Writer: Benny & Len
Date:Monday February 11 2013
Wycombe Wanderers are on an upward curve and very much looking upwards in the League Two table after thumping York City 4-0 at Adams Park at the weekend.
Gareth Ainsworth made one change to the starting line-up which had won so impressive away at title chasing Gillingham in front of the Sky cameras on Monday evening, with match winner Matt McClure handed a starting role in preference to striker Jo Kuffour who dropped to the bench. There was a welcome return to the bench for defender Leon Johnson, who made his first appearance in the squad for ten weeks after recovering from a knee injury.
The performance was one to savour yet again as the side just had too much in every department for York City. Within two minutes the hard work of striker Dean Morgan (yes, that's right!) saw him pick the pocket of midfielder Scott Kerr who then brought him down inside the box as he tried to make amends for his error. Morgan stepped up to slot the resulting penalty past visiting goalkeeper Michael Ingham.
Ingham somehow denied winger Sam Wood a second goal with a save from point blank range but was beaten again in first half injury-time when winger Joel Grant was pulled down by defender Jamal Fyfield and Morgan again did the honours from the spot and blasted the ball down the middle.
The second half saw the Chairboys dominate proceedings and score a delightful third goal after 59 minutes when some tenacious midfield play from renowned scufflers Stuart Lewis and Josh Scowen allowed Grant to run at the visitors defence and he dissected three players before darting into the area and slotting the ball under Ingham to find the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
'Dangerous' Dave Winfield completed the scoring with a header from Scowen's right-wing corner on 78 minutes, having crashed a header against the bar less than minute earlier. It made it three wins on the bounce, all of which have come with clean sheets, and it is now nine wins in 13 (seven of those with clean sheets) and 29 points from a possible 39. Who says stats aren't sexy?
The 3,383 crowd was undoubtedly disappointing but none of the home fans in that number were disappointed as they enjoyed yet another impressive display from Ainsworth's fast-improving side. There is quality in abundance but it is the desire to earn the right to play that is most encouraging, and there is a fast-increasing sense of optimism around Adams Park that a campaign that has to-date only promised another season in the Football League could now flourish into a play-off tilt with the hope that even a Wembley appearance could be on the horizon. The only question is whether you dare to dream?
It will be Bradford 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 an 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 was 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 will be hoping he can stick with the same 18-man squad for the re-arranged league clash with the Bantams on Tuesday evening with winger Joel Grant substituted shortly after scoring at the weekend with a thigh strain. The biggest worry will be maintaining a level of fitness with so many players busting a gut for the cause. Ainsworth however isn't concerned and told the local press:
'After Monday night, I think a few of them were probably on half tanks, because we gave everything that night, and not to be fully recovered and to put in a performance like that speaks absolute volumes of where we are."
"I'm not worried about Tuesday night, because it's part of the management to get them recovered right. What we've done since I took over is very professional. We have very intensive yoga warm-downs and fitness work and all that's paying off now - in injury prevention as well. The work we put in 16 weeks ago is now paying dividends because we're not getting any injuries, which is great. We're stronger and fitter and it's great to see.'
Defender Gary Doherty is also at least a fortnight away form a return as he recovers from surgery on his back. Midfielder Matt Bloomfield continues his rehabilitation after suffering with a pelvic shear. 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 and he continues his rehabilitation following surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament.
Here's the current list of player availability...
Leon Johnson (Centre Back) - available (named on the bench at the weekend after ten weeks out with a knee injury)
Gary Doherty (Centre Back) - very doubtful (returned to training last week after recovering from back surgery)
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 (set to undergo 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, Leon Johnson, Marvin McCoy, Gareth Ainsworth, Bruno Andrade, Matt Spring, Jo Kuffour
Bradford City have one of the biggest games in their entire history in just under a fortnight's time when they travel to Wembley to face Swansea City in the final of the League Cup. As a consequence of their cup exploits they have won just one of their last eight matches in League Two, losing four of their last six, including a 1-0 defeat at home to Gillingham last time out.
