Preview: Stevenage v Wycombe Wanderers
Wycombe Wanderers travel to Stevenage on Saturday for their fourth league game of the season
Tuesday night`s 2-0 defeat to Tranmere Rovers at Adams Park signalled the end of Wycombe`s perfect start to the season after wins at Newport County and at home to Carlisle United.
Gareth Ainsworth named an unchanged line-up for the fourth consecutive time and the game began with the Chairboys on the front foot. However, they found visiting goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams in fine form, as the shot stopper was called upon on at least four separate occasions to deny the hosts.
Despite an enterprising mix of passing football and direct play, Wanderers could not force a way through and the visitors headed back to Merseyside with the spoils.
Tranmere looked an impressive outfit and clinically took their chances when they arrived. An Aaron Pierre slip proved costly as Cole Stockton reacted to fire home an instinctive half volley after 19 minutes. The outstanding Max Power lashed home from the edge of the area after 54 minutes to seal the three points.
Both goals came at critical times when the home side was on top, but to their credit Wycombe kept going. On another day they could easily have been on the right end of the result and the performance was certainly an improvement on most of the fare served up at Adams Park last season.
Stuart Lewis returned to the bench in midweek and replaced Junior Morias in an otherwise unchanged squad. Josh Scowen is nearing a return but will probably not be risked on Saturday. There will be tired legs but it is still early in the season and the encouraging performances mean wholesale changes are unlikely. Gary Doherty remains the only long term absentee and will be out of action for around a further six weeks.
Stevenage go into Saturday`s match smarting from a last gasp equaliser conceded at Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday. The visitors had led through a Connor Calcutt opener after 54 minutes but Bira Dembele was adjudged to have handled in the penalty area deep into injury time and Deane Smalley earned the Pilgrims a share of the spoils at Home Park.
Manager Graham Westley began an extensive tirade after the game, claiming his team are unfavourably treated and bullied by officials.
Boro lie in 16th position with four points from their opening three matches. The opening day saw a Chris Whelpdale deput goal earn the hosts all three points against Hartlepool United. A week later, Southend United defeated Westley`s men 2-0 courtesy of goals from Myles Weston and Ben Coker. Sandwiched in between Stevenage were narrowly beaten by Watford at the Lamex Stadium thanks to a solitary Lloyd Dyer goal early in the second half.
It has been a summer of change under Graham Westley after Stevenage`s relegation from League One last season. Dean Wells was signed from Braintree Town for £25,000, Adam Marriott arrived from Cambridge City for an undisclosed fee, Sam Beasant signed from Woking, Andy Bond joined from Chester, and experienced centre half Harry Worley agreed to sign following his release from Newport County.
Possibly Westley`s most impressive capture was striker Calvin Zola from Aberdeen. Ronnie Henry (Luton Town), Chris Whelpdale (Gillingham) and Simon Walton (Hartlepool United) complete the incoming transfer activity.
The biggest blow of the summary for Stevenage was undoubtedly the loss of winger Luke Freeman to Bristol City for an undisclosed fee. Francois Zoko`s exit to Blackpool has seen another source of goals dry up. Elsewhere, Jimmy Smith (Crawley) and Lucas Akins (Burton Albion) also left for undisclosed fees and striker Jordan Burrow signed for Lincoln City.
Midfielder Peter Hartley joined Darren Sheridan at Plymouth Argyle, Luke Jones departed for Mansfield Town and striker Craig Reid left for Kidderminster Harriers. Ex-Wycombe goalkeeper Steve Arnold joined Forest Green Rovers along with Sam Wedgbury and James Dunne elected to join Portsmouth. Ex-Oxford midfielder Simon Heslop signed for Mansfield Town, striker Marcus Haber joined Crewe Alexandra and experienced winger Filipe Morais left for Bradford City.
Also released from the Lamex Stadium this summer were Matt Ball, Anthony Furlonge, Michael Thalassitis, Oumare Tounkara and Dani Lopez.
Broadhall Way has been a reasonably happy hunting ground for the Chairboys on their most recent visits. In 2010 goals from Kevin Betsy and Stuart Beavon sealed an impressive 2-0 win for Gary Waddock`s men, who went on to gain promotion along with Stevenage, who went up via the play-offs.
In our last encounter, a penalty deep into injury time from left back Grant Basey earned a 1-1 draw following a foul on loanee midfielder Craig Eastmond after a Michael Bostwick opener just five minutes earlier. It wasn`t enough to help stave off relegation however and Wanderers were relegated back to League Two after the penultimate game of the season.
Here are some early season stats...
Stevenage's season so far
Lg2: Hartlepool (H).......Won 1-0
LgCup: Watford (H).......Lost 0-1
Lg2: Southend (A).........Lost 0-2
Lg2: Plymouth (A)........Drew 1-1
Wycombe's season so far
Lg2: Newport (A)........Won 2-0
LgCup: Millwall (A)......Lost 0-1
Lg2: Carlisle (H).........Won 3-1
Lg2: Tranmere (H)......Lost 0-2
League positions & comparison with last season
Stevenage (4 points better off - 1 division lower)
After 3 games this season the Boro are 15th in Lg2 with 4 points
After 3 games last season they were 22nd in Lg1 with 0 points
Wycombe (3 points better off)
After 3 games this season the Chairboys are 7th with 6 points
After 3 games last season they were 18th with 3 points
Stevenage Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Wycombe Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)
Discipline - (All Competitions)
Stevenage.......0 Red Cards - 7 Yellow Cards
Wycombe........0 Red Cards - 3 Yellow Cards
Stevenage's League Record last season
Home - W:7 - D:5 - L:11 - GF:29 GA:34 - Pts:26
Away - W:4 - D:4 - L:15 - GF:17 GA:38 - Pts:16
Total - W:11 - D:9 - L:26 - GF:46 GA:72 - Pts:42
Final position: 24th in League One
Wycombe's League Record last season
Home - W:6 - D:6 - L:11 - GF:20 GA:27 - Pts:24
Away - W:6 - D:8 - L:9 - GF:26 GA:27 - Pts:26
Total - W:12 - D:14 - L:20 - GF:46 GA:54 - Pts:50
Final position: 22nd in League Two
Previous League Meetings
2010/11 Lg2: Stevenage 0 Wycombe 2
2010/11 Lg2: Wycombe 0 Stevenage 1
2011/12 Lg1: Wycombe 0 Stevenage 1
2011/12 Lg1: Stevenage 1 Wycombe 1
The Man In The Middle
Saturday`s referee is Kevin Wright from Cambridgeshire who was promoted to the National List of Referees in 2003. His last Wycombe game was a 2-0 win at Crewe in an FA Cup replay in November 2013. Last season he issued 6 red and 63 yellow cards in 23 games, and in the current campaign his tally is 0 red and 2 yellow cards in 1 game.
Stevenage 1 Wycombe 1