Writer: Benny & Len
Date:Thursday October 18 2012
The feelgood factor at Wycombe Wanderers was cranked up another notch last weekend as caretaker boss Gareth Ainsworth led his side to an impressive 1-0 victory away at high-flyers Fleetwood Town.
The clash at Highbury Avenue brought back nightmares of the still fresh 2-0 defeat to the then Conference outfit in the F.A. Cup last season but things have changed considerably since then. Both sides are now competing at the same level and had made very different starts to the new campaign. The Cod Army can boast a far greater financial muscle as the Chairboys continue to live life by making the most of what they have under the new regime. Yet in spite of that, the visitors returned to Bucks with three deserved points tucked under their arms.
Loanee Bruno Andrade kept his place in the side ahead of the gaffer and it is selection decisions such as these which are paying dividends as inside ten minutes he had notched his first career goal in the Oxford and Cambridge blue. It proved to be the winner but it arguably shouldn't have been as strikers Dean Morgan and Jo Kuffour were both denied goals by a man-of-the-match performance from home goalkeeper Scott Davies. Whilst victory was celebrated hard, it was the manner which brought most joy, and most specifically the first clean sheet away from home in 18 months!
Ainsworth made three changes from the side that knocked League one Portsmouth out of the Football League Trophy last week. Central defenders Gary Doherty and Leon Johnson were both recalled, as was midfielder Stuart Lewis after he recovered from a rib injury. Defenders Anthony Stewart and Dave Winfield and midfielder Matt Spring dropped to the bench. Goalkeeper Nikki Bull, Bruno Andrade and Dean Morgan all kept their places in the side.
The next week is likely to shape the immediate future of Wycombe Wanderers, with some supporters already spoiling themselves with dreams of a play-off place. Victory at Vale Park this weekend would arguably be even more impressive than last weekend's win at Fleetwood and with back-to-back home games against winless, whipping boys Barnet and our plucky non-league neighbours Oxford United to follow, Ainsworth has every chance of being appointed as the next permanent manager of the club. There are currently very few people who would be unhappy if this came to pass.
Port Vale have been in administration since March and endured a tough summer with some of their best players leaving for pastures new. There was a failed takeover and the administrators were forced to re-negotiate temporary contracts for the new players manager Micky Adams had lined-up. He did well to guide the club to a 12th placed finish in League Two last season but he has excelled himself so far this season despite having a squad restricted to just twenty two players due to administration.
There is hope that the club may soon be able to come out of administration following the announcement this week that 'businessman' Paul Wildes' Alchemy Investment Group have been named as the preferred bidder. With a name like that you do have to wonder whether they are simply jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. It all serves as yet another reminder of how lucky Wycombe Wanderers is to have a) not gone through the heartache of administration b) due to the hard work and dedication of the Trust.
The Chairboys have made half-a-dozen previous visits to the 'Wembley of the North' and the current record is a symmetrical won one, lost one and drawn four. The defeat came on our last trip back in November 2010 when Dave Winfield's first goal for the club wasn't enough to prevent us falling to a 2-1 loss courtesy of a brace from defender John McCombe. The first visit was back in September 2000 when a spectacular curling 20-yard effort from Andy Rammell sealed a 1-0 victory.
Sandwiched in-between are four 1-1 draws with a great run from Stuart Roberts setting up Dannie Bulman to level in February 2002 before Richard Harris unleashed the fury to level matters in April 2003. Five months later in September was one of the bizarre two 'extra' matches Ivor Beeks promised to Lawrie Sanchez after he'd sacked him in attempt to improve the clubs' position. Charlie Mapes scored the second half equaliser as the visitors again came from behind to take a point.
The last draw was all the more significant as it came in April 2009 as Peter Taylor's side closed in on automatic promotion from League Two. A rather nervy performance was perhaps understandable with a possible promotion at stake should the three points have been taken. Vale had endured a difficult season under manager Dean Glover and there was the comical site of a hundred or so home fans chucking their season ticket booklets on the pitch in a rather empty protest during their last home game of the campaign. The Blues again had to come from behind with great work from substitute Jon-Paul Pittman setting up loan midfielder Lee Sawyer to smash home a priceless equaliser.
