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Preview: Cheltenham Town v Wycombe Wanderers


Wycombe Wanderers will be looking to extend their unbeaten run in League Two to six matches when they travel to Whaddon Road to face Cheltenham Town on Boxing Day.

The Blues were given an unexpected weekend off after the home clash with Bradford City was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Adams Park at the weekend. They had recorded a fourth league win in five matches after beating Accrington Stanley 2-0 at the Crown Ground the previous weekend. Goals from winger Bruno Andrade and striker Matt McClure sealed a deserved victory although it was made harder than it needed to be when McClure was shown a second yellow card in the space of six minutes early in the second half. He became the third Wanderers player to see red in as many matches.

Manager Gareth Ainsworth has had something of a baptism of fire as far as team selection has been concerned and was forced to make two more changes to his starting line-up against Stanley, both of which were enforced. 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. Centre back Dave Winfield failed a late fitness test on a hamstring strain and striker Dean Morgan suffered a similar problem which saw him substituted at half-time. He was replaced by striker Jo Kuffour, who had returned to the bench after recovering from illness. He was joined there by winger Lee Angol, who made a rare appearance in the squad.

The Chairboys slipped a place to 18th in the League Two table following Accrington Stanley's 1-1 draw with Plymouth Argyle at the weekend and they will be looking for a fifth away win of the season against the Robins following the Yuletide celebrations. It will be the first return fixture of the campaign with the Blues having somehow escaped with a point after drawing 1-1 with Cheltenham Town at Adams Park back in September. They are currently 3rd in the table and will be smarting after being thrashed 4-1 by Rochdale at Spotland at the weekend. The Robins have a very impressive home record and are unbeaten in their last eight league matches, having won six and drawn two.

Wycombe will be making their 14th visit to Whaddon Road on Boxing Day. The first came all the way back in January 1981 when Terry Glynn's goal was enough to seal a narrow 1-0 victory in a F.A. Trophy first round tie. The next trip came in the Gola League in the midst of a fixture pile-up in April 1986 and goals from Kevin Collins and Simon Read weren't enough to prevent the side from crashing to a 4-2 defeat. A Mark West penalty and a goal from Graham Westley sealed a 2-2 draw when the sides faced each other again in the GM Vauxhall Conference in September 1987.

The late Kevin Durham wrapped up a 1-0 victory at Whaddon Road on April Fools Day 1988 and another Westie strike secured a 1-1 draw in March 1990. There was a midweek 1-0 defeat almost exactly a year later and the clash in February 1992 was rather controversial as Simon Stapleton's opening goal was overturned by the hosts as they went on to win 2-1. The Blues finished the game with ten men after winger Simon Hutchinson was sent-off and his kit-bag came flying through the glass window of the dressing room shortly afterwards!

There was a gap of more than ten years before the sides would meet again, this time in the third tier of English football. The December 2002 clash won't be remembered for the football, with the game ending goal-less, but for events off the pitch. There was a mix up with the kit which saw striker Jonny Dixon wear the no.10 shirt of Sean Devine, who had been left out ahead of his impending move to Exeter City, with Dixon's squad no. of 36 taped precariously on the back. It also marked the first appearance of the infamous Sanchez Out banner. The next meeting in September 2004 also ended in stalemate with Keith Ryan's daisy-cutter rescuing a 1-1 draw.

The two meetings in March and May 2006 were played against the backdrop of tragedy following the passing of Mark Philo and Myra Gorman. The first game saw Roger Johnson's early goal cancelled out as the hosts fought back to win 2-1 and the second was an emotional evening of immense disappointment as the Chairboys played their hosts off-the-park but were unable to find a goal to take the play-off semi-final second leg into extra time. The tie ending goal-less and the Robins winning 2-1 on aggregate.

There was a four and half year wait until the last time the two sides faced each other and it came on New Years Day 2011. The hosts had taken an early lead but striker Stuart Beavon showed some of his sublime skill to crash home a superb equaliser a minute before the break. Fittingly current Blues boss Gareth Ainsworth snatched the winner when he met Chris Westwood's cross with a perfectly placed header into the net just before the hour mark.

