ITEN Match Preview: Wycombe (A)
After progressing in the FA Cup in midweek, Rovers get back on the road for League One action, and it doesn’t get any tougher than a meeting with the league leaders.
Wycombe Wanderers are the early-season surprise package in the division, storming clear at the top despite being relegation favourites in the summer. Gareth Ainsworth has done a terrific job at the Chairboys and ending their ten-game unbeaten run will be a tough task for Darren Moore and his charges.
Too Soon For John, But Could Bingham Start?
Rovers saw off Wimbledon with a spirited second half performance on Tuesday night, with James Coppinger opening the scoring before Rakish Bingham sealed the victory with a goal off the bench. Whilst Kwame Thomas has put himself ