Writer: Benny & Len
Date:Thursday December 27 2012
Wycombe Wanderers' five-match unbeaten run in League Two came to an inglorious end on Boxing Day as they were thrashed 4-0 by Cheltenham Town at Whaddon Road.
The Blues were lambs to the slaughter against a home side looking to make amends after being on the wrong end of a 4-1 thrashing themselves at the hands of Rochdale last weekend. The Robins cruised to victory with two goals in either half and had it not been for an outstanding performance from goalkeeper Jordan Archer the scoreline could have taken on embarrassing proportions. 506 Chairboys and girls made the trip to a wet and windy Gloucestershire and might well have wished they'd stayed at home to watch crap telly and eat cold turkey sandwiches instead.
Whilst the performance and result were more than a little disappointing, they can be explained by the extenuating circumstances of a squad decimated by injuries and suspensions. It is now becoming an epidemic and serious questions must be asked because it cannot simply be down to coincidence. At least there was an end to the three game sequence of red cards, and hopefully those players have been fined and made an example of. Their absence is proving costly and they are letting their team mates down with the lack of discipline.
Manager Gareth Ainsworth was forced to make two more changes to his starting line-up against the Robins with strikers Dennis Oli and Jo Kuffour recalled to the side to form arguably one of the least potent strike forces in the Chairboys' twenty years as a Football League club. They replaced the suspended Matt McClure and the injured Dean Morgan. The bench included Emmanuel Ighorae (17) and Max Kretzschmar (19) alongside Georges Ehui (18), Junior Morias (17), Anthony Stewart (20) and Lee Angol (18). It is clear we are relying on kids far earlier than would have been planned.
Worse was to follow as three more players picked up injuries. Defender Charles Dunne had to be substituted at half-time to receive stitches in a gash in his foot. Midfielder Josh Scowen also came off at the break after feeling his hamstring, with Ainsworth understandably taking no risks. There are also suggestions that midfielder Stuart Lewis aggravated his groin or hamstring by the end and the worse case scenario could see the gaffer unable to name a full bench against Plymouth Argyle this weekend.
The Chairboys have slipped another place to 19th in the League Two table and the defeat serves as a reminder that there is still much work to do this season if we are to ensure our Football League status for a 21st year. There may be some who will be praying for rain to be our saviour ahead of the trip to Devon for the clash with the Pilgrims at Home Park. The two sides met on a Tuesday evening back in October in Ainsworth's first game in charge as caretaker at Adams Park. Matt McClure's early header was cancelled out by Guy Madjo's second half equaliser and the points were shared in a 1-1 draw. Argyle have struggled since with manager Carl Fletcher coming under increasing pressure from home fans.
Wycombe will be making their 9th trip to Home Park this weekend. The first meeting came back in October 1994 in the heady days of Martin O'Neill's reign. A pulsating encounter saw the home side twice take the lead only to be pegged back each time with iconic striker Cyrille Regis bagging a brace for the Chairboys, his second equaliser coming with just six minutes left to play. The next encounter came in February 1997 and it won't live too long in memory. As was often the case under John Gregory away from home, the side looked to grind out a goal-less draw and did just that thanks to a goal-line clearance from Mickey Bell late on.
Eight months later the sides met again on a cold November evening with the hosts running out 4-2 winners in a controversial clash referred by none other than a certain Rob Styles. The Blues were gifted the lead with an own goal but conceded twice in the space of a minute to trail 2-1 at the break. Keith Scott levelled early in the second half after fine wing-play from Dave Carroll only to concede again within two minutes although there were vociferous protests that goalscorer Adrian Littlejohn was more than little offside. Three minutes later Argyle added a fourth goal to seal the points. Even the usually calm and collected Carroll had to be restrained from chinning Styles at the final whistle!
13 months later the sides met in a F.A. Cup second round replay and 86 loyal / sad Chairboys and girls made the trip to Devon. Nicky Mohan's clumsy challenge saw the home side take the lead from the penalty spot midway through the first half and then goalkeeper Martin Taylor fumbled to gift the hosts a second six minutes before the break. Paul Read halved the deficit with twenty minutes to go when he headed home Chris Vinnicombe's cross but another error from Taylor allowed Argyle to restore their two goal lead with seven minutes remaining. Carroll pulled a goal back from the penalty spot in injury-time but the Blues were knocked out having been beaten 3-2.
There was another depressing trip in May 2003 under Lawrie Sanchez. It was the last day of the season, the result was irrelevant and it showed. Plymouth won it with a single goal from Nathan Lowndes with a quarter of an hour remaining. It was a far more enjoyable experience six months later as the Wanderers progressed in the Football League Trophy after winning 4-2 on penalties. Jermaine McSporran's quick-fire brace was cancelled out before half-time and the visitors had to play extra time with just ten men after Guy Branston was sent-off for hurling a foul-mouthed volley at the referee. Goalkeeper Frank Talia saved twice in the shoot-out before Danny Senda slotted home the winning spot-kick.
