Preview: Wycombe Wanderers v Bradford City
Wycombe Wanderers recorded a fourth league win in five matches after beating Accrington Stanley 2-0 at the Crowd Ground last weekend.
The visitors arrived in Lancashire looking to bounce back after conceding a last minute equaliser to draw 2-2 with Morecambe at Adams Park the previous weekend and they dominated the opening 45 minutes to take a two-goal lead into the break. Winger Bruno Andrade made the breakthrough after just eleven minutes to notch his second goal for the club before Matt McClure doubled the lead in the 34th minute when he tucked home the rebound after strike-partner Dean Morgan had hit the post.
McClure's afternoon ended in the 56th minute when he was shown a second yellow card for a wholly unnecessary challenge and he becomes the third Wanderers player to see red in as many matches. Unlike the previous weekend the Blues were able to hang on to their lead and the clean sheet will have been especially pleasing in the circumstances. There was some last ditch defending at times in the second half but there was little doubt that the visitors were deserving of all three points.
Manager Gareth Ainsworth had been forced to make two changes to his starting line-up against Stanley. He recalled himself to the side in place of the suspended Joel Grant whilst also giving a first league start of the season to defender Marvin McCoy, having missed three months with ankle ligament damage. He replaced defender Dave Winfield, who failed a late fitness test on a hamstring strain. Striker Jo Kuffour returned to the bench after recovering from illness and he was joined there by winger Lee Angol. Goalkeeper Jordan Archer continued between the sticks after his loan from Tottenham Hotspur was extended until the end of the season.
The Chairboys fourth away win of the season takes them up two places to 17th in the League Two table and they face a real test of their credentials this weekend as 5th placed Bradford City make the trip to Adams Park for the last action before Christmas. The Bantams were knocked out of the F.A. Cup in midweek, twice letting slip the lead to lose 4-2 after extra time to League One Brentford in a second round replay at Griffin Park. It was their first defeat in eight matches in all competitions and also their first in eleven cup matches this season.
The Bantams let slip a two goal lead at the weekend to draw 2-2 with Southend United at Roots Hall last weekend and they may possibly be showing the signs of fatigue having played twice a week since October 20. The club have responded to this slew of matches with an offer of free tickets and subsidised travel for up to 2,000 of their supporters who want to make the trip to Adams Park this weekend.
It will be City's seventh visit to the Chair Metropolis and they have an absolutely dreadful record. In the five previous league meetings they have lost all five, with their only victory coming in a F.A. Cup third round tie in January 1997. The game was switched to a Sunday afternoon with the pitch barely playable due to a hard frost. The hosts had the better of the early exchanges against their higher league opponents but failed to take their chances and were undone by two set-pieces, both of which came following debatable decisions from referee Uriah Rennie. Bantams midfielder John Dreyer bagged himself a brace with two clinical finishes from outside the box in the first half and that was enough to win it for them with visiting goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer rarely troubled.
The first league meeting between the sides in Buckinghamshire came on a cold Tuesday evening in April 1995. Martin O'Neill's side were looking to make up lost ground as they chased a play-off place in the second division. Midfielder Jason Solomon notched his one and only goal for the club to give the hosts an early lead after good work from Dave Carroll and Tony Hemmings made it 2-0 after being teed up by Steve McGavin shortly afterwards. Carroll added a third goal before the break after Hemmings had somehow hit the crossbar with the goal gaping. Despite conceding late on the Blues took the three points with a 3-1 victory.
In March 1996 things were very different under Al*n Sm*th. A crowd of 3,021 did however see one of the best home displays of the season with striker Miguel De Souza completing a rare piece of history. Earlier in the season he had notched a hat-trick in a 4-0 victory at Valley Parade and he repeated the feat at Adams Park. The early signs weren't particularly encouraging however as goalkeeper Seib Dykstra's terrible clearance was knocked back over him and into the net by Andy Kiwomya from at least thirty yards to give the visitors the lead. It didn't take De Souza long to equalise however as he slotted McGavin's right-wing cross into the bottom corner of the net.
