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Preview: Wycombe Wanderers v Rochdale


Wycombe Wanderers did what they had to do in midweek as they avoided defeat against relegation rivals Aldershot Town. The goal-less draw at the Recreation Ground was no cause for celebration but it ensured that the club remain above the relegation zone by the narrow margin of three goals difference.

The clean sheet is remarkable given a) the abject inability to come even close under previous boss Gary Waddock; b) the makeshift defence which saw a central midfielder at right-back, a left-back at centre-back and a left midfielder at left back; and c) the departure of goalkeeper Nikki Bull.

Whether the clean sheet can be put down to the failings of the opposition or the work of the team and manager is open to debate but it does give a base from which to build and if the horrific injury list can soon be shortened by the return of much-needed reinforcements then there can be some cautious optimism for the future. There was at least good news in the return of midfielder Stuart Lewis from a hamstring tweak and he did an admirable job filling in at right-back.

This week has also brought some certainty at the club. Gareth Ainsworth has, as expected, been confirmed as the permanent successor to Gary Waddock and appointed on a deal until the end of the season. His first aim must be getting some of his players back on the field so he can pick a team capable of winning games in League Two and protecting our Football League status this season.

There is also a need to bring new players to strengthen the squad, even if only on loan, but with the lack of finance available to him, that will be yet another obstacle to overcome. One thing is not in any doubt and that's Gareth Ainsworth's fighting qualities.

The same can't be said for goalkeeper Nikki Bull, whose departure from the club has now been confirmed. The player himself has said he spoke to Gareth Ainsworth on the Monday following the defeat to Oxford United. He explained he 'was unhappy due to footballing and personal reasons and needed a break' Whether there is any difference between this and 'expressing a desire to not play for the club anymore.' is perhaps a debate for the pedants.

What isn't up for debate is that the player has left the club with it at its lowest footballing ebb in more than two decades. The 'footballing reasons' behind Bull's departure can only be guessed at given the vagueness of his statement but it smacks of 'I'm taking my ball and I'm going home.' It also feels like a case of 'a rat deserting a sinking ship.'

There may well be entirely understandable 'personal reasons' but we are all faced with very difficult personal issues during our lives and some of us have to find a way to deal with them whilst still continuing with our working lives, no matter how hard it is. A once loved and respected player has now left the club with his reputation tarnished and it is extremely sad that we have lost a great goalkeeper in these circumstances.

Rochdale travel to Adams Park for an eighth time to renew their acquaintance with the Chairboys. Like the Blues they were relegated from League One last season but they did change their manager back in January. John Coleman made the brave decision to leave Accrington Stanley after twelve years to become manager at Spotland but he was unable to prevent them from falling through the trap door. They have however made a much better fist of it in League Two this season and will be looking for revenge after being comfortably beaten on their last visit to Bucks back in January.

That day they were beaten 3-0 as the hosts put in one of their better displays of what was a miserable campaign. Stuart Beavon broke the deadlock in the first half after pouncing on some dreadful defending from Kevin Amankwaah to lob the goalkeeper. Dave Winfield doubled the lead after the break when he turned home Matt Bloomfield's corner and Beavon completed the scoring with a sensational piece of skill to find the top corner from just inside the box.

The first meeting between the two sides came in April 1994 and it was at the third time of asking with two previous fixtures postponed, firstly due to snow, and then rain. The game ended in a 1-1 draw after goalkeeper Paul Hyde allowed Mark Stuart's header to squirm through his hands to cancel out Simon Garner's first half opener. There was then more than a ten year gap until the sides met again at Adams Park in August 2004. It was worth the wait for the visitors who beat Tony Adams' side 3-0 with Grant Holt opening the scoring before two goals in injury-time gave Dale a flattering win.

It was a very different story in December 2005 as John Gorman's men claimed a thoroughly deserved 3-0 victory of their own. Striker Tommy Mooney had already bagged a brace before Grant Holt was sent off and striker Charlie Griffin completed the scoring late-on. Thirteen months later the sides shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw with Jermaine Easter scoring for the Blues in a game which came just four days before the League Cup semi-final first leg with reigning English Champions Chelsea.

