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Preview: Wycombe Wanderers v Exeter City


Wycombe Wanderers bounced back from their 4-0 Boxing Day drubbing at Cheltenham Town with a hard-fought if somewhat fortunate 1-0 victory over Plymouth Argyle at Home Park last time out.

The back-to-back away games between Christmas and the New Year have illustrated the difference in quality between the sides at the top and the bottom of League Two. The youthful Blues squad, decimated by injuries and suspensions, proved to be no match for the Robins but it was a different story against the Pilgrims who were unable to find a goal despite dominating the contest for large periods. Meanwhile at the other end striker Matt McClure showed his finishing ability as he received the ball from Stuart Lewis and coolly slotted past home goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin with his only real chance of the game.

Manager Gareth Ainsworth eulogised about the battling qualities of his squad afterwards and they were certainly needed in abundance. Some might argue there was a shortage of quality but given both the squad's and club's stretched resources, every point earned should be savoured. Ainsworth was forced to make yet more changes to his starting line-up with defender Charles Dunne and midfielder Josh Scowen both ruled-out with foot and hamstring injuries. That meant recalls for defender Anthony Stewart and midfielder Matt Spring. McClure also replaced Dennis Oli who dropped to the bench. The extent of the problems Ainsworth faces are illustrated by the fact he was able to name just six players on the bench.

The three points against the Pilgrims take the Chairboys up two places to 17th in the League Two table and the side is now ten points clear of the relegation zone and ten points off the play-off places. Wycombe begin 2013 with another clash against a Devon side, this time Exeter City, who travel to Adams Park on New Years Day. Both sides were relegated from League One last season but the Grecians have adapted better to life in the lower league. They took the three points when the two sides met at St. James Park back in September with goals from Ainsworth and Dean Morgan not enough to prevent the Blues from slipping to a 3-2 defeat in Gary Waddock's penultimate game in charge.

It will be just Exeter City's fifth ever visit to Adams Park on Tuesday and they will be looking to record their first win in the Chair Metropolis. The first meeting came back in December 2000 in a Football League Trophy tie played in front of just over 1,000 fans. The visitors, a division below, had goalkeeper Stuart Fraser to thank for keeping the Wanderers at bay for much of the game as he denied Jason Cousins, Steve Brown, Sam Parkin, Andy Rammell and Mo Harkin. Kevin Rapley almost stole the lead for the visitors with a quarter of an hour remaining when his shot clipped the outside of the post but it was trialist Niall Thompson who snatched the winner in the 88th minute when he tapped home Jermaine McSporran's cross.

There was a wait of just over eight more years until the two sides finally faced each other in the league on Boxing Day 2008. Both sides were chasing promotion from League Two with Peter Taylor's men flying high at the top of the table with a nine point lead. The Blues went ahead after just six minutes when striker Matt Harrold was brought down in the box and he picked himself up to score from the penalty spot. The visitors fought back after the break and snatched a deserved equaliser on 57 minutes when midfielder Manny Panther bundled the ball home from close range following a goalmouth scramble and the game finished all square at 1-1.

The following season they visited in March 2010 when the Blues were desperately trying to avoid a swift return to the basement division. It was 0-0 at half time and when Ainsworth broke clear and poked the ball home after 55 minutes and Beavon scored a similar goal six minutes later, things were looking peachy. That is until Liam Sercombe lashed home a 30 yard screamer after 66 minutes and Richard Logan (yes the same one) put another nail in our coffin with a last minute equaliser.

The fourth and last meeting between the sides at Adams Park came just over a year ago on Boxing Day. Both sides were now fighting what would be prove to be a losing battle against the drop. The hosts made the perfect start as they took the lead inside the first thirty seconds when loan striker Marcello Trotta swept home winger Anthony McNamee's low cross. The lead should have been extended and the Wanderers were made to pay for their profligacy when defender Danny Coles levelled for the Grecians midway through the first half after being left completely unmarked at the far post to head home from inside the six yard box.

Four minutes before half-time Trotta restored the home sides lead when he cut in from the left before shooting past visiting goalkeeper Artur Krysiak. The visitors should have equalised for a second time just four minutes into the second half when winger Jake Taylor was brought down inside the box by Nikki Bull but the goalkeeper maintained his excellent record for saving penalties when he guessed right to make a fine save from striker Guillem Bauza and then picked himself up quickly to block his effort from the re-bound. The three points were wrapped up with three minutes remaining when Trotta beat his marker on the right before shooting low past Krysiak to complete a fine hat trick.

