Writer: Benny & Len
Date:Saturday February 2 2013
Wycombe Wanderers return to action after a 16 day break with arguably their biggest test of the season to date. They travel to the Priestfield Stadium on Monday evening to face high flying Gillingham in a clash to be shown live on Sky TV.
The Chairboys continued their resurgence under manager Gareth Ainsworth with a narrow but deserved 1-0 victory over Dagenham and Redbridge at a chilly Adams Park last time out. That the game even took place is a testament to what Wycombe Wanderers stands for as a football club in 2013. Very much in the spirit of 'where there's a will, there's a way' the club came together to arrange for Adams Park to be cleared of ice and snow and enabled the game to be played. It represents the kind of spirit that has been shown in abundance over the last 125 years and meant the players could go out there and do their thing. The Blues were the better side over the 90 minutes, albeit marginally, and although the game won't live long in the memory, the winning goal came from a neatly crafted move which was given the finish it deserved by in-form winger Sam Wood.
Ainsworth made just one change to the starting line-up which had snatched a 2-2 draw at AFC Wimbledon with defender Anthony Stewart recalled to the side to partner Dave Winfield. Defender Kortney Hause dropped to the bench where he was joined by winger Junior Morais, who returned to the squad. He replaced striker Matt McClure who missed out due to the impending birth of his first child. There is no doubting the effect Ainsworth has had on the squad and the statistics certainly show the level of improvement. In the Chairboys last eleven league matches they have won seven, drawn two and lost two. That is 23 points from a possible 33. Talk about a possible play-off challenge may seem more than a little premature but the clash with the Gills is sure to show where the current team is at.
Wycombe Wanderers will make their twelfth visit to the Priestfield Stadium on Monday evening and will be looking for only their third victory. In the previous eleven meetings the Gills have won five whilst four have been drawn. The first ever clash came back in November 1932 and it was a historic occasion as the Chairboys made it through to the first round proper of the F.A. Cup for the first time in their history. Liddle put the hosts ahead after 39 minutes but Dick Braisher levelled on 75 minutes to claim a 1-1 draw. It would be more than sixty years before the sides met again with the Blues having won promotion to the Football League, and Martin O'Neill's side snatched all three points in February 1994 when striker Tim Langford capitalised on a defensive mix-up to tap home the winner in the 89th minute to record a 1-0 victory.
The next meeting in November 1995 will haunt the memories of the Wanderers' fans who were there. Al*n Sm*th's side put in one of most abject displays in the club's history as they fell to a 1-0 defeat in an F.A. Cup first round replay with Terry Howard putting through his own net after just eight minutes. There followed a trio of defeats in successive seasons. Striker Iffy Onoura bundled home an 86th winner as the Blues lost 1-0 in March 1997 and seven months later another 1-0 defeat followed when striker Ade Akinbiyi scored the winner in the 78th winner with the away fans spending the 90 minutes getting soaked on the uncovered terrace. Worse was to follow in October 1998 when Neil Smillie's side was comfortably beaten 3-0 with midfielder Paul Emblen seeing red late on.
The Wanderers finally gave their opponents a proper game in August 1999 when Lawrie Sanchez's side took on Peter Taylor's Gills. There was more frustration however as the visitors twice let a lead slip, thanks in part to an inept display from referee David Elleray. Andy Baird was tripped in the box after 34 minutes and Steve Brown scored from the spot but within five minutes Elleray had evened it up when Robert Taylor took an outrageous dive over Paul McCarthy's challenge and the rotund striker picked himself up to beat Martin Taylor from 12 yards. McCarthy appeared to have won it when he looped a header into the net with ten minutes remaining but Taylor flapped at a cross to gift substitute Brian McGlinchey the chance to equalise in the 86th minute and the game ended 2-2.
