Preview: Wycombe v Cheltenham
Wycombe Wanderers go in search of their first home win of the new season when they host Cheltenham Town at Adams Park this weekend.
They fell to a disappointing (and that is something of an understatement) 1-0 defeat to Southend United at Roots Hall last time out. The visitors registered just a single shot on target during the 90 minutes and they will need to improve upon that if they are to take three points off the Robins.
Manager Gary Waddock made four changes to his starting line-up against the Shrimpers with defenders Adam Thompson and Matt Parsons both handed their full debuts after joining on loan from Watford and Crystal Palace respectively. Defender Grant Basey was recalled whilst striker Dennis Oli was given his first start of the season.
Left-back Charles Dunne and winger Lee Angol dropped to the bench whilst there was no place in the 18-man squad for centre-half Dave Winfield or striker Matt McClure. Oli replaced departed striker Stuart Beavon. Striker Jo Kuffour also made his debut as a substitute after signing on a short-term deal.
It's difficult to argue with the team selection save perhaps an unfit Anthony Stewart switching to centre-back instead of recalling Leon Johnson, who did eventually replace him as a second half substitute. What was difficult to swallow was the performance which did little to pacify the 351 supporters whose trip to the seaside was spoiled by the 90 minutes of football.
Both Waddock and midfielder Stuart Lewis made strong post-match statements and it is clear that the current on-pitch malaise is getting to them as much as it is the supporters who pay through the nose to watch it. The latter can do little to remedy the situation however and it's those who are rewarded handsomely for playing the game we all love who need to do something about it and let their actions, and not their words, speak for them.
The Robins are still considered something of a bogey side despite being doubled when the sides last met in League Two back in 2010/11. Two 2-1 victories helped the Chairboys on their way to automatic promotion. In the meantime our opponents have strengthened considerably under manager Mark Yates and they will be looking to go one better than their play-off final defeat to Crewe Alexandra at Wembley in May.
There have been quite a few memorable meetings between the sides. The first came in November 1974 in the F.A. Cup first round tie at Loakes Park and more than 5,000 fans (compare that figure with Saturday) saw goals from Tony Horseman, Micky Holifield and a Maradona-esque effort from right-back Paul Birdseye seal a 3-1 victory.
There was a 3-3 draw in the first league meeting between the sides at LP in October 1985 and a 5-3 win in January 1988. A year later we were thumped 4-0 by a side which included a rather rotund Andy Gray (latterly of Sky sexist fame). Their first visit to Adams Park on Boxing Day 1990 ended in a Kim Casey inspired 2-0 victory and marked the end of Nicky Evans' Wycombe career and the following year saw Glyn Creaser score one of the more spectacular own goals you`re ever likely to see to gift the visitors a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw.
Perhaps the most remembered is the play-off semi-final first leg defeat in May 2006. Shown live on TV after the Liverpool-West Ham United F.A. Cup final, it certainly felt like it was after the Lord Mayor`s show and a clearly mentally tired side were unable to prevent Cheltenham claiming a 2-1 victory. Despite being out-played in the second leg, the Robins held on for a goal-less draw to reach the final.
The dark days of that season, and the sad passing of two popular and well-known supporters in recent days, perhaps provide a greater perspective this weekend.
On the injury front, midfielder Matt Bloomfield is still struggling with the groin injury that has kept him out of the last two games. Goalkeeper Nikki Bull injured his leg at Southend last weekend and was unable to take his goal-kicks. Anthony Stewart meanwhile suffered another dead leg on a dead leg! The trio are all rated doubtful.
Defender Danny Foster had another run out in midweek following a knee injury and he will hope to be in contention for the trip to Chesterfield next weekend. Midfielder Sam Wood faces eight weeks on the sidelines with a knee injury whilst defender Marvin McCoy will miss the next ten weeks after damaging ankle ligaments and fracturing his fibula.
