Preview: Wycombe Wanderers v Morecambe
Wycombe Wanderers will be looking to bounce back after being knocked out of the Football League Trophy at the hands of Yeovil Town in midweek when they host Morecambe in a League Two fixture at Adams Park on Saturday.
The Blues had gone into the midweek cup tie on the back of three successive victories in League Two, the last of which was a rather enjoyable 2-0 win over Bristol Rovers in a re-arranged clash at Adams Park. Player boss Gareth Ainsworth made five changes to his starting line-up against the Glovers with full-back Marvin McCoy making a welcome return after almost four months out following ankle surgery. He came in at right-back with the versatile Charles Dunne switching to centre-back alongside Dave Winfield, allowing Leon Johnson to be rested.
17-year-old Junior Morias was handed just his second ever start on the right wing, whilst midfielders Jesse Kewley-Graham and Matt Spring were both recalled, the latter returning from a calf injury. Striker Ade Azeez was also given his full debut following his loan move from Charlton Athletic. Winger Joel Grant was rested after suffering from double vision at the weekend whilst striker Matt McClure dropped to the bench. Midfielders Josh Scowen and Stuart Lewis both sat it out through suspension after picking up their fifth bookings of the campaign at the weekend. Striker Jo Kuffour made a welcome return to the bench after recovering from an ankle ligament injury but was unused.
Sadly the changes made little difference as the Wanderers' abject record at Huish Park continued. The home side were already on top before Matt Spring was sent-off for a high challenge on Gavin Williams. The ten-men put up little resistance after that with the opening goal arriving inside five minutes and Town then doubling their lead on the stroke of half-time. The hosts cantered through the second half to record a deserved 2-0 victory and the 94 fans who travelled to Somerset had to settle for handshakes instead.
The Football League Trophy has long since been treated with contempt by most of the clubs who take part in it, and it leaves supporters of Wycombe with the opportunity to trot out the 'league is far more important' cliches. Of course it is now the only remaining competition in which the club is competing and the glorious prospect of a top half finish this season is sure to have the football mad folk of the Chair Metropolis giddy with excitement.
That excitement begins with a visit from Morecambe.They arrive on the back of a 2-1 defeat to League One Coventry City in an F.A. Cup second round tie last weekend. It will be just the fifth time the two sides have met at Adams Park with the visitors still searching for their first taste of victory. You have to go back almost twenty years for the first ever meeting which came in an F.A. Trophy second round replay on a chilly February evening in 1993. A crowd of 4,490 saw the game and it remains the highest attendance between the two clubs.
Martin O'Neill's double chasing side had somehow escaped from Christie Park with a 1-1 draw in the first tie and had to rely on a couple of superb saves from goalkeeper Paul Hyde to keep them on level terms in the first half of the replay. A minute before half-time the Blues took the lead against the run of play when Keith Scott flicked on Dave Carroll's corner and centre-back Andy Kerr bundled the ball home at the far stick. Early in the second half Scott slotted home after being put through on goal to double the hosts lead. Wycombe held on comfortably to win the game 2-0 and finished the most glorious of seasons by lifting the trophy at Wembley after thumping Runcorn 4-1.
The two sides didn't meet again until December 2007. The League Two fixture was switched to a Friday evening to accommodate our tenants and came off the back of the 6-0 drubbing at Stockport County. The Chairboys broke the deadlock after 19 minutes when Russell Martin's right-wing cross was headed home by striker Scott McGleish. The three points were sealed with just over twenty minutes remaining when Sam Stockley raided down the right to feed striker John Sutton and he curled a beautiful shot into the top corner of the net from the edge of the box to seal a 2-0 victory.
The next encounter came on the opening day of the 2008/09 season in Peter Taylor's first competitive game in charge of the Blues. Midfielder Lewwwwwis Spence marked his debut with a goal as he fired the hosts in front after 34 minutes with a low shot into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the box. The visitors fought back after the break and snatched a deserved leveller midway through the second half when defender David Artell bundled the ball home from six yards. It was enough to earn them a 1-1 draw.
The last meeting was also on the opening day of the season, this time in August 2010 and again the Wanderers enjoyed a 2-0 win. Striker Scott Rendell repeated the feat of Spence as he scored on his debut, predictably slotting home from the penalty spot on 36 minutes after Matt Bloomfield had been brought down in the box by Chris Shuker. Striker Ben Strevens saw his shot crash against the crossbar shortly afterwards but the hosts had to wait until six minutes before full-time before wrapping up the points. Substitute Jon-Paul Pittman received the ball on the right before cutting in and smashing a low shot past visiting goalkeeper Barry Roche from twenty yards.