There was another 2-2 draw in a Football League Trophy second round tie in November 2005 when a brace from striker Charlie Griffin overturned a two-goal deficit and defender Roger Johnson fired home the deciding penalty to win the shoot-out 3-1. Five years later the two sides met again in December 2008 with the Chairboys now under the stewardship of Peter Taylor and a bizarre own goal from Gills' Stuart Lewis gave the visitors the lead on the half hour. They couldn't hold on however as Curtis Weston snatched an equaliser in the 85th minute and game ended in a 1-1 draw. The 3-2 defeat in October 2009 came under the caretaker charge of Richard Dobson, following the sacking of Taylor and the last visit came on a windy November evening in 2010 when goals from current boss Gareth Ainsworth and winger Kevin Betsy sealed a deserved 2-0 victory.
Ainsworth has tended to stick with a settled line-up as much as possible and is unlikely to make too many changes against the Gills. The one likely switch could see Matt McClure come back into the side with striker Jo Kuffour the most likely to drop back to the bench. It was hoped that defender Leon Johnson would return to training after more than two months out with a knee injury but this has yet to be confirmed publicly. He will miss the meeting with one of his former sides and is unlikely to be ready for first team action for at least a couple of weeks. Defender Gary Doherty is also close to a return to training after recovering from surgery on his back. Midfielder Matt Bloomfield continues his rehabilitation after suffering with a pelvic shear but there is no date set for his return to first team action. Defender Danny Foster could face a second operation on his knee and that could mean he misses the rest of the season. Full-back Grant Basey has already been ruled-out for the rest of the campaign as he continues his rehabilitation following surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament.
Here's the current list of players availability...
Leon Johnson (Centre Back) - ruled-out with a knee injury (set to return to training, but at least a fortnight away from a return to first team action)
Gary Doherty (Centre Back) - ruled out with a back injury (set to return to training after recovering from surgery, but at least a fortnight away from a return to first team action)
Matt Bloomfield (Midfielder) - ruled out with a groin injury (no timescale given for a return to first team action)
Danny Foster (Right Back) - ruled out with a knee injury (could need a second operation and may not play again this season)
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):
Michael Harriman - Anthony Stewart - Dave Winfield - Charles Dunne
Joel Grant - Josh Scowen - Stuart Lewis - Sam Wood
Dean Morgan - Matt McClure
Subs: Lee Harrison, Kortney Hause, Marvin McCoy, Gareth Ainsworth, Bruno Andrade, Matt Spring, Jo Kuffour
Gillingham temporarily returned to the top of the League Two table after goals from striker Cody McDonald and winger Myles Weston sealed a 2-0 victory over Northampton Town at the Priestfield Stadium in midweek but Port Vale's 3-0 win over Accrington earlier today has seen the Gills drop back to second place, albeit with a game in hand.
It was the Gills first home win in half-a-dozen matches and they will be looking for back-to-back victories against the Wanderers on Monday evening. Manager Martin Allen's rotation policy continued as he made four changes to the starting line-up in midweek. Defender Matt Fish returned at right-back whilst winger Myles Weston was recalled to the right flank. Striker Cody McDonald was given his first start after re-signing on loan from Coventry City last week and notched his second goal in as many matches. He was partnered in attack by recalled striker Deon Burton. Wingers Charlie Allen and Chris Whelpdale and strikers Adam Birchall and Danny Kedwell all dropped the bench.
Defender Andy Frampton was switched back into an unorthodox right midfield position whilst midfielder Charlie Lee was able to continue despite taking a blow to the head last weekend. Transfer-listed striker Ben Strevens was surprisingly recalled on the bench and he replaced teenage defender Sam Muggleton who was left out of the squad altogether. Strevens has now left the club to re-join Dagenham and Redbridge on a permanent deal. Defender Leon Legge's loan move from Brentford has now been made permanent whilst midfielder Bradley Dack will return after his loan at Braintree Town ends after the weekend. Winger Anton Robinson has joined on loan from Huddersfield Town for the rest of the season and is set to go straight into the squad. Allen has no new injury concerns and has a fully-fit squad to choose from.