Gareth Ainsworth is very unlikely to make any changes to what is proving to be a winning formula against one of his former clubs this weekend. It is possible there will be just the one change in the 18-man squad with striker Matt McClure making a welcome return to training after recovering from a hamstring strain and he could replace Oliver Taylor on the bench. There is more bad news with still no end in for midfielder Matt Bloomfield as he battles with a troublesome groin strain. It seems there is now no realistic timescale on a return to action and we wish Matt all the best in his recovery from a nasty injury.
There is also a quartet of players still sidelined through injury although there is good news with midfielder Sam Wood leaving the treatment room and getting back into action after knee ligament injury. He could be back in action for the F.A. Cup first round in November. By then striker Dennis Oli will be hoping to have returned to training after an ankle ligament injury. Full-back Marvin McCoy could also be joining him after fracturing his left fibula and damaging ankle ligaments back in August. Full-back Grant Basey's surgery on an anterior cruciate ligament injury was successful but he will miss the rest of the season as he continues his rehabilitation.
The Wanderers starting eleven is extremely likely to be as follows (4-4-2):
Danny Foster - Gary Doherty - Leon Johnson - Charles Dunne
Joel Grant - Josh Scowen - Stuart Lewis - Bruno Andrade
Dean Morgan - Jo Kuffour
Subs: Matt Ingram, Anthony Stewart, Dave Winfield, Matt Spring, Gareth Ainsworth, Junior Morais, Matt McClure.
Port Vale's start to this season has been little short of miraculous. They currently sit in second place in the League Two table, just three points behind leaders Gillingham and have lost just twice in the league all season. They are currently on a five match unbeaten run in all competitions and looked mightly impressive in their 3-0 victory over Oxford United on Monday evening. Not only do they have striker Tom Pope in the form of his career with 13 goals to his name already (he scored just five in the whole of last season) but in winger Ashley Vincent and Jennison Myrie-Williams they create a bucket load of chances.
The experienced Adams has endured many tough times as a boss, most recently with Sheffield United, but those trials and tribulations have clearly held him in good stead as he continues to defy the odds at Vale Park. He will need it this weekend as he has just 16 players to choose from. Midfielder Sam Morsy was lucky not to see red on Monday but the yellow card he did receive was his fifth of the campaign and he serves a one-match ban. Midfielder Ryan Burge was forced to come off with a medial knee ligament injury and having missed the whole of last season with a similar problem, he is very unlikely to be risked this weekend.
That leaves Adams with just two central midfielders left to pick from. Chris Shuker has been benched in recent weeks due to tiredness but will come back in. He'll be partnered by 20-year-old Kingsley James who will be making the first ever league start of his career! First choice goalkeeper Chris Neal is likely to wear a face mask again following a facial injury. Defender Doug Loft has been ruled-out for another fortnight with a calf injury whilst midfielder Darren Murphy is sidelined with a hamstring problem. Defender Gareth Owen missed out with a knock and he remains doubtful and it is likely that Adams will name just five substitutes against the Chairboys. The Valiants may line-up something like this (4-4-2):
Richard Duffy - Clayton McDonald - John McCombe - Rob Taylor
Jennison Myrie-Williams - Chris Shuker - Kingsley James - Ashley Vincent
Louis Dodds - Tom Pope
Subs: Sam Johnson, Adam Yates, Joe Davis, Ryan Lloyd, Ben Williamson
The league table currently shows Wycombe in 20th place with 11 points from 11 games and Port Vale in 2nd spot with 26 points from 12 games.