The following two encounters at Adams Park in January 2008 and March 2009 both ended in a 1-0 defeats. They were both suffered in painful fashion too as the visitors notched the winner in injury-time. The first came when defender Craig Woodman's unnecessary challenge on Muirhead resulted in a penalty which Tom Kennedy coolly slotted past goalkeeper Frank Fielding. The second came after goalkeeper Marek Štech had kept the visitors at bay only to slice his clearance and the ball eventually found its way to Adam Le Fondre, who finished with his usual aplomb.

Here is the latest injury list Gareth Ainsworth will be pondering over ahead of the weekend clash with Dale...

Stuart Lewis (Midfielder) - available (returned from a hamstring strain in midweek)

Leon Johnson (Centre Back) - knee injury - doubtful

Dean Morgan (Attacker) - hamstring injury - doubtful

Matt McClure (Attacker) - hamstring injury - very doubtful

Nikki Bull (Goalkeeper) - has now left the club

Anthony Stewart (Right / Centre Back) - suspected muscle injury (could miss the next fortnight)

Gary Doherty (Centre Back) - back injury (no timescale for recovery given)

Danny Foster (Right Back) - groin injury (no timescale for recovery given)

Marvin McCoy (Right Back) - ankle ligament injury (could return to full training in the next week or two)

Grant Basey (Left-Back) - anterior cruciate ligament injury (ruled-out for the rest of the season after surgery)

Matt Bloomfield (Midfielder) - groin injury (no timescale for recovery given)

Jo Kuffour (Attacker) - ankle ligament injury (could miss the next three weeks)

The Wanderers lined-up like this last time out (4-4-1-1):

Jordan Archer

Stuart Lewis - Dave Winfield - Charles Dunne - Sam Wood

Joel Grant - Josh Scowen - Matt Spring - Bruno Andrade

Gareth Ainsworth

Dennis Oli

Subs: Lee Harrison, Kortney Hause, Leon Johnson, Jesse Kewley-Graham, Dean Morgan, Oliver Taylor, Richard Logan

Rochdale will have been buoyed by their midweek comeback away at Port Vale where they claimed a point after trailing 2-0 with less than twenty minutes remaining. They took full advantage after the hosts were reduced to ten men with striker Bobby Grant quickly pulling a goal back before midfielder Andrew Tutte fired a daisy-cutter into the bottom corner of the net with just three minutes remaining. The 2-2 draw at Vale Park leaves them in 9th place in League Two just a point off the play-off places. They have won four of their eight away league games so far this season, scoring 16 goals in the process.

Bobby Grant was able to continue in attack after recovering from a knock whilst striker Ray Putterill returned to the bench after recovering from a groin problem. It leaves John Coleman with just two players unavailable for the clash with the Blues. Defender Reece Gray continues his rehabilitation after breaking his leg whilst goalkeeper Matt Edwards is still recovering from a wrist injury. Dale may line-up something like this (4-3-3):

Josh Lillis

Rhys Bennett - Peter Cavanagh - Ryan Edwards - Phil Edwards

Andrew Tutte - Jason Kennedy - Kevin McIntrye

George Donnelly- Dele Adebola - Bobby Grant

Subs: Ben Smith, Joe Rafferty, Matty Pearson, Brian Barry-Murphy, Ashley Grimes, Joel Logan, Ray Putterill


Here are the stats...


The league table currently shows Wycombe in 22nd place with 13 points from 15 games and Rochdale in 9th spot with 24 points from 16 games.


Rochdale Away Record....W 4 - D 2 - L 2 - Pts 14...Ppg 1.75 (Rank-4)

Wycombe Home Record...W 1 - D 3 - L 3 - Pts 6....Ppg 0.86 (Rank-23)


Rochdale's last five results (All Competitions)

Lg2: Plymouth (A).............Lost 1-3

Lg2: Oxford Utd (H)...........Won 2-0

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

FAC: Morecambe (A)........Drew 1-1

Lg2: Port Vale (A)............Drew 2-2


Wycombe's last five results (All Competitions)

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

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

Lg2: Oxford (H).................Lost 1-3

FAC: Crewe (A).................Lost 1-4

Lg2: Aldershot (A)............Drew 0-0


Rochdale Goal Stats (20 games in all Competitions)

Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 23...Cups: 7...Total: 30

Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 21...Cups: 8...Total: 29

Goals Scored (Away).........Lg: 16...Cups: 1...Total: 17

Goals Conceded (Away).....Lg: 16...Cups: 1...Total: 17

Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 5.....Cups: 0...Total: 5


Wycombe Goal Stats (18 games in all Competitions)

Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 13...Cups: 4...Total: 17

Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 23...Cups: 6...Total: 29

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

Goals Conceded (Home).....Lg: 8.....Cups: 0...Total: 8

Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 3.....Cups: 0...Total: 3


Rochdale's Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)

Bobby Grant.............7

Dele Adebola............5

Andrew Tutte............5

Jason Kennedy.........4

George Donnelly.......3

Ashley Grimes..........3

Ray Putterill..............2

Kevin McIntyre..........1


Wycombe's Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)

Joel Grant................3

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

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

Gareth Ainsworth......1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Spring..............1

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


Rochdale Shooting (Top-3) - All Comps

Bobby Grant........22 on-target...16 off-target...4 against woodwork

George Donnelly..15 on-target...21 off-target...0 against woodwork

Andrew Tuttle......14 on-target...17 off-target...1 against woodwork


Wycombe Shooting (Top-3) - All Comps

Joel Grant...........8 on-target...12 off-target...0 against woodwork

Dean Morgan.....10 on-target.....5 off-target...0 against woodwork

Joe Kuffour..........5 on-target.....7 off-target...2 against woodwork


Shooting (Club) - League only

Rochdale....81 on target...104 off target...10 against w'work (Rank-7)

Wycombe...47 on target.....55 off target....0 against w'work (Rank-24)


Most Assists

Rochdale - Jason Kennedy.....................5

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


League Form Guide

All Season


Rochdale.....Pld: 16...W: 6...D: 6...L: 4...Pts: 24...Pts per game: 1.50

Wycombe....Pld: 15...W: 3...D: 4...L: 8...Pts: 13...Pts per game: 0.87


Last Five league Games

Rochdale.........LLWDD - 5 points (Rank-17)

Wycombe........WLDLD - 5 points (Rank-18)


Last Five League Games (Away)

Rochdale......WWWLD - 10 points (Rank-3)


Last Five League Games (Home)

Wycombe.........LDWDL - 5 points (Rank-20)


Against Top Half Opposition

Rochdale.......Pld: 7...Pts: 9.....Pts per game: 1.29...(Rank-8)

Wycombe......Pld: 8...Pts: 10...Pts per game: 1.25...(Rank-11)


Against Bottom Half Opposition

Rochdale.......Pld: 9...Pts: 15...Pts per game: 1.67...(Rank-11)

Wycombe......Pld: 7...Pts: 3.....Pts per game: 0.43...(Rank-24)


Previous Meetings

In 14 previous meetings there have been 6 wins for Wycombe, 4 for Rochdale and 4 draws.

At Adams Park the tally is 2 wins for the Blues, 3 for Dale and 2 draws.

1993/94: Lg2 Rochdale 2 Wycombe 2

1993/94: Lg2 Wycombe 1 Rochdale 1

2004/05: Lg2 Wycombe 0 Rochdale 3

2004/05: Lg2 Rochdale 1 Wycombe 1

2005/06: Lg2 Rochdale 1 Wycombe 2

2005/06: Lg2 Wycombe 3 Rochdale 0

2006/07: Lg2 Rochdale. 0 Wycombe 2

2006/07: Lg2 Wycombe 1 Rochdale 1

2007/08: Lg2 Wycombe 0 Rochdale 1

2007/08: Lg2 Rochdale 0 Wycombe 1

2008/09: Lg2 Rochdale 0 Wycombe 1

2008/09: Lg2 Wycombe 0 Rochdale 1

2011/12: Lg1 Rochdale 2 Wycombe 1

2011/12: Lg1 Wycombe 3 Rochdale 0


The Man In The Middle

Saturday's referee is Keith Stroud from Hampshire who was promoted to the National List of Referees in 2004. Last season he took charge of Wycombe's 1-0 defeat at home to Brentford and their 2-0 loss at Bournemouth. During the current campaign he's issued 1 red and 41 yellow cards in 12 appearances.


Predictions

Benny: Wycombe 0 Rochdale 1

Len: Wycombe 1 Rochdale 2




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The Journalist

Writer: Benny & Len Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday November 8 2012

Time: 2:43PM

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