Keith Ryan then put the Wanderers in front with a drive from 25 yards which took a slight deflection to loop over goalkeeper Gavin Ward and into the net. The lead was extended early in the second half when De Souza tapped home from six yards following more good approach play from McGavin, this time down the left flank. Carl Shutt pulled a goal back for the visitors but De Souza soon made it 4-2 when he showed great strength to ride the challenge of a defender before slotting home to claim the match ball. It was left to Terry Evans to complete the 5-2 mauling when he bundled the ball home from close-range after De Souza's header had been parried by Ward.
There was almost an eleven and a half year gap before the two sides met again and it came in a dead rubber in May 2008. The Chairboys had already sealed their place in the League Two play-offs under Paul Lambert whilst the Bantams were languishing the bottom half of the table. Striker Delroy Facey put the home side ahead after just six minutes following a defence splitting run and pass from winger Matt Phillips, who was making his full league debut. Midway through the first half striker Leon Knight added a second goal when he flicked home David McCracken's header from close-range. Luke Medley's penalty halved the deficit with twelve minutes remaining but the Blues held on comfortably to win 2-1.
The next meeting came in November 2008 as Peter Taylor's side ground out a 1-0 victory at Adams Park. A forgettable first half improved a little after the break with the introduction of loan winger Angelo Balanta but the winner came from a surprise source with just a quarter of an hour remaining. Full back Lewis Hunt was given too much space in the box and he pounced on a poor clearance to drive a low shot across visiting goalkeeper Rhys Evans and into the bottom corner.
The last encounter between the sides at Adams Park was in November 2010 and again the Wanderers won it by a solitary goal. The Bantams were now under the guidance of Peter Taylor but it his successor Gary Waddock who would have the upper hand in this one. It came with a slice of irony too as the visitors were reduced to ten men in the second half after midfielder Tommy Doherty was sent-off for striking out at current Blues boss Gareth Ainsworth. Doherty had left the club ten months previously having fallen out with Waddock whilst the pair were both at Queens Park Rangers.
It proved to be decisive as with just nine minutes remaining the deadlock was broken in controversial circumstances. Stuart Beavon appeared to have been fouled out on the right flank but referee Mr Russell waved 'play-on'. Matt Bloomfield picked up the loose ball to run into the area only to be tripped by visiting goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley. Again the official allowed play to continue and Kevin Betsy was on hand to tap the ball into the empty net from six yards to snatch all three points.
Ainsworth has little room for manoeuvre this weekend with a squad decimated by injuries and suspensions and he could struggle to name a full bench. A trio of players are suspended with McClure serving a one match ban after his red card, midfielder Matt Spring serves the last of a three game ban whilst winger Joel Grant serves the second of a three match suspension. Defender Leon Johnson is still struggling with a knee injury but there is some hope that Dave Winfield may return from a hamstring strain. Striker Dean Morgan had to be substituted at half-time after aggravating a hamstring injury and hasn't trained all week.
Half-a-dozen players also remain in the treatment room. Defender Anthony Stewart has returned to training after a thigh injury but defender Gary Doherty will be sidelined for another six weeks after undergoing surgery on his back. Loan striker Ade Azeez faces at least another week on the sidelines with a pulled hamstring. Defender Danny Foster is waiting for the bruising around his knee to subside before the injury can be assessed properly. Midfielder Matt Bloomfield has been ruled-out for at least two more months with a pelvic shear. Full-back Grant Basey is recovering from surgery on his anterior cruciate ligaments and won't play again this season.
Here's the current list of players availability...