Gareth Ainsworth is certain to make changes against the Shrimps this weekend. Leon Johnson is set to return alongside Dave Winfield in the heart of the defence after being rested whilst Josh Scowen and Stuart Lewis are both available again after suspension. Matt McClure is also set to return alongside Morgan in attack although Jo Kuffour could also be an option, having recovered from injury. Joel Grant should hopefully be given the all-clear to make his comeback after being rested in midweek as a pre-caution.
Marvin McCoy, Jesse Kewley-Graham and Junior Morias are all likely to drop back to the bench. Ade Azeez won't be involved after picking up a hamstring strain in midweek and he has returned to parent club Charlton Athletic for assessment and treatment. Matt Spring serves the first of a three match ban which will mean he won't be available again until Boxing Day. Anthony Stewart and Gary Doherty aren't likely to return for at least another fortnight whilst Danny Foster might not play again until the new year.
Here's the current list of player availability...
Jo Kuffour (Attacker) - available (named on the bench in midweek after recovering from an ankle ligament injury)
Josh Scowen (Midfielder) - available (after serving a one match ban in midweek)
Stuart Lewis (Midfielder) - available (after serving a one match ban in midweek)
Leon Johnson (Centre Back) - available (after being rested in midweek)
Joel Grant - doubtful (substituted at half-time last weekend after suffering double vision and rested in midweek as a precaution)
Matt Spring (Midfielder) - suspended (serves the first of a three match ban after being shown a straight red card in midweek)
Anthony Stewart (Right / Centre Back) - ruled out with a thigh injury (expected to return to training by the end of next week)
Gary Doherty (Centre Back) - ruled out with a back injury (expected to return to training by the end of next week)
Ade Azeez (Attacker) - ruled-out with a hamstring injury (has returned to parent club Charlton Athletic for assessment and treatment)
Danny Foster (Right Back) - ruled out with a knee injury (will be at least three weeks until the bruising around the bone subsides and the injury can be assessed fully)
Matt Bloomfield (Midfielder) - ruled out with a groin injury (will be sidelined for at least two more months)
Grant Basey (Left-Back) - ruled out with an anterior cruciate knee ligament injury (continues his rehabilitation following surgery and is unlikely to play again this season)
The Chairboys starting eleven could look something like this (4-4-2):
Charles Dunne - Dave Winfield - Leon Johnson - Sam Wood
Joel Grant - Josh Scowen - Stuart Lewis - Bruno Andrade
Dean Morgan - Matt McClure
Subs: Lee Harrison, Marvin McCoy, Gareth Ainsworth, Jesse Kewley-Graham, Junior Morias, Jo Kuffour, Dennis Oli
Morecambe are currently 17th in the League Two table, just two places and three points above the Blues. They have lost five of their last six away matches in all competitions and Jim Bentley will be hoping to become the first Shrimps' boss to record a win against the Wanderers this weekend. He was able to recall defender Robbie Threlfall to the starting line-up at the weekend after more than a month out with a thigh injury.
Midfielder Andy Fleming also made a welcome return after recovering from a knock but picked up his fifth booking of the season and now serves a one match ban. Loan defender Jordan Mustoe and striker Richard Brodie weren't involved at the weekend after being refused permission to play in the cup by parent clubs Wigan Athletic and Crawley Town but are set to return to the squad this weekend.
Midfielder Ryan Williams won't be able to play until January despite agreeing a short-term deal having already signed amateur forms with another club. Defender Laurence Wilson is training with the club again after being released by Rotherham United last month and will be hoping to be offered a deal.
Striker Jordan Burrow will miss the next ten weeks with a knee ligament injury whilst striker Danny Carlton faces another four months on the sidelines with a similar injury. Keep an eye out for experienced winger / front man Kevin Ellison who has scored four goals in their last two matches.
Morecambe are likely to line-up as follows (4-4-2):
Andy Parrish - Chris McCready - Nick Fenton - Robbie Threlfall
Andy Wright - Gary McDonald - Stewart Drummond - Kevin Ellison
Jack Redshaw - Lewis Alessandra
Subs: Andreas Arestidou, Jordan Mustoe, Will Haining, Joe McGee, Izak Reid, Dan Parkinson, Richard Brodie
Here are all the stats...
The league table currently shows Wycombe in 19th place with 22 points and Morecambe in 17th spot with 25 points, both sides having played 20 games.