The Bantams slipped to 12th place in the table, with the Chairboys having leapfrogged them at the weekend. It is understandable that, whatever manager Phil Parkinson says, his squad will have one eye on the final, and this could be a good time to face them.
Parkinson made four changes to the starting line-up at the weekend with defender Curtis Good coming back into the side after recovering from illness. Loan defender Tom Naylor was also recalled for a rare start with defender Ryan Dickson dropping to the bench and defender Rory McArdle ruled out through injury. Wingers Kyel Reid and Zavon Hines were both handed starting roles with wingers Garry Thompson and Will Atkinson having to settle for places on the bench.
Defender Andrew Davies was surprisingly named on the bench after missing the last five months following knee surgery. There was no place in the squad for defender Carl McHugh, midfielder Ricky Ravenhill or loan winger Blair Turgott. Parkinson will again be without defender Rory McArdle who is still hoping an ankle ligament injury won't keep him out of the forthcoming League Cup final. Defender James Meredith will also be hoping to be available for the trip to Wembley and could return to training this week as he continues his recovery from glandular fever.
One of the two ex-Chairboys in the Bantams squad is defender Luke Oliver but he has been ruled-out for the rest of the season following surgery on a ruptured Achilles. The other is Matt Duke and he should keep his place between the sticks after a fine display against Villa in midweek.
Bradford City could line up something like this: (4-4-2):
Stephen Darby - Curtis Good - Michael Nelson - Ryan Dickson
Zavon Hines - Gary Jones, Nathan Doyle - Kyel Reid
Alan Connell - Nahki Wells
Subs: Jon McLaughlin, Carl McHugh, Tom Naylor, Garry Thompson, Will Atkinson, Andy Gray, James Hanson
Here are all the stats...
The league table currently shows Wycombe in 11th place with 42 points from 30 games and Bradford in 12th spot with 41 points from 29 games.
Bradford Away Record.....W 3 - D 6 - L 5 - Pts 15...Ppg 1.07 (Rank-15)
Wycombe Home Record...W 6 - D 4 - L 5 - Pts 22...Ppg 1.47 (Rank-14)
Bradford's last five results (All Competitions)
Lg2: Oxford (H)................Lost 1-2
JPT: Crewe (A).................Lost 1-4
LCp: Aston Villa (A)..........Lost 1-2
Lg2: Fleetwood (A)..........Drew 2-2
Lg2: Gillingham (H)...........Lost 0-1
Wycombe's last five results (All Competitions)
Lg2: Chesterfield (H)..........Won 2-1
Lg2: Wimbledon (A)..........Drew 2-2
Lg2: Dagenham (H)............Won 1-0
Lg2: Gillingham (A)............Won 1-0
Lg2: York City (H)..............Won 4-0
Bradford Goal Stats (43 games in all Competitions)
Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 40...Cups: 21...Total: 61
Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 36...Cups: 20...Total: 56
Goals Scored (Away).........Lg: 17...Cups: 10...Total: 27
Goals Conceded (Away).....Lg: 22...Cups: 12...Total: 34
Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 10...Cups: 4.....Total: 14
Failed to score...................Lg: 9.....Cups: 2.....Total: 11
Wycombe Goal Stats (34 games in all Competitions)
Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 38...Cups: 4...Total: 42
Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 40...Cups: 8...Total: 48
Goals Scored (Home).........Lg: 20...Cups: 0...Total: 20
Goals Conceded (Home).....Lg: 14...Cups: 0...Total: 14
Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 10...Cups: 0...Total: 10
Failed to score...................Lg: 8.....Cups: 2...Total: 10