Ainsworth still has a squad decimated by injuries and suspensions and he will be hoping the extra few days rest following the Bradford postponement might give a quartet of players the chance to recover from injury. Defender Dave Winfield has a good chance of returning from a hamstring strain and defender Anthony Stewart may also earn a recall having returned to training last week after recovering from a thigh injury. Striker Dean Morgan was unable to train last week due to a hamstring strain and would be a big miss if ruled-out. Defender Leon Johnson hasn't featured since the 2-0 victory over Bristol Rovers on December 1st with what is believed to be a knee problem.

A trio of players are suspended with McClure serving a one match ban after his red card at Accrington. Midfielder Matt Spring serves the last of a three game ban whilst winger Joel Grant serves the second of a three match suspension. Defender Gary Doherty has had surgery on his back and is set for six weeks on the sidelines. Striker Ade Azeez's loan ends after the trip to Plymouth at the weekend and a pulled hamstring might mean he fails to feature again in the halves. 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 six more weeks 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 (missed the win at Accrington with a hamstring strain)

Anthony Stewart (Right / Centre Back) - doubtful (returned to training last week after recovering from a thigh injury)

Leon Johnson (Centre Back) - doubtful (specific nature of injury has yet to be made public)

Dean Morgan (Attacker) - doubtful (was unable to train last week after straining his hamstring)

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 (has undergone surgery and is set for six weeks on the sidelines)

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 six more weeks)

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):

Jordan Archer

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


Cheltenham Town manager Mark Yates could be tempted to make changes against the Blues following his side's heavy defeat at Rochdale last time out. Afterwards he raged: 'That was absolutely shocking, we were lucky to get away with conceding four because it could have been 15. That has really upset me, it was an absolute disgrace. The players need to take a look at themselves in the mirror. That was not acceptable. We defended like pansies and if they think they will be off on Christmas Day they can think again. I've been as good as gold with the players, we look after them, but I'm not having that. Christmas is cancelled.'

He was able to name midfielder Russell Penn in the side after he recovered from a knock and he has just one injury concern ahead of Boxing Day. Winger Kaid Mohammed has been struggling with a badly bruised ankle but could be fit to return against the Chairboys. There are a trio of ex-Wanderers in the Town squad and they are all likely to be in the starting line-up. Alan Bennett will be at centre-back with former loanee Marlon Park in the middle of the park. Chris Zebroski will lead the attack.

Cheltenham Town should line-up something like this on Boxing Day (4-4-2):

Scott Brown

Sido Jomabti - Alan Bennett - Steve Elliott - Billy Jones

Russell Penn - Darren Carter - Marlon Pack - Jake Taylor

Chris Zebroski - Shaun Harrad

Subs: Connor Roberts, Keith Lowe, Lawson D'Ath, Jermaine McGlashan, Sam Deering, Darryl Duffy, Jeff Goulding


Here are all the stats...


The league table currently shows Wycombe in 18th place with 26 points from 22 games and Cheltenham in 3rd spot with 39 points from 23 games.


Chelt'ham Home Record...W 7 - D 2 - L 2 - Pts 23...Ppg 2.09 (Rank-2)

Wycombe Away Record....W 4 - D 1 - L 6 - Pts 13...Ppg 1.18 (Rank-13)


Cheltenham's last five results (All Competitions)

FAC: Hereford (H)..........Drew 1-1

Lg2: Northampton (A)......Won 3-2

FAC: Hereford (A)...........Won 2-1 (aet)

Lg2: Port Vale (H)..........Drew 1-1

Lg2: Rochdale (A)............Lost 1-4


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


Cheltenham Goal Stats (28 games in all Competitions)

Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 32...Cups: 9...Total: 41

Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 32...Cups: 7...Total: 39

Goals Scored (Home).........Lg: 17...Cups: 7...Total: 24

Goals Conceded (Home).....Lg: 11...Cups: 6...Total: 17

Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 9.....Cups: 1...Total: 10

Failed to score...................Lg: 3.....Cups: 0...Total: 3


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 (Away).........Lg: 14...Cups: 4...Total: 18

Goals Conceded (Away).....Lg: 20...Cups: 8...Total: 28

Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 6.....Cups: 0...Total: 6

Failed to score...................Lg: 6.....Cups: 2...Total: 8


Cheltenham's Top Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)

Shaun Harrad..........7

Chris Zebroski.........6

Kaid Mohamed.........6

Darren Carter..........5

Keith Lowe...............4

Four other players have each scored 2 goals.

Three other players have each scored 1 goal


Wycombe's Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)

Joel Grant................7

Matt McClure............6

Dean Morgan............5

Gareth Ainsworth......2

Bruno Andrade.........2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dave Winfield...........1

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


Cheltenham Shooting (Top-3) - All Comps

Chris Zebroski....21 on-target...18 off-target...1 against woodwork

Kaid Mohamed....22 on-target...15 off-target...2 against woodwork

Shaun Harrad......13 on-target...18 off-target...0 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

Chelt'ham...108 on target...127 off target...4 against w'work (Rank-12)

Wycombe......90 on target....94 off target...6 against w'work (Rank-22)


Most Assists

Cheltenham - Billy Jones........................10

Wycombe - Stuart Lewis & Joel Grant........3


Discipline - All Comps

Cheltenham....1 Red Card - 42 Yellow Cards

Wycombe.......5 Red Cards - 43 Yellow Cards


League Form Guide

All Season


Chelt'ham...Pld: 23...W: 11...D: 6...L: 6....Pts: 39...Pts per game: 1.70

Wycombe....Pld: 22...W: 7....D: 5...L: 10...Pts: 26...Pts per game: 1.18


Last Five league Games

Cheltenham........LWWDL - 7 points (Rank-14)

Wycombe.......WWWDW - 13 points (Rank-1)


Last Five League Games (Home)

Cheltenham.....WWWWD - 13 points (Rank-1)


Last Five League Games (Away)

Wycombe............LDLWW - 7 points (Rank-8)


Against Top Half Opposition

Cheltenham.....Pld: 11...Pts: 13...Pts per game: 1.18...(Rank-12)

Wycombe........Pld: 11...Pts: 13...Pts per game: 1.18...(Rank-11)


Against Bottom Half Opposition

Cheltenham.....Pld: 12...Pts: 26...Pts per game: 2.17...(Rank-2)

Wycombe........Pld: 11...Pts: 13...Pts per game: 1.18...(Rank-20)


Record in First Half of games

Cheltenham...W: 5...D: 12...L: 6.....Pts: 27 (Rank 17)

Wycombe......W: 8...D: 7.....L: 7.....Pts: 31 (Rank-7)


Record in Second Half of games

Cheltenham...W: 10...D: 7...L: 6.....Pts: 37 (Rank 5)

Wycombe.......W: 4....D: 9...L: 9.....Pts: 21 (Rank-23)


Previous Meetings

In 30 previous meetings there have been 10 wins for Wycombe, 9 for Cheltenham and 11 draws.

At Whaddon Road the tally is 4 wins for the Chairboys, 4 for the Robins and 5 draws.

1980/81 FAT: Cheltenham 0 Wycombe 1

1985/86 GLg: Cheltenham 4 Wycombe 2

1987/88 Con: Cheltenham 2 Wycombe 2

1988/89 Con: Cheltenham 0 Wycombe 1

1989/90 Con: Cheltenham 1 Wycombe 1

1990/91 Con: Cheltenham 1 Wycombe 0

1991/92 Con: Cheltenham 2 Wycombe 1

2002/03 FLT: Cheltenham 1 Wycombe 2

2002/03 Lg1: Cheltenham 0 Wycombe 0

2004/05 Lg2: Cheltenham 1 Wycombe 1

2005/06 Lg2: Cheltenham 2 Wycombe 1

2005/06 Poff: Cheltenham 0 Wycombe 0

2010/11 Lg2: Cheltenham 1 Wycombe 2


The Man In The Middle

Wednesday's referee is Steve Rushton from Staffordshire who was promoted to the National List of Referees in 2009. Last season he took charge of Wycombe's 1-1 draw at home to Scunthorpe and their 2-2 draw at home to Oldham. During the current campaign he's issued 8 red and 51 yellow cards in 18 appearances.


Predictions

Benny: Cheltenham 1 Wycombe 0

Len: Cheltenham 2 Wycombe 1


Everyone at Vital Wycombe would like to wish our avid reader(s) and Chairboys and girls across the globe a very Merry Christmas and a fabulous 2013!




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The Journalist

Writer: Benny & Len Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday December 23 2012

Time: 11:58PM

 

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