Preview: Rochdale v Wycombe Wanderers
Wycombe Wanderers face Rochdale at Spotland this weekend hoping to extend their unbeaten run to seven games in all competitions.
There was a real sense of disappointment last weekend when the biggest home crowd of the season, which topped 4,000 for the first time, were subjected to a turgid 1-1 draw with then second bottom of the table York City. With the side having won four on the trot going into the game, many were hoping to see them show just how good they have been on their travels.
Instead it was an endurance test as the two teams played unattractive football for the most part. It may have been needs must for the Minstermen but it was bemusing to see the Chairboys struggle to pass to each other and resort to aimless long balls and Sanchez-esque hoofball. It meant there was little creativity or cutting edge in attack from the hosts.
Having fallen behind to David McGurk`s 63rd minute header, with the York Captain stealing in to take advantage of a dozing Kortney Hause and head past Matt Ingram, most home fans were just relieved to take a point and avoid defeat. Dean Morgan continued his goalscoring start to the campaign when he tucked home the rebound after Matt McClure`s shot had come back off the post.
The draw did at least maintain the Wanderers unbeaten run although they slip one place to 6th in the League Two table. Next up is a tricky looking trip to Spotland to face 7th placed Rochdale. The two sides are level on a goal difference of +4 and we are only above them by virtue of having scored one more goal. Keith Hill`s men will be looking to protect their unbeaten start at home, with three wins and one draw.
The Blues will be making their 9th visit to Spotland this weekend with a current record of 4 wins, 2 draws and 2 defeats. The first meeting came back in April 1994 as Martin O'Neill's side continued their push for automatic promotion in their inaugural Football League campaign.
Steve Whitehall put the hosts ahead after just three minutes and it wasn't until twenty minutes from time that Dave Carroll equalised after being teed up by Tony Hemmings. Substitute Jon Bowden restored Dale's lead six minutes later when his shot deflected past Paul Hyde but the Chairboys snatched a dramatic last minute equaliser when Simon Garner bundled the ball home from two yards after Glyn Creaser had headed the ball down from Carroll`s corner.
It would almost eleven years before the Wanderers returned to Spotland, this time under John Gorman in March 2005. Nathan Tyson grabbed an equaliser two minutes into the second half, cancelling out Gary Jones' first-half penalty to ensure the spoils would be shared in a 1-1 draw.
Less than five months later the sides renewed acquaintances with Gorman's side putting in one of their best performances in many a season. First half goals from Mike Williamson and Matt Bloomfield gave the visitors a two-goal lead at half-time but they should have been further ahead and had to endure a nervy finish after the home side pulled one back through a Jones' penalty.
There was controversy when the two sides met again in September 2006 after loan goalkeeper Ricardo Batista escaped with just a yellow card after handling outside his area. Within three minutes Tommy Mooney had put the visitors ahead and Paul Lambert's side survived a spell of sustained pressure before adding a second goal in injury-time through substitute Jonny Dixon.
A solitary goal decided the meeting in February 2008 with striker Leon Knight's 14th-minute strike enough to keep Lambert's Blues on course for a play-off place in League Two.The clash in September 2008 was also decided by just a single goal and it was Chris Zebroski who got it as he notched his first for the club in a 1-0 victory as Peter Taylor's side continued their fine start to the season.
The next meeting came in October 2011 with both sides now competing in League One. Scott Donnelly gave the visitors an early lead but Ashley Grimes levelled soon afterwards and then grabbed the winner midway through the second half as Gary Waddock's side continued their poor start to the campaign with a 2-1 defeat.
The last meeting between the two sides cam back in February of this year and it's one that Wycombe fans would rather forget. Stuart Lewis scored a dubious opener after 16 minutes when Matt McClure appeared to have fouled defender Shane Cansdell-Sheriff.
It made little difference however as Ian Henderson levelled within three minutes. Defender Michael Harriman put through his own net just three minutes into a one-sided second half and striker George Donnelly helped himself to a brace as the hosts ran out 4-1 winners. In truth it could have been a lot more with Dale missing a host of chances.
Gareth Ainsworth will have to make at least one change this weekend with striker Dean Morgan serving a one match ban after collecting his fifth booking of the season in last weekend`s draw with York City. It could mean a recall for striker Steven Craig who is set to return after missing out last week due to illness.
Defender Charles Dunne has had to settle for a place on the bench since returning from suspension but may earn a recall. Winger Junior Morias came on as a second half substitute to make his first appearance of the season last weekend but there was again no place for experienced midfielder Matt Spring.
Midfielder Josh Scowen and striker Jon-Paul Pittman weren't risked having only just recovered from ankle and back injuries respectively but returned for the 4-2 win over Chalfont St Peter in a Berks and Bucks Senior Cup tie in midweek. Winger Paris Cowan-Hall also featured in the game after missing the last five weeks with a knee ligament injury and could be named in the squad.
Defender Tommy Fletcher is doubtful after picking up a knock in training but would have been unlikely to make the squad in any case. With the absence of leading goalscorer Morgan, the management team might consider matching up with Rochdale`s preferred 4-5-1 formation with Scowen returning in a three-man central-midfield partnership.
Could the Blues startling line-up look something like this (4-5-1)?
Marvin McCoy - Gary Doherty - Leon Johnson - Charles Dunne
Paris Cowan-Hall - Billy Knott - Josh Scowen - Stuart Lewis - Sam Wood
Subs: Lee Harrison, Anthony Stewart, Kortney Hause, Matt Bloomfield, Max Kretzschmar, Jo Kuffour, Steven Craig
Rochdale are unbeaten in four matches, winning their last three on the bounce. Keith Hill made three changes to his starting line-up in their 2-1 win away at Accrington Stanley last weekend. Midfielder Gary Dicker was handed his full debut after signing a five-month deal following his release from Brighton and Hove Albion in the summer.