M'cambe Away Record....W 3 - D 1 - L 6 - Pts 10...Ppg 1.00 (Rank-16)
Wycombe Home Record..W 3 - D 3 - L 4 - Pts 12...Ppg 1.20 (Rank-16)
Morecambe's last five results (All Competitions)
FAC: Rochdale (A)............Won 1-0
Lg2: Gillingham (A)...........Lost 1-2
Lg2: Northampton (A)........Lost 0-3
Lg2: Wimbledon (H)..........Won 3-1
FAC: Coventry (A)............Lost 1-2
Wycombe's last five results (All Competitions)
Lg2: Northampton (A).........Lost 1-3
Lg2: Rotherham (A)...........Won 3-2
Lg2: Burton (H).................Won 3-0
Lg2: Bristol Rovers (H).......Won 2-0
JPT: Yeovil (A)...................Lost 0-2
Morecambe Goal Stats (27 games in all Competitions)
Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 26...Cups: 9.....Total: 35
Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 28...Cups: 10...Total: 38
Goals Scored (Away).........Lg: 11...Cups: 6.....Total: 17
Goals Conceded (Away).....Lg: 14...Cups: 5.....Total: 19
Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 7.....Cups: 2.....Total: 9
Wycombe Goal Stats (24 games in all Competitions)
Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 23...Cups: 4...Total: 27
Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 30...Cups: 8...Total: 38
Goals Scored (Home).........Lg: 11...Cups: 0...Total: 11
Goals Conceded (Home).....Lg: 10...Cups: 0...Total: 10
Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 5.....Cups: 0...Total: 5
Morecambe's Top Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Four other players have each scored 1 goal
Wycombe's Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Morecambe Shooting (Top-3) - All Comps
Kevin Ellison......25 on-target...19 off-target...1 against woodwork
Lew Alessandra..15 on-target...25 off-target...2 against woodwork
Andrew Fleming..19 on-target...18 off-target...1 against woodwork
Wycombe Shooting (Top-3) - All Comps
Dean Morgan......18 on-target...12 off-target...2 against woodwork
Joel Grant..........14 on-target...16 off-target...0 against woodwork
Matt McClure........6 on-target...11 off-target...1 against woodwork
Shooting (Club) - League only
Morecambe...97 on target...96 off target...9 against w'work (Rank-16)
Wycombe......76 on target...81 off target...4 against w'work (Rank-21)
Morecambe - Gary McDonald....4
Wycombe - Joel Grant..............3
League Form Guide
M'cambe....Pld: 20...W: 7...D: 4...L: 9.....Pts: 25...Pts per game: 1.25
Wycombe...Pld: 20...W: 6...D: 4...L: 10...Pts: 22...Pts per game: 1.10
Last Five league Games
Morecambe....DWLLW - 7 points (Rank-10)
Wycombe......LLWWW - 9 points (Rank-7)
Last Five League Games (Away)
Morecambe......WLLLL - 3 points (Rank-23)
Last Five League Games (Home)
Wycombe......DLLWW - 7 points (Rank-14)
Against Top Half Opposition
Morecambe......Pld: 12...Pts: 10...Pts per game: 0.83...(Rank-19)
Wycombe.........Pld: 11...Pts: 13...Pts per game: 1.18...(Rank-10)
Against Bottom Half Opposition
Morecambe......Pld: 8...Pts: 15...Pts per game: 1.88...(Rank-7)
Wycombe.........Pld: 9...Pts: 9.....Pts per game: 1.00...(Rank-22)
In 8 previous meetings there have been 5 wins for Wycombe, 0 for Morecambe and 3 draws.
At Adams Park the tally is 3 wins for the Chairboys, 0 for the Shrimps and 1 draw.
1992/93: FAT Morecambe 1 Wycombe 1
1992/93: FAT Wycombe 2 Morecambe 0
2007/08: LG2 Wycombe 2 Morecambe 0
2007/08: LG2 Morecambe 0 Wycombe 1
2008/09: LG2 Wycombe 1 Morecambe 1
2008/09: LG2 Morecambe 0 Wycombe 0
2010/11: LG2 Wycombe 2 Morecambe 0
2010/11: LG2 Morecambe 0 Wycombe 3
The Man In The Middle
Saturday's referee is 49 year-old Andy D'Urso from Essex who first took charge of a Football League game in 1994. His most recent Wycombe game was a 2-1 defeat at home to Charlton Athletic in October 2011. During the current campaign he's issued 4 red and 40 yellow cards in 19 appearances.
Benny: Wycombe 1 Morecambe 1
Len: Wycombe 2 Morecambe 1