Gareth Ainsworth could be boosted by the return of a quartet of players with winger Joel Grant making a very welcome return after serving a three game suspension. Defender Dave Winfield and striker Dean Morgan both have a good chance of returning from hamstring injuries whilst defender Charles Dunne may also be available after sitting out the win at Plymouth with a foot injury. Striker Adebayo Azeez is available after recovering from a hamstring injury and plays the last game of his current loan deal from Charlton Athletic. Midfielder Jesse Kewley-Graham is also struggling with what is believed to be a back problem and is rated doubtful.

There is some bad news with midfielder Josh Scowen set to miss the next seven to ten days with a hamstring strain. Defender Leon Johnson is ruled-out again with a knee problem and defender Danny Foster's bruised knee will keep him sidelined with a full 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...

Ade Azeez (Attacker) - available (returned as a second half substitute against Plymouth after recovering from a hamstring injury)

Joel Grant (Winger) - available (after serving a three match ban)

Charles Dunne (Defender) - doubtful (received stitches in his foot)

Dave Winfield (Centre Back) - doubtful (has missed the last fortnight with a hamstring strain)

Dean Morgan (Attacker) - doubtful (has missed the last fortnight with a hamstring strain)

Jesse Kewley-Graham (Midfielder) - doubtful (believed to be struggling with a back problem)

Josh Scowen (Midfielder) - ruled-out with a hamstring injury (could be sidelined for the next seven to ten days)

Leon Johnson (Centre Back) - ruled-out with a knee injury (timescale for recovery unknown)

Danny Foster (Right Back) - ruled out with a knee 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)

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

Marvin McCoy - Dave Winfield - Kortney Hause - Sam Wood

Bruno Andrade - Matt Spring - Stuart Lewis - Joel Grant

Dean Morgan - Matt McClure

Subs: Lee Harrison, Anthony Stewart, Charles Dunne, Gareth Ainsworth, Junior Morias, Ade Azeez, Jo Kuffour


Exeter City boss Paul Tisdale will be scratching his head due to his side's inability to win at home. They have won all of their last three away games, scoring three goals at both Gillingham and Rochdale in the process, but haven't won any of their last five matches at St. James Park. They conspired to let slip a two goal lead to draw 2-2 with Barnet last time out with the visitors snatching an equaliser in the 8th minute of injury-time! It leaves them in 11th place in the League Two table, six points ahead of the Blues.

Tisdale sprung something of a surprise against the Bees when he dropped leading goalscorer Jamie Cureton in favour of winger Jimmy Keohane, with the formation switched to 4-4-2. He is likely to revert back to his preferred 4-3-3 formation with Cureton set for a recall. He has a doubt over ex-Chairboys midfielder Tommy Doherty who has missed the last five weeks with a hamstring injury. Striker Guillem Bauza is definitely ruled-out through injury. Ex-Wanderer Craig Woodman is expected to line-up at left-back.

Exeter City should line-up something like this (4-3-3):

Artur Krysiak

Steve Tully - Danny Coles - Pat Baldwin - Craig Woodman

Liam Sercombe - Scot Bennett - Matt Oakley

John O'Flynn - Jamie Cureton - Alan Gow

Subs: Rhys Evans, Kevin Awankwaah, Jordan Moore-Taylor, Aaron Dawson, Arron Davies, Jimmy Keohane, Tommy Doherty


Here are all the stats...


The league table currently shows Wycombe in 17th place with 29 points and Exeter in 11th spot with 35 points, both sides having played 24 games.


Exeter Away Record........W 7 - D 1 - L 3 - Pts 22...Ppg 2.00 (Rank-3)

Wycombe Home Record...W 3 - D 4 - L 4 - Pts 13...Ppg 1.18 (Rank-16)


Exeter's last five results (All Competitions)

Lg2: Rotherham (H)...........Lost 0-1

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

Lg2: Plymouth (H)............Drew 1-1

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

Lg2: Barnet (H)................Drew 2-2


Wycombe's last five results (All Competitions)

JPT: Yeovil (A)...................Lost 0-2

Lg2: Morecambe (H).........Drew 2-2

Lg2: Accrington (A)............Won 2-0

Lg2: Cheltenham (A)..........Lost 0-4

Lg2: Plymouth (A)..............Won 1-0


Exeter Goal Stats (27 games in all Competitions)

Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 36...Cups: 1...Total: 37

Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 37...Cups: 3...Total: 40

Goals Scored (Away).........Lg: 20...Cups: 0...Total: 20

Goals Conceded (Away).....Lg: 17...Cups: 1...Total: 18

Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 4.....Cups: 1...Total: 5

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


Wycombe Goal Stats (28 games in all Competitions)

Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 28...Cups: 4...Total: 32

Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 36...Cups: 8...Total: 44

Goals Scored (Home).........Lg: 13...Cups: 0...Total: 13

Goals Conceded (Home).....Lg: 12...Cups: 0...Total: 12

Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 7.....Cups: 0...Total: 7

Failed to score...................Lg: 7.....Cups: 2...Total: 9


Exeter's Top Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)

Jamie Cureton........16

John O'Flynn............8

Scott Bennett...........3

Alan Gow.................3

Two 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............7

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


Exeter Shooting (Top-3) - All Comps

Jamie Cureton....44 on-target...19 off-target...3 against woodwork

Alan Gow...........22 on-target...22 off-target...2 against woodwork

Arron Davies......12 on-target...13 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........9 on-target...13 off-target...1 against woodwork


Shooting (Club) - League only

Exeter........128 on target...106 off target...6 against w'work (Rank-15)

Wycombe.....94 on target...101 off target...6 against w'work (Rank-22)


Most Assists

Exeter - Alan Gow................7

Wycombe - Stuart Lewis.......4


Discipline - All Comps

Exeter...........0 Red Cards - 33 Yellow Cards

Wycombe.......5 Red Cards - 45 Yellow Cards


League Form Guide

All Season


Exeter.........Pld: 24...W: 10...D: 5...L: 9.....Pts: 35...Pts per game: 1.46

Wycombe....Pld: 24...W: 8.....D: 5...L: 11...Pts: 29...Pts per game: 1.21


Last Five league Games

Exeter...............LWDLD - 5 points (Rank-21)

Wycombe.......WDWLW - 10 points (Rank-5)


Last Five League Games (Away)

Exeter............DLWWW - 10 points (Rank-3)


Last Five League Games (Home)

Wycombe..........LLWWD - 7 points (Rank-15)


Against Top Half Opposition

Exeter...........Pld: 11...Pts: 13...Pts per game: 1.18...(Rank-9)

Wycombe......Pld: 12...Pts: 10...Pts per game: 0.83...(Rank-20)


Against Bottom Half Opposition

Exeter...........Pld: 13...Pts: 22...Pts per game: 1.69...(Rank-11)

Wycombe......Pld: 12...Pts: 19...Pts per game: 1.58...(Rank-15)


Record in the First Half of games

Exeter...........W: 9...D: 6...L: 9....Pts: 33 (Rank-10)

Wycombe......W: 9...D: 7...L: 8....Pts: 34 (Rank-7)


Record in the Second Half of games

Exeter...........W: 8...D: 8....L: 8.....Pts: 32 (Rank-11)

Wycombe......W: 4...D: 10...L: 10...Pts: 22 (Rank-23)


Previous Meetings

In 8 previous meetings there have been 3 wins for Wycombe, 2 for Exeter and 3 draws.

At Adams Park the tally is 2 wins for the Blues, 0 for the Grecians and 2 draws.

2000/01 FLT: Wycombe 1 Exeter 0

2008/09 Lg2: Wycombe 1 Exeter 1

2008/09 Lg2: Exeter 1 Wycombe 0

2009/10 Lg1: Exeter 1 Wycombe 1

2009/10 Lg1: Wycombe 2 Exeter 2

2011/12 Lg1: Wycombe 3 Exeter 1

2011/12 Lg1: Exeter 1 Wycombe 3

2012/13 Lg1: Exeter 3 Wycombe 2


The Man In The Middle

Tuesday's referee is Andy Davies from Hampshire who is enjoying his first season on the National List of Referees. This will be his first Wycombe game. During the current campaign he's issued 1 red and 45 yellow cards in 14 appearances.


Predictions

Benny: Wycombe 1 Exeter 1

Len: Wycombe 3 Exeter 2




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The Journalist

Writer: Benny & Len Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday December 31 2012

Time: 12:48AM

 

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