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Preview: Wycombe Wanderers v Oxford


It would be fair to say that Wycombe Wanderers goalless draw with bottom-of-the-table Barnet at Adams Park in midweek is not likely to live long in the memory.

Goalmouth incidents and goalscoring chances were in short supply in a bore draw with the visitors coming the closest to scoring midway through the second half when goalkeeper Nikki Bull pulled off a fine save to tip Bees' midfielder John Oster's shot around the post for a corner. Caretaker boss Gareth Ainsworth arguably had the hosts` best opportunity but could only poke straight at visiting goalkeeper Graham Stack although winger Junior Morais did go close shortly after coming on as a substitute.

Whilst a clean sheet and a point will be seen as positives, failing to beat Barnet at home, even with Edgar Davids in the centre of their midfield, cannot be seen as anything other than extremely worrying. On the face of it, it points to an impeding battle to retain our Football League status. There were however mitigating circumstances which predominately revolve around a seemingly never-ending injury list.

Ainsworth made four changes to his starting line-up following the defeat to Port Vale at the weekend with all of them enforced. Defender Danny Foster missed out with a groin strain whilst central defender Leon Johnson was ruled-out with a knee injury. Loan winger Bruno Andrade was absent with a bruised foot whilst striker Jo Kuffour was serving a one-match ban. Defenders Anthony Stewart and Dave Winfield, striker Matt McClure and Ainsworth himself all came in to start. Midfielder Sam Wood made a welcome return to the bench after missing two months with a knee ligament injury and replaced striker Dean Morgan who didn't make it to half-time after picking up a hamstring strain himself.

There may well be some who have mentally prepared themselves for this weekend's clash with the U's to be the last of Ainsworth's on-the-job application. There are suggestions however that he may well remain as caretaker for a while yet, and there has been a similar situation at Chesterfield with Tommy Wright still taking the reins almost two months after John Sheridan's departure (albeit Accrington Stanley's Paul Cook is set to be appointed at Whittingham Moor). Depending on results of course, there could soon be growing feeling of discontent at the lack of permanence / certainty over the managerial hot-seat at Adams Park.

Whilst many Oxford United fans expect their club to have already established a ten point lead at the top of League Two as they charge towards their rightful place in the upper echelons of English football, the reality is that things have moved on since 1986 and the U's are languishing in 18th place in the current standings, four points ahead of the Wanderers, having played a game more. After their failure to reach the play-offs last season, manager Chris Wilder is under considerable pressure and although their home form hasn't been too bad, they have lost their last six away league matches on the bounce.

Although there were a couple of trips over the border to face Headington United in the fifties, it wasn't until April 1995 that the Chairboys first hosted Oxford United at Adams Park. It came in Martin O'Neill's final season in charge and 7,683 fans (which remains the largest home attendance for a clash with the U's) saw Dave Carroll's close-range header just before half-time seal a 1-0 victory as the visitors' promotion challenge fell apart. The following season was a different story as United coasted to a 3-0 win against Alan Smith's unmotivated bunch.

Three and a half years later in February 2000 there was a dismal 1-0 home defeat under Lawrie Sanchez but that was to be the last time Oxford would taste victory in Bucks. Seven months on the two sides met in a live SKY game with goals from Andy Baird, Jermaine McSporran and a Steve Brown penalty earning a 3-1 win. Following relegation under Tony Adams in 2004 the sides renewed their acquaintances in September for another televised match which ended in a 1-1 draw courtesy of Nathan Tyson's equaliser from the penalty spot.

In February 2006 a certain Tommy Mooney returned to haunt his former club as he headed home to double the Wanderers lead following Kevin Betsy's first half strike with the hosts running out 2-1 winners. The scoreline was repeated in an F.A. Cup first round tie in the November of the same year when the U's returned as plucky non-league hopefuls against their Football League neighbours. They got all excited after cancelling out Will Antwi's opener with only four minutes remaining but hadn't counted on some magical wing-play from Betsy setting up Stefan Oakes to smash the winner past Billy Turley straight from the resulting kick off.