Dave Winfield (Centre Back) - doubtful (failed fitness test on hamstring strain last weekend)
Anthony Stewart (Right / Centre Back) - doubtful (returned to training this week following a thigh injury)
Leon Johnson (Centre Back) - doubtful (specific nature of injury has yet to be made public)
Dean Morgan (Attacker) - doubtful (substituted at half-time last weekend with a hamstring strain and hasn't trained all week)
Matt McClure (Attacker) - suspended (serves a one match ban)
Matt Spring (Midfielder) - suspended (serves the last of a three match ban)
Joel Grant (Winger) - suspended (serves the second of a three match ban)
Gary Doherty (Centre Back) - ruled out with a back injury (set for at least six weeks out after surgery on disc in back)
Ade Azeez (Attacker) - ruled-out with a hamstring injury (receiving treatment from parent club Charlton Athletic)
Danny Foster (Right Back) - ruled out with a knee injury (full extent of the injury has yet to be made public)
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 - Kortney Hause - Sam Wood
Gareth Ainsworth - Josh Scowen - Stuart Lewis - Bruno Andrade
Dennis Oli - Jo Kuffour
Subs: Lee Harrison, Anthony Stewart, Marvin McCoy, Georges Ehui, Jesse Kewley-Graham, Junior Morias, Lee Angol
Bradford City manager Phil Parkinson made an incredible nine changes to his starting line-up for the midweek cup defeat to Brentford. Only central defenders Carl McHugh and Rory McArdle started from the side which drew with Southend United last weekend. Winger Kyel Reid made a welcome return to the side after recovering from a groin injury. Winger Zavon Hines also made his first start in over two months having recovered from an ankle injury. Defender James Meredith, midfielders Gary Jones and Will Atkinson and strikers James Hanson and Nahki Wells were all rested whilst midfielder Nathan Doyle served a one match ban. They are all set to come straight back into the side this weekend.
Loan defenders Curtis Good and Tom Naylor and winger Craig Forsyth weren't involved in midweek after being refused permission to play by parent clubs Newcastle United, Derby County and Watford respectively but are available for selection once more. Parkinson has no new injury concerns and has just two players unavailable through injury. Defender Andrew Davies will miss the next two months following knee surgery. Ex-Wycombe defender Luke Oliver won't play again this season following surgery on a ruptured Achilles. Former Wanderers loanee Matt Duke is expected to return between the sticks.
Bradford City should line-up something like this at the weekend (4-4-2):
Stephen Darby - Carl McHugh - Rory McArdle - James Meredith
Garry Thompson - Gary Jones - Nathan Doyle - Will Atkinson
James Hanson - Nahki Wells
Subs: Jon McLaughlin, Curtis Good, Ricky Ravenhill, Ritchie Jones, Kyel Reid, Zavon Hines, Alan Connell
Here are all the stats...
The league table currently shows Wycombe in 17th place with 26 points and Bradford in 5th spot with 36 points, both sides having played 22 games.
Bradford Away Record.....W 3 - D 4 - L 4 - Pts 13...Ppg 1.18 (Rank-12)
Wycombe Home Record...W 3 - D 4 - L 4 - Pts 13...Ppg 1.18 (Rank-15)
Bradford's last five results (All Competitions)
JPT: Port Vale (A)............Won 2-0
Lg2: Torquay (H).............Won 1-0
LgC: Arsenal (H)..............Won 1-1 (3-2 on pens)
Lg2: Southend (A)..........Drew 2-2
FAC: Brentford (A)...........Lost 2-4 (aet)
Wycombe's last five results (All Competitions)
Lg2: Burton (H).................Won 3-0
Lg2: Bristol Rovers (H).......Won 2-0
JPT: Yeovil (A)...................Lost 0-2
Lg2: Morecambe (H).........Drew 2-2
Lg2: Accrington (A)............Won 2-0
Bradford Goal Stats (33 games in all Competitions)
Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 33...Cups: 16...Total: 49
Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 24...Cups: 13...Total: 37
Goals Scored (Away).........Lg: 15...Cups: 8.....Total: 23
Goals Conceded (Away).....Lg: 18...Cups: 6.....Total: 24
Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 9.....Cups: 4.....Total: 13
Failed to score...................Lg: 6.....Cups: 2.....Total: 8
Wycombe Goal Stats (26 games in all Competitions)
Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 27...Cups: 4...Total: 31
Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 32...Cups: 8...Total: 40
Goals Scored (Home).........Lg: 13...Cups: 0...Total: 13
Goals Conceded (Home).....Lg: 12...Cups: 0...Total: 12
Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 6.....Cups: 0...Total: 6
Failed to score...................Lg: 6.....Cups: 2...Total: 8
Bradford's Top Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Four other players have each scored 2 goals.
Six other players have each scored 1 goal
Wycombe's Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Bradford Shooting (Top-3) - All Comps
James Hanson....30 on-target...41 off-target...1 against woodwork
Nahki Wells........39 on-target...27 off-target...4 against woodwork
Alan Connell.......23 on-target...23 off-target...1 against woodwork
Wycombe Shooting (Top-3) - All Comps
Dean Morgan.......20 on-target...15 off-target...3 against woodwork
Joel Grant...........16 on-target...17 off-target...0 against woodwork
Matt McClure.........8 on-target...13 off-target...1 against woodwork
Shooting (Club) - League only
Bradford.....137 on target...139 off target...7 against w'work (Rank-3)
Wycombe......90 on target....94 off target...6 against w'work (Rank-21)
Bradford - Gary Jones & James Hanson.....6
Wycombe - Stuart Lewis & Joel Grant........3
Discipline - All Comps
Bradford - 2 Red Cards - 36 Yellow Cards
Wycombe - 5 Red Cards - 43 Yellow Cards
League Form Guide
Bradford.....Pld: 22...W: 10...D: 6...L: 6....Pts: 36...Pts per game: 1.64
Wycombe....Pld: 22...W: 7....D: 5...L: 10...Pts: 26...Pts per game: 1.18
Last Five league Games
Bradford..........LWDWD - 8 points (Rank-10)
Wycombe.....WWWDW - 13 points (Rank-1) yee ha!
Last Five League Games (Away)
Bradford..........WLWDD - 8 points (Rank-6)
Last Five League Games (Home)
Wycombe.........LLWWD - 7 points (Rank-13)
Against Top Half Opposition
Bradford........Pld: 11...Pts: 11...Pts per game: 1.00...(Rank-17)
Wycombe.......Pld: 11...Pts: 13...Pts per game: 1.18...(Rank-10)
Against Bottom Half Opposition
Bradford........Pld: 11...Pts: 25...Pts per game: 2.27...(Rank-2)
Wycombe.......Pld: 11...Pts: 13...Pts per game: 1.18...(Rank-21)
Record in First Half of games
Bradford.......W: 5...D: 10...L: 7.....Pts: 25 (Rank 17)
Wycombe......W: 8...D: 7.....L: 7.....Pts: 31 (Rank-7)
Record in Second Half of games
Bradford.......W: 10...D: 8...L: 4.....Pts: 38 (Rank 2)
Wycombe......W: 4....D: 9...L: 9.....Pts: 21 (Rank-22)
In 11 previous meetings there have been 7 wins for Wycombe, 4 for Bradford and 0 draws.
At Adams Park the tally is 5 wins for the Chairboys, 1 for the Bantams and 0 draws.
1994/95 LG1: Wycombe 3 Bradford 1
1995/96 LG1: Wycombe 5 Bradford 2
1996/97 FAC: Wycombe 0 Bradford 2
2007/08 LG2: Wycombe 2 Bradford 1
2008/09 LG2: Wycombe 1 Bradford 0
2010/11 LG2: Wycombe 1 Bradford 0
The Man In The Middle
Saturday's referee is the experienced Scott Mathieson from Cheshire who was promoted to the National List of Referees in 1994. Earlier this season he took charge of Wycombe's 3-0 defeat at Dagenham & Redbridge. During the current campaign he's issued 5 red and 57 yellow cards in 21 appearances.
Benny: Wycombe 1 Bradford 3
Len: Wycombe 1 Bradford 2