The visit in April 2004 saw the Wanderers let slip an early lead to lose 2-1 with both sides at opposite ends of the table. The hosts were on the brink of promotion to the Championship whilst the visitors were rooted to the bottom of the second division and destined for the drop. That didn't prevent striker Nathan Tyson from putting Wycombe ahead after just five minutes following Darren Currie's sublime defence-splitting pass. It was then the Steve Williams show as the young goalkeeper pulled off a host of world class saves. He was finally beaten six minutes before the break and then failed to hold a corner to gift the Pilgrims the winner with ten minutes remaining. He dislocated his finger in the incident which saw Steve Brown make another cameo appearance between the sticks.
The last meeting also came in the cup, this time the League version, in August 2007. Paul Lambert was looking to make his own impact on the squad at the start of his second season in charge but the side was no match for their Championship opponents and were fortunate to only trail 2-0 at the break. Stefan Oakes deflected effort with 14 minutes left gave the 2-1 scoreline a rather flattering look.
There is at least some good news for Ainsworth ahead of the weekend with both midfielder Matt Spring and striker Matt McClure available after suspension. Defender Anthony Stewart also made his first appearance since October after recovering from a thigh injury. There were also positive noises that defender Dave Winfield and striker Dean Morgan could return from hamstring injuries to face the Pilgrims. Of course the bad news is that Dunne (foot), Scowen (hamstring) and Lewis (hamstring) have been added to the list of players doubtful for the game.
Winger Joel Grant serves the last of a three game ban and it is the second last game of striker Ade Azeez's loan from Charlton Athletic. He returned to training this morning having received treatment for a hamstring injury at his parent club for the last three weeks. Defender Leon Johnson's absence, with what is believed to be a knee problem, continued on Boxing Day and there has been no update on when he might return to action. Defender Danny Foster's bruised knee is expected to keep him out again with a diagnosis expected shortly.
Defender Gary Doherty faces another five weeks on the sidelines as he recovers from surgery on his back. Midfielder Matt Bloomfield has been ruled-out for at least six more weeks with a pelvic shear. Full-back Grant Basey won't play again this season as he continues his rehabiliation following surgery on his anterior cruciate ligaments.
Here's the current list of players availability...
Anthony Stewart (Right / Centre Back) - available (appeared as a half-time substitute after recovering from a thigh injury)
Matt Spring (Midfielder) - available (after serving a three match ban)
Matt McClure (Attacker) - available (after serving a one game suspension)
Dave Winfield (Centre Back) - doubtful (struggling with a hamstring strain)
Dean Morgan (Attacker) - doubtful (struggling with a hamstring strain)
Charles Dunne (Defender) - doubtful (received stitches in his foot)
Josh Scowen (Midfielder) - doubtful (struggling with a hamstring strain)
Stuart Lewis (Midfielder) - doubtful (struggling with a hamstring strain)
Joel Grant (Winger) - suspended (serves the last of a three match ban)
Ade Azeez (Attacker) - returned to training at Wycombe today having received treatment for a hamstring injury from parent club Charlton Athletic.
Leon Johnson (Centre Back) - ruled-out with a back injury (timescale for recovery unknown)
Gary Doherty (Centre Back) - ruled out with a back injury (has undergone surgery and is set for six weeks on the sidelines)
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):
Marvin McCoy - Anthony Stewart - Kortney Hause - Sam Wood
Gareth Ainsworth - Matt Spring - Stuart Lewis - Bruno Andrade
Matt McClure - Jo Kuffour
Subs: Lee Harrison, Charles Dunne, Georges Ehui, Emmanuel Ighorae, Junior Morias, Lee Angol, Dennis Oli
Plymouth Argyle currently sit one place and two points below the Wanderers in 20th place in League Two. 17-year-old striker Tyler Harvey snatched a dramatic last minute equaliser to rescue a point in a 1-1 draw with local rivals Torquay United at Home Park on Boxing Day. The draw leaves Argyle unbeaten in their last four league matches although they have only won one of their last eleven in League Two. Fletcher is likely to stick with the same squad with loan midfielder Mark Moseley still struggling with a knock. Midfielder Paul Wotton remains sidelined with a knee injury. There isn't a single player in the Pilgrims squad ever to have played for the Chairboys!
Plymouth Argyle lined-up as follows on Boxing Day (4-4-2):
Curtis Nelson - Darren Purse - Onismor Bhasera - Maxime Blanchard
Paris Cowan-Hall - Robbie Williams - Luke Young - Conor Hourihane
Nick Chadwick - Tyler Harvey
Subs: Jake Cole, Durrell Berry, Jamie Lowry, Joe Lennox, Andres Gurrieri, Warren Feeney
Here are all the stats...
The league table currently shows Wycombe in 19th place with 26 points from 23 games and Plymouth in 20th spot with 24 points from 24 games.