There are two ex-Chairboys in the Gills squad, one of whom is very likely to start. Midfielder Steven Gregory came through the youth system at Adams Park and made his debut as a substitute in the final game of the 2005/06 season at Peterborough United. He made half-a-dozen substitute appearances before being released in the summer of 2008. He joined the Gills last month after being released by AFC Bournemouth. The other player is striker Adam Birchall who spent three months on loan from Arsenal between August and November 2004. He made 15 appearances and scored 5 goals whilst at Adams Park. He joined Gillingham from Dover Athletic in the summer of 2011 but suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury which kept him out for a year. He finally made his debut for the Gills in August 2012.
Gillingham could line up something like this: (4-4-2):
Matt Fish - Adam Barrett - Leon Legge - Joe Martin
Andy Frampton - Charlie Lee - Steven Gregory - Myles Weston
Cody McDonald - Danny Kedwell
Subs: Tommy Forecast, Callum Davies, Anton Robinson, Chris Whelpdale, Charlie Allen, Adam Birchall, Deon Burton
Here are all the stats...
The league table currently shows Wycombe in 18th place with 36 points and Gillingham in 2nd spot with 55 points, both sides having played 28 games.
Gill'gham Home Record....W 7 - D 4 - L 4 - Pts 25...Ppg 1.67 (Rank-9)
Wycombe Away Record....W 5 - D 2 - L 7 - Pts 17...Ppg 1.21 (Rank-11)
Gillingham's last five results (All Competitions)
Lg2: Southend (A)............Won 1-0
Lg2: Bristol Rovers (A)......Won 2-0
Lg2: Port Vale (H)..............Lost 1-2
Lg2: York City (H)............Drew 1-1
Lg2: Northampton (H)........Won 2-0
Wycombe's last five results (All Competitions)
Lg2: Plymouth (A)..............Won 1-0
Lg2: Exeter (H)..................Lost 0-1
Lg2: Chesterfield (H)..........Won 2-1
Lg2: Wimbledon (A)..........Drew 2-2
Lg2: Dagenham (H)............Won 1-0
Gillingham Goal Stats (33 games in all Competitions)
Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 48...Cups: 8...Total: 56
Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 24...Cups: 8...Total: 32
Goals Scored (Home).........Lg: 28...Cups: 4...Total: 32
Goals Conceded (Home).....Lg: 15...Cups: 2...Total: 17
Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 11...Cups: 1...Total: 12
Failed to score...................Lg: 3.....Cups: 2...Total: 5
Wycombe Goal Stats (32 games in all Competitions)
Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 33...Cups: 4...Total: 37
Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 40...Cups: 8...Total: 48
Goals Scored (Away).........Lg: 17...Cups: 4...Total: 21
Goals Conceded (Away).....Lg: 26...Cups: 8...Total: 34
Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 8.....Cups: 0...Total: 8
Failed to score...................Lg: 8.....Cups: 2...Total: 10
Gillingham's Top Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Seven other players have each scored 2 goals.