Port Vale Home Record.....W 3 - D 2 - L 1 - Pts 11...Ppg 1.83 (Rank-6)
Wycombe Away Record....W 2 - D 0 - L 4 - Pts 6.....Ppg 1.00 (Rank-17)
Port Vale's last five results (All Competitions)
Lg2: Bradford (A)...............Won 1-0
Lg2: Dagenham (H)...........Drew 1-1
Lg2: Exeter (A)..................Won 2-0
JPT: Walsall (A)..................Won 2-2 (6-5 on pens)
Lg2: Oxford (H)..................Won 3-0
Wycombe's last five results (All Competitions)
Lg2: Dag & Red (A).............Lost 0-3
Lg2: Plymouth (H).............Drew 1-1
Lg2: Torquay (H)................Won 2-1
JPT: Portsmouth (A)............Won 3-1
Lg2: Fleetwood (A).............Won 1-0
Port Vale Goal Stats (15 games in all Competitions)
Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 28...Cups: 5...Total: 33
Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 12...Cups: 5...Total: 17
Goals Scored (Home).........Lg: 14...Cups: 3...Total: 17
Goals Conceded (Home).....Lg: 6.....Cups: 3...Total: 9
Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 5.....Cups: 1...Total: 6
Wycombe Goal Stats (13 games in all Competitions)
Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 11...Cups: 3...Total: 14
Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 16...Cups: 2...Total: 18
Goals Scored (Away).........Lg: 7.....Cups: 3...Total: 10
Goals Conceded (Away).....Lg: 11...Cups: 2...Total: 13
Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 1.....Cups: 0...Total: 1
Port Vale's Top Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
J Myrie Williams.......5
Four other players have each scored 1 goal.
Wycombe's Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Port Vale Shooting (Top-3) - League Only
Tom Pope...........18 on-target.....5 off-target...1 against woodwork
Louis Dodds........12 on-target.....4 off-target...0 against woodwork
J Myrie Williams....7 on-target....11 off-target...3 against woodwork
Wycombe Shooting (Top-3) - League Only
Dean Morgan.........8 on-target...3 off-target...0 against woodwork
Joel Grant..............5 on-target...8 off-target...0 against woodwork
Joe Kuffour............5 on-target...5 off-target...0 against woodwork
Shooting (Club) - League only
Port Vale......57 on target...43 off target...6 against w'work (Rank-20)
Wycombe.....38 on target...42 off target...0 against w'work (Rank-21)
Port Vale - Myrie Williams & Shuker.......5
Wycombe - Ainsworth, Grant & Lewis.....2
League Form Guide
Port Vale.....Pld: 12...W: 8...D: 2...L: 2...Pts: 26...Pts per game: 2.17
Wycombe....Pld: 11...W: 3...D: 2...L: 6...Pts: 11...Pts per game: 1.00
Last Five league Games
Port Vale........LWDWW - 10 points (Rank-4)
Wycombe..........LLDWW - 7 points (Rank-13)
Last Five League Games (Home)
Port Vale..........DWLDW - 8 points (Rank-8)
Last Five League Games (Away)
Wycombe...........LLLLW - 3 points (Rank-21)
Against Top Half Opposition
Port Vale......Pld: 6...Pts: 10...Pts per game: 1.67...(Rank-3)
Wycombe.....Pld: 6...Pts: 7.....Pts per game: 1.17...(Rank-14)
Against Bottom Half Opposition
Port Vale.......Pld: 6...Pts: 16...Pts per game: 2.67...(Rank-1)
Wycombe......Pld: 5...Pts: 4.....Pts per game: 0.80...(Rank-22)
In 12 previous meetings there have been 5 wins for Wycombe, 2 for Port Vale and 5 draws.
At Vale Park the tally is 1 win for Vale, 1 for the Blues and 4 draws.
2000/01 LG1: Port Vale 0 Wycombe 1
2001/02 LG1: Port Vale 1 Wycombe 1
2002/03 LG1: Port Vale 1 Wycombe 1
2003/04 LG1: Port Vale 1 Wycombe 1
2008/09 LG2: Port Vale 1 Wycombe 1
2010/11 LG2: Port Vale 2 Wycombe 1
The Man In The Middle
Saturday's referee is Carl Boyeson from East Yorkshire who was promoted to the National List of Referees in 2002. His most recent Wycombe game was a 4-3 defeat at Franchise in November 2011. During the current campaign he's issued 0 red and 27 yellow cards in 10 appearances.
Benny: Port Vale 2 Wycombe 1
Len: Port Vale 2 Wycombe 1
Date:Thursday October 18 2012
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