Midfielder Peter Vincenti returned after serving a one match ban whilst defender Rhys Bennett was also handed a recall. Midfielder Brian Barry-Murphy and loan striker Graham Cummins both dropped to the bench whilst defender Javan Vidal was left out of the 18-man squad altogether. Midfielder Bastien Hery was named on the bench in preference to teenager Callum Camps.
Striker George Donnelly was shown a straight red card for a poor challenge at the weekend. The club's appeal against the decision has been rejected and he will serve the first of a three game ban this weekend. It should mean a recall for Graham Cummins. Defender Peter Cavanagh will miss the next five weeks with an Achilles problem.
There isn't a single former Chairboy in the Dale squad.
Rochdale are expected to line up like this: (4-5-1):
Jack O`Connell - Oliver Lancashire - Rhys Bennett - Michael Rose
Peter Vincenti - Gary Dicker - Matt Lund - Scott Hogan - Ian Henderson
Subs: Robbie Thomson, Ashley Eastham, Joe Rafferty, Bastien Hery, Brian Barry-Murphy, Matt Done, Joe Bunney
Here are all the stats...
Wycombe's Away Record (All comps)....Won 3 - Drawn 1 - Lost 1
Rochdale's Home Record (All comps).....Won 3 - Drawn 1 - Lost 0
Last Five league Games
Wycombe........DWWWD - 11 points (Rank-6)
Rochdaley........LOWWW - 10 points (Rank-7)
Wycombe's last five games (All Competitions)
Lg2: Southend (H).........Won 2-1
JPT: Exeter (A)..............Won 2-0
Lg2: Hartlepool (A).........Won 2-1
Lg2: Plymouth (A)..........Won 3-0
Lg2: York City (H)..........Drew 1-1
Rochdale's last five games (All Competitions)
Lg2: Plymouth (A)...........Lost 0-1
Lg2: Oxford Utd (A).......Drew 1-1
Lg2: Bury (H).................Won 1-0
Lg2: Torquay (H)............Won 1-0
Lg2: Accrington (A).........Won 2-1
Performance comparison with Last season
Wycombe (10 points better off)
After 8 league games last season Wycombe were 23rd with 4 points
After 8 League games this season Wycombe are 6th with 14 points
Rochdale (2 points better off)
After 8 games last season Rochdale were 10th with 12 points
After 8 games this season Rochdale are 7th with 14 points
Wycombe Goal Stats (10 games in all Competitions)
Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 11...Cups: 3...Total: 14
Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 7....Cups: 2...Total: 9
Goals Scored (Away).........Lg: 7....Cups: 2...Total: 9
Goals Conceded (Away).....Lg: 4....Cups: 0...Total: 4
Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 2....Cups: 1...Total: 3
Failed to Score...................Lg: 2....Cups: 0...Total: 2
Rochdale Goal Stats (9 games in all Competitions)
Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 10...Cups: 0...Total: 10
Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 6.....Cups: 1...Total: 7
Goals Scored (Home).........Lg: 7.....Cups: 0...Total: 7
Goals Conceded (Home).....Lg: 2.....Cups: 0...Total: 2
Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 3.....Cups: 0...Total: 3
Failed to Score...................Lg: 2.....Cups: 1...Total: 3
Wycombe Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Rochdale Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Wycombe Shooting (Top-3) - (All Competitions)
Dean Morgan.........8 on-target...9 off-target...1 against woodwork
Max Kretzschmar...4 on-target...5 off-target...0 against woodwork
Billy Knott.............2 on-target...6 off-target...0 against woodwork
Rochdale Shooting (Top-3) - (All Competitions)
George Donnelly...3 on-target...12 off-target...0 against woodwork
Scott Hogan..........6 on-target.....8 off-target...0 against woodwork
Matthew Lund........6 on-target.....8 off-target...0 against woodwork
Shooting (Club) - (League only)
Wycombe.......26 on target...39 off target...2 against w'work (Rank-22)
Rochdale........26 on target...58 off target...1 against w'work (Rank-12)
Discipline - (All Competitions)
Wycombe..........2 Red Cards - 24 Yellow Cards
Rochdale...........3 Red Cards - 14 Yellow Cards
In 16 previous meetings there have been 6 wins for Wycombe, 6 for Rochdale and 4 draws.
At Spotland the tally is 4 wins for the Chairboys, 2 for the Dale and 2 draws.
1993/94: Lg2 Rochdale 2 Wycombe 2
1993/94: Lg2 Wycombe 1 Rochdale 1
2004/05: Lg2 Wycombe 0 Rochdale 3
2004/05: Lg2 Rochdale 1 Wycombe 1
2005/06: Lg2 Rochdale 1 Wycombe 2
2005/06: Lg2 Wycombe 3 Rochdale 0
2006/07: Lg2 Rochdale. 0 Wycombe 2
2006/07: Lg2 Wycombe 1 Rochdale 1
2007/08: Lg2 Wycombe 0 Rochdale 1
2007/08: Lg2 Rochdale 0 Wycombe 1
2008/09: Lg2 Rochdale 0 Wycombe 1
2008/09: Lg2 Wycombe 0 Rochdale 1
2011/12: Lg1 Rochdale 2 Wycombe 1
2011/12: Lg1 Wycombe 3 Rochdale 0
2012/13: Lg2 Wycombe 1 Rochdale 2
2012/13: Lg2 Rochdale 4 Wycombe 1
The Man In The Middle
Saturday's referee is David Webb from Lancashire who was promoted to the National list of Referees in 2008. Last season he took charge of Wycombe's 3-0 home win over Burton Albion. During the current campaign he's issued 1 red and 20 yellow cards in 6 games.
Rochdale 1 Wycombe 0