Matt McClure and loanee Adam Thompson are both unavailable after being called to the Northern Ireland under 21 side this weekend and this means Gary Waddock faces another dilemma of who to play at right-back. There seems to be little other option than to give Stewart another go, assuming he is fit of course. The line-up may look something like this:
Anthony Stewart - Gary Doherty - Leon Johnson - Grant Basey
Joel Grant - Stuart Lewis - Matt Spring - Matt Parsons
Dennis Oli - Richard Logan
Subs: Lee Harrison, Charles Dunne, Dave Winfield, Jesse Kewley-Graham, Lee Angol, Gareth Ainsworth, Jo Kuffour.
Cheltenham Town meanwhile are still smarting after their unbeaten start to the League Two season was ended by Accrington Stanley last weekend. They romped to a 3-0 victory at Whaddon Road and Mark Yates said afterwards: 'I'm not one for coming out and naming names, but we were hopeless today. Accrington were better than us, I think every punter in the crowd could see they wanted it more. We were poor and we've got a lot of work to do.'
Yates has a fully-fit squad to choose from and the starting line-up could feature three ex-Chairboys in defender Alan Bennett (calm down Ladies!), midfielder Marlon Pack and striker Chris Zebroski. The Robins side is likely to look a bit like this:
Sido Jombati - Steve Elliott - Alan Bennett - Billy Jones
Jermaine McGlashan - Russell Penn - Marlon Pack - Kaid Mohamed
Chris Zebroski - Shaun Harrad
Subs: Connor Roberts, Keith Lowe, Harry Hooman, Darren Carter, Sam Deering, Darryl Duffy, Jeff Goulding.
The league table currently shows Wycombe in 18th place with 3 points from 3 games and Cheltenham in 10th spot with 7 points from 4 games.
Cheltenham's record last season
Home - W:13 D:5 L:5 GF:32 GA:16 Pts:44
Away - W:10 D:3 L:10 GF:34 GA:34 Pts:33
Total - W:23 D:8 L:15 GF:66 GA:50 Pts:77
Final position: 6th in League Two (lost in play-off final)
The Robins in pre-season
Evesham United 1 Cheltenham 1
Port Talbot Town 1 Cheltenham 1
Cheltenham 1 Birmingham City 0
Cheltenham 0 Cardiff City 4
Cheltenham 0 Burnley 4
Solihull Moors 1 Cheltenham 2
Bishop's Cleeve 1 Cheltenham 1
Cheltenham's season so far
Lgcp: Franchise (H)...........Lost 1-1 (3-5 on pens)
Lg2: Dagenham (H)..........Won 2-0
Lg2: Torquay (A).............Drew 2-2
Lg2: Aldershot (A)............Won 1-0
Lg2: Accrington (H)...........Lost 0-3
Cheltenham 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
Lg2: Southend (A)...........Lost 0-1
Wycombe Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
In 29 previous meetings there have been 10 wins for Wycombe, 9 for Cheltenham and 10 draws.
In Wycombe, the tally is 6 wins for the Blues, 5 for the Robins and 5 draws.
1974/75 FAC: Wycombe 3 Cheltenham 1
1985/86 GLg: Wycombe 3 Cheltenham 3
1987/88 FAT: Wycombe 2 Cheltenham 3
1987/88 Con: Wycombe 5 Cheltenham 3
1988/89 Con: Wycombe 1 Cheltenham 0
1989/90 Con: Wycombe 0 Cheltenham 4
1990/91 Con: Wycombe 0 Cheltenham 2
1990/91 FAT: Wycombe 2 Cheltenham 1
1991/92 Con: Wycombe 2 Cheltenham 2
1992/93 FAT: Wycombe 3 Cheltenham 1
2002/03 Lg1: Wycombe 1 Cheltenham 1
2004/05 Lg2: Wycombe 1 Cheltenham 1
2005/06 Lg2: Wycombe 0 Cheltenham 0
2005/06 Poff: Wycombe 1 Cheltenham 2
2010/11 Lg2: Wycombe 2 Cheltenham 1
2011/12 JPT: Wycombe 1 Cheltenham 3
The Man In The Middle
Saturday's referee is Darren Sheldrake from Surrey who was promoted to the National List of Referees in 2009. Last season he took charge of Wycombe's 2-1 defeat at Charlton Athletic. So far this season he's issued 4 yellow and 0 red cards in 2 games.
Benny: Wycombe 0 Cheltenham 0
Len: Wycombe 1 Cheltenham 1
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