The last meeting between the two sides at Adams Park came in August 2010 when the newly promoted U's faced up with the newly relegated Blues. The visitors would have taken all three points had it not been for some sensational goalkeeping in the second half from Nikki Bull. The crossbar also came to the home side's rescue as the game finished in a goalless draw.

Ainsworth does at least have striker Jo Kuffour available again after serving a one-match ban. He may have to replace Dean Morgan, who is one of a number of doubts. It seems that striker Matt McClure played despite not being fully fit in midweek following a hamstring problem and along with Andrade, the trio of attackers will face fitness tests ahead of Saturday's clash. Both Foster and Johnson are also struggling for the weekend. Assuming none of them make it there could be starting roles for both Sam Wood and Richard Logan.

Striker Dennis Oli could return to full training next week after recovering from an ankle ligament injury. Full-back Marvin McCoy could also be joining him after fracturing his left fibula and damaging ankle ligaments. No timescale has been set on a return to action for midfielder Matt Bloomfield and he has spent time at Lilleshall as he battles with a groin problem. Full-back Grant Basey's surgery on an anterior cruciate ligament injury was successful but he won't play again this season as he continues his rehabilitation.

The Wanderers starting eleven could be as follows (4-4-2):

Nikki Bull

Anthony Stewart - Dave Winfield - Gary Doherty - Charles Dunne

Joel Grant - Josh Scowen - Stuart Lewis - Sam Wood

Jo Kuffour - Richard Logan

Subs: Matt Ingram, Kortney Hause, Jesse Kewley-Graham, Matt Spring, Gareth Ainsworth, Junior Morais, Oliver Taylor

Oxford United slumped to a 2-0 defeat at Rochdale in midweek and Chris Wilder was dealt a further blow with central defender Michael Raynes picking up his fifth booking of the season which rules him out of the clash at Adams Park. Like the Blues the U's have had far too many players in the treatment room this season. Things have improved with back-up goalkeeper Wayne Brown, defender Andrew Whing and loan midfielder Lee Cox all recovering from groin injuries over the past week or so.

I'm not entirely sure what the Oxford players have been up to but striker Deane Smalley is also very doubtful with a groin problem whilst the same injury rules-out both defender Damien Batt and wing-back Liam Davis. That leaves the ex-Wanderers duo of defender Michael Duberry, who will not be involved as he continues his recovery from surgery on a career-threatening neck injury, and striker Jon-Paul Pittman who is available after recovering from a hamstring injury.

The U's may line-up something like this (4-4-2):

Ryan Clarke

Andrew Whing - Jake Wright - Johnny Mullins - Tony Capaldi

Alfie Potter - Jake Forster-Caskey - Peter Leven - Sean Rigg

James Constable - Tom Craddock

Subs: Wayne Brown, Harry Worley, Luke O'Brien, Adam Chapman, Lee Cox, Simon Heslop, Jon-Paul Pittman


The league table currently shows Wycombe in 22nd place with 12 points from 13 games and Oxford in 18th spot with 16 points from 14 games.


Oxford Away Record.........W 1 - D 0 - L 6 - Pts 3...Ppg 0.43 (Rank-23)

Wycombe Home Record....W 1 - D 3 - L 2 - Pts 6...Ppg 1.00 (Rank-22)


Oxford's last five results (All Competitions)

Lg2: Gillingham (H)..........Drew 0-0

JPT: Cheltenham (A).........Won 4-2

Lg2: Port Vale (A)..............Lost 0-3

Lg2: Accrington (H)...........Won 5-0

Lg2: Rochdale (A)..............Lost 0-2


Wycombe's last five results (All Competitions)

Lg2: Torquay (H)................Won 2-1

JPT: Portsmouth (A)............Won 3-1

Lg2: Fleetwood (A).............Won 1-0

Lg2: Port Vale (A)...............Lost 1-4

Lg2: Barnet (H).................Drew 0-0


Oxford Goal Stats (18 games in all Competitions)

Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 19...Cups: 5...Total: 24

Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 26...Cups: 5...Total: 31

Goals Scored (Away).........Lg: 5.....Cups: 4...Total: 9

Goals Conceded (Away).....Lg: 17...Cups: 5...Total: 22

Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 4.....Cups: 2...Total: 6


Wycombe Goal Stats (15 games in all Competitions)

Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 12...Cups: 3...Total: 15

Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 20...Cups: 2...Total: 22

Goals Scored (Home).........Lg: 4.....Cups: 0...Total: 4

Goals Conceded (Home).....Lg: 5.....Cups: 0...Total: 5

Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 2.....Cups: 0...Total: 2


Oxford's Top Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)

Tom Craddock...........7

Alfie Potter................5

Deane Smalley..........3

Jake Forster-Caskey..3

Peter Leven...............2

Three other players have each scored 1 goal.


Wycombe's Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)

Dean Morgan............3

Joel Grant................2

OG..........................2

Gareth Ainsworth......1

Bruno Andrade.........1

Stuart Beavon..........1

Matt Bloomfield.........1

Gary Doherty...........1

Matt McClure............1

Josh Scowen............1

Sam Wood...............1


Oxford Shooting (Top-3) - League Only

Tom Craddock...19 on-target...15 off-target...1 against woodwork

Alfie Potter........13 on-target.....9 off-target...2 against woodwork

Sean Rigg.........12 on-target.....9 off-target...0 against woodwork


Wycombe Shooting (Top-3) - League Only


Joel Grant..............7 on-target...9 off-target...0 against woodwork

Dean Morgan.........8 on-target...4 off-target...0 against woodwork

Joe Kuffour............5 on-target...5 off-target...0 against woodwork


Shooting (Club) - League only

Oxford.........88 on target...73 off target...5 against w'work (Rank-6)

Wycombe.....44 on target...49 off target...0 against w'work (Rank-22)


Most Assists

Oxford - James Constable.....................4

Wycombe - Ainsworth, Grant & Lewis......2


League Form Guide

All Season


Oxford........Pld: 14...W: 5...D: 1...L: 8...Pts: 16...Pts per game: 1.14

Wycombe....Pld: 13...W: 3...D: 3...L: 7...Pts: 12...Pts per game: 0.92


Last Five league Games

Oxford.............WDLWL - 7 points (Rank-14)

Wycombe........DWWLD - 8 points (Rank-11)


Last Five League Games (Away)

Oxford................LLLLL - 0 points (Rank-24)


Last Five League Games (Home)

Wycombe.........DLDWD - 6 points (Rank-16)


Against Top Half Opposition

Oxford.........Pld: 10...Pts: 4...Pts per game: 0.40...(Rank-21)

Wycombe.....Pld: 8...Pts: 10...Pts per game: 1.25...(Rank-10)


Against Bottom Half Opposition

Oxford..........Pld: 4...Pts: 12...Pts per game: 3.00...(Rank-1)

Wycombe......Pld: 5...Pts: 2.....Pts per game: 0.40...(Rank-24)


Previous Meetings

In 16 previous meetings there have been 7 wins for Wycombe, 3 for Oxford and 6 draws.

At Adams Park there the Tally is 4 wins for the Blues, 2 for Oxford and 2 draws.

1994/95 LG1: Wycombe 1 Oxford 0

1995/96 LG1: Wycombe 0 Oxford 3

1999/00 LG1: Wycombe 0 Oxford 1

2000/01 LG1: Wycombe 3 Oxford 1

2004/05 LG2: Wycombe 1 Oxford 1

2005/06 LG2: Wycombe 2 Oxford 1

2006/07 FAC: Wycombe 2 Oxford 1

2010/11 LG2: Wycombe 0 Oxford 0


The Man In The Middle

Saturday's referee is Neil Swarbrick from Lancashire who was promoted to the National List of Referees in 2005 and the Select Group in 2011. Normally to be found officiating in the Premier League or the Championship, his most recent Wycombe game was the 3-1 home win over Southend United that secured promotion for the Chairboys in May 2011. During the current campaign he's issued 0 red and 26 yellow cards in 8 appearances.


Predictions

Benny: Wycombe 0 Oxford 0

Len: Wycombe 1 Oxford 1





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The Journalist

Writer: Benny & Len Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday October 25 2012

Time: 1:35PM

 

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