Plymouth Home Record....W 3 - D 4 - L 5 - Pts 13...Ppg 1.08 (Rank-20)
Wycombe Away Record....W 4 - D 1 - L 7 - Pts 13...Ppg 1.08 (Rank-15)
Plymouth's last five results (All Competitions)
JPT: Oxford (H).................Lost 1-1 (1-3 on pens)
Lg2: York (H)....................Won 2-0
Lg2: Exeter (A)................Drew 1-1
Lg2: Accrington (A)..........Drew 1-1
Lg2: Torquay (H).............Drew 1-1
Wycombe's last five results (All Competitions)
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
Lg2: Cheltenham (A)..........Lost 0-4
Plymouth Goal Stats (29 games in all Competitions)
Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 28...Cups: 7...Total: 35
Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 33...Cups: 4...Total: 37
Goals Scored (Home).........Lg: 16...Cups: 6...Total: 22
Goals Conceded (Home).....Lg: 18...Cups: 2...Total: 20
Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 3.....Cups: 1...Total: 4
Failed to score...................Lg: 7.....Cups: 1...Total: 8
Wycombe Goal Stats (27 games in all Competitions)
Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 27...Cups: 4...Total: 31
Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 36...Cups: 8...Total: 44
Goals Scored (Away).........Lg: 14...Cups: 4...Total: 18
Goals Conceded (Away).....Lg: 24...Cups: 8...Total: 32
Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 6.....Cups: 0...Total: 6
Failed to score...................Lg: 7.....Cups: 2...Total: 9
Plymouth's Top Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Six other players have each scored 2 goals.
Six other players have each scored 1 goal
Wycombe's Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Plymouth Shooting (Top-3) - All Comps
Con Hourihane....14 on-target...23 off-target...1 against woodwork
Alex MacDonald...16 on-target...16 off-target...0 against woodwork
P Cowan-Hall......23 on-target.....8 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
Plymouth....134 on target...133 off target...7 against w'work (Rank-7)
Wycombe.....91 on target....97 off target....6 against w'work (Rank-22)
Plymouth - Paris Cowan-Hall...................4
Wycombe - Stuart Lewis & Joel Grant.......3
Discipline - All Comps
Plymouth........3 Red Cards - 53 Yellow Cards
Wycombe.......5 Red Cards - 43 Yellow Cards
League Form Guide
Plymouth.....Pld: 24...W: 5...D: 9...L: 10...Pts: 24...Pts per game: 1.00
Wycombe....Pld: 23...W: 7...D: 5...L: 11...Pts: 26...Pts per game: 1.13
Last Five league Games
Plymouth..........LWDDD - 6 points (Rank-15)
Wycombe.......WWDWL - 10 points (Rank-5)
Last Five League Games (Home)
Plymouth..........LDLWD - 5 points (Rank-19)
Last Five League Games (Away)
Wycombe.........DLWWL - 7 points (Rank-9)
Against Top Half Opposition
Plymouth........Pld: 13...Pts: 8....Pts per game: 0.62...(Rank-22)
Wycombe.......Pld: 12...Pts: 13...Pts per game: 1.08...(Rank-12)
Against Bottom Half Opposition
Plymouth........Pld: 11...Pts: 16...Pts per game: 1.45...(Rank-18)
Wycombe.......Pld: 11...Pts: 13...Pts per game: 1.18...(Rank-21)
Record in the First Half of games
Plymouth.......W: 6...D: 9...L: 9....Pts: 27 (Rank-17)
Wycombe......W: 8...D: 7...L: 8....Pts: 31 (Rank-11)
Record in the Second Half of games
Plymouth.......W: 7...D: 8...L: 9....Pts: 29 (Rank-15)
Wycombe......W: 4...D: 9...L: 10...Pts: 21 (Rank-23)
In 15 previous meetings there have been 6 wins for Plymouth, 4 for Wycombe and 5 draws.
At Home Park the tally is 5 wins for the Pilgrims, 1 for the Blues and 2 draws.
1994/95 Lg1: Plymouth 2 Wycombe 2
1996/97 Lg1: Plymouth 0 Wycombe 0
1997/98 Lg1: Plymouth 4 Wycombe 2
1998/99 FAC Plymouth 3 Wycombe 2
2002/03 Lg1: Plymouth 1 Wycombe 0
2003/04 FLT: Plymouth 2 Wycombe 2 (WW win 4-2 on pens)
2003/04 Lg1: Plymouth 2 Wycombe 1
2007/04 LGC Plymouth 2 Wycombe 1
The Man In The Middle
Saturday's referee is Brendan Malone from Wiltshire who was promoted to the National List of Referees in 2010. Last season he took charge of Wycombe's 5-0 home win over Hartlepool United. During the current campaign he's issued 3 red and 40 yellow cards in 14 appearances.
Benny: Plymouth 1 Wycombe 0
Len: Plymouth 1 Wycombe 1
Date:Thursday December 27 2012
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