Ryan Leonard - John Spicer - Michael Timlin - David Martin
Kane Ferdinand- Brit Assombalonga
Subs from: Paul Smith, Anthony Straker, Graham Coughlan, Chris Barker, Kevan Hurst, Ryan Hall, Gavin Tomlin, Freddy Eastwood, Neil Harris, Elliot Benyon
The league table currently shows Wycombe in 14th place with 3 points from 2 games and Southend in 21st spot with 1 points from 3 games.
Southend's record last season
Home - W:12 D:6 L:5 GF:36 GA:18 Pts:42
Away - W:13 D:2 L:8 GF:41 GA:30 Pts:41
Total - W:25 D:8 L:13 GF:77 GA:48 Pts:83
Final position: 4th in League Two
The Shrimpers in pre-season
Southend 0 West Ham United 3
Stambridge United 0 Southend 5
Great Wakerling Rvs 2 Southend 3
Braintree Town 0 Southend 2
Real Madrid (C) 3 Southend 1
Rayo Vallecano (B) 1 Southend 1
Southend 2 Ipswich Town 1
Southend 1 Millwall 2
Charlton 3 Southend 2
Southend 0 Spurs XI 6
Southend's season so far
Lgcp: Peterborough (A).....Lost 0-4
Lg2: Accrington (H)...........Lost 0-1
Lg2: Oxford (A)................Lost 0-2
Lg2: Northampton (A)......Drew 3-3
Southend 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 9 previous meetings there have been 5 wins for Wycombe, 2 for Southend and 2 draws.
At Roots Hall the tally is 3 wins for the Chairboys, 1 win for the Shrimpers and 1 draw.
1997/98 FLT: Southend 0 Wycombe 1
1997/98 Lg1: Southend 1 Wycombe 2
2004/05 Lg2: Southend 1 Wycombe 2
2009/10 Lg1: Southend 1 Wycombe 1
2009/10 Lg1: Southend 3 Wycombe 2
The Man In The Middle
Saturday's referee is Stuart Attwell from Warwickshire who was promoted to the National List of Referees in 2007. Wycombe last encountered him during the 2009/10 campaign when he took charge of two games at Adams Park, a 1-0 defeat to Leeds United and a 2-2 draw with Swindon Town. So far this season he's issued 7 yellow and 0 red cards in 3 games.
Len: Southend 1 Wycombe 1
Benny: Southend 3 Wycombe 1