Seven other players have each scored 1 goal
Wycombe's Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Gillingham Shooting (Top-3) - All Comps
Chris Whelpdale...29 on-target...30 off-target...1 against woodwork
Myles Weston.......30 on-target...25 off-target...3 against woodwork
Deon Burton........21 on-target...21 off-target...0 against woodwork
Wycombe Shooting (Top-3) - All Comps
Dean Morgan......23 on-target...17 off-target...6 against woodwork
Joel Grant...........18 on-target...20 off-target...0 against woodwork
Matt McClure.......12 on-target...14 off-target...1 against woodwork
Shooting (Club) - League only
Gillingham..155 on target...162 off target...8 against w'work (Rank-8)
Wycombe...110 on target...112 off target...9 against w'work (Rank-23)
Gillingham - Myles Weston...........7
Wycombe - Lewis & Grant............4
Discipline - All Comps
Gillingham......5 Red Cards - 45 Yellow Cards
Wycombe.......5 Red Cards - 50 Yellow Cards
League Form Guide
Gillingham....Pld: 28...W: 16...D: 7...L: 5.....Pts: 55...Pts per game: 1.96
Wycombe.....Pld: 28...W: 10...D: 6...L: 12...Pts: 36...Pts per game: 1.29
Last Five league Games
Gillingham.....WWLDW - 10 points (Rank-4)
Wycombe......WLWDW - 10 points (Rank-5)
Last Five League Games (Home)
Gillingham.......DLLDW - 5 points (Rank-20)
Last Five League Games (Away)
Wycombe.......WWLWD - 10 points (Rank-6)
Against Top Half Opposition
Gillingham.....Pld: 14...Pts: 30...Pts per game: 2.14...(Rank-1)
Wycombe......Pld: 14...Pts: 14...Pts per game: 1.00...(Rank-17)
Against Bottom Half Opposition
Gillingham.....Pld: 14...Pts: 25...Pts per game: 1.79...(Rank-7)
Wycombe......Pld: 14...Pts: 22...Pts per game: 1.57...(Rank-15)
First 45 mins v Second 45 mins - Performance Comparison
Gillingham......W: 15...D: 9...L: 4...'Pts: 54' (Rank-1)
Wycombe.......W: 10...D: 9...L: 9...'Pts: 39' (Rank-11)
Gillingham......W: 9...D: 15...L: 4.....'Pts: 42' (Rank-8)
Wycombe.......W: 6...D: 11...L: 11...'Pts: 29' (Rank-22)
League Goals scored in First-Half
Gillingham.......30 (63%) (Rank-1)
Wycombe........19 (58%) (Rank-9)
League Goals scored in Second-Half
Gillingham.......18 (37%) (Rank-18)
Wycombe........14 (42%) (Rank-22)
League Goals conceded in First-Half
Gillingham.......11 (46%) (Rank-1)
Wycombe........18 (45%) (Rank-12)
League Goals conceded in Second-Half
Gillingham.......13 (54%) (Rank-1)
Wycombe........22 (55%) (Rank-12)
Record when scoring the first goal
Gillingham scored first...19 times (W:16 - D:1 - L:2) Ppg: 2.58 (Rank-4)
Wycombe scored frst.....14 times (W:8 - D:4 - L:2) Ppg: 2.00 (Rank-19)
Record when conceding the first goal
Gills conceded first.........7 times (W:0 - D:4 - L:3) Ppg: 0.57 (Rank-10)
Wyc'be conceded first...12 times (W:2 - D:0 - L:10) Ppg: 0.50 (Rank-13)
In 22 previous meetings there have been 8 wins for Gillingham. 7 for Wycombe and 7 draws.
At Priestfield Stadium there have been 5 wins for Gillingham, 2 for Wycombe and 4 draws.
1932/33 FAC: Gillingham 1 Wycombe 1
1993/94 LG2: Gillingham 0 Wycombe 1
1995/96 FAC: Gillingham 1 Wycombe 0
1996/97 LG1: Gillingham 1 Wycombe 0
1997/98 LG1: Gillingham 1 Wycombe 0
1998/99 LG1: Gillingham 3 Wycombe 0
1999/00 LG1: Gillingham 2 Wycombe 2
2005/06 FLT:: Gillingham 2 Wycombe 2
2008/09 LG2: Gillingham 1 Wycombe 1
2009/10 LG1: Gillingham 3 Wycombe 2
2010/11 LG2: Gillingham 0 Wycombe 2
The Man In The Middle
Monday's referee is Roger East from Wiltshire who was promoted to Elite List of Premier League referees this summer having been on the National List since 2007. Last season he took charge of Wycombe'a 1-1 draw at home to Walsall. During the current campaign he's issued 5 red and 90 yellow cards in 30 appearances.
Benny: Gillingham 2 Wycombe 1
Len: Gillingham 3 Wycombe 0
Date:Saturday February 2 2013
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