Bradford's Top Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Three 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.....39 on-target...53 off-target...2 against woodwork
Nahki Wells.........54 on-target...36 off-target...5 against woodwork
Gary Jones..........29 on-target...23 off-target...4 against woodwork
Wycombe Shooting (Top-3) - All Comps
Dean Morgan......25 on-target...19 off-target...6 against woodwork
Joel Grant...........20 on-target...23 off-target...0 against woodwork
Matt McClure.......14 on-target...15 off-target...1 against woodwork
Shooting (Club) - League only
Bradford....175 on target...187 off target...11 against w'work (Rank-5)
Wycombe...124 on target...123 off target...9 against w'work (Rank-22)
Bradford - Gary Jones.......10
Wycombe - Josh Scowen.....5
Discipline - All Comps
Bradford........2 Red Cards - 43 Yellow Cards
Wycombe.......5 Red Cards - 55 Yellow Cards
League Form Guide
Bradford....Pld: 29...W: 11...D: 8...L: 10....Pts: 41...Pts per game: 1.41
Wycombe...Pld: 30...W: 12...D: 6...L: 12....Pts: 42...Pts per game: 1.40
First-half of the season
Bradford.......Pld: 23...W: 11...D: 6...L: 6....Pts: 39...Pts per game: 1.70
Wycombe......Pld: 23...W: 7....D: 5...L: 11...Pts: 26...Pts per game: 1.13
Second-half of the season
Bradford.......Pld: 6...W: 0...D: 2...L: 4...Pts: 2.....Pts per game: 0.33
Wycombe......Pld: 7...W: 5...D: 1...L: 1...Pts: 16...Pts per game: 2.29
Last Five league Games
Bradford............DLLDL - 2 points (Rank-23)
Wycombe.....WDWWW - 13 points (Rank-2)
Last Five League Games (Away)
Bradford...........DDDLD - 4 points (Rank-16)
Last Five League Games (Home)
Wycombe......DLWWW - 10 points (Rank-5)
Against Top Half Opposition
Bradford.......Pld: 12...Pts: 12...Pts per game: 1.00...(Rank-18)
Wycombe......Pld: 14...Pts: 16...Pts per game: 1.14...(Rank-15)
Against Bottom Half Opposition
Bradford.......Pld: 17...Pts: 29...Pts per game: 1.71...(Rank-11)
Wycombe......Pld: 16...Pts: 26...Pts per game: 1.63...(Rank-14)
First 45 mins v Second 45 mins - Performance Comparison
Bradford.......W: 6.....D: 14...L: 9...'Pts: 32' (Rank-21)
Wycombe......W: 11...D: 10...L: 9...'Pts: 43' (Rank-7)
Brasdford.......W: 10...D: 12...L: 7.....'Pts: 42' (Rank-10)
Wycombe.......W: 8.....D: 11...L: 11...'Pts: 35' (Rank-18)
League Goals scored in First-Half
Bradford.........17 (42%) (Rank-15)
Wycombe........21 (55%) (Rank-4)
League Goals scored in Second-Half
Bradford.........23 (58%) (Rank-10)
Wycombe........17 (45%) (Rank-21)
League Goals conceded in First-Half
Bradford.........20 (56%) (Rank-18)
Wycombe........18 (45%) (Rank-10)
League Goals conceded in Second-Half
Bradford.........16 (44%) (Rank-4)
Wycombe........22 (55%) (Rank-12)
Record when scoring the first goal
Bradford scored first....12 times (W:10 - D:1 - L:1) Ppg: 2.58 (Rank-5)
Wycombe scored frst....16 times (W:10 - D:4 - L:2) Ppg: 2.13 (Rank-16)
Record when conceding the first goal
Bradf'd conceded first...14 times (W:1 - D:4 - L:9) Ppg: 0.50 (Rank-10)
Wyc'be conceded first...12 times (W:2 - D:0 - L:10) Ppg: 0.50 (Rank-12)
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
Tuesday'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 in Gareth Ainsworth's first match as caretaker manager. During the current campaign Mr Mathieson has issued 8 red and 68 yellow cards in 27 appearances.
Benny: Wycombe 3 Bradford 1
Len: Wycombe 1 Bradford 1
Date:Monday February 11 2013
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Preview: Morecambe v Wycombe Wanderers (Thursday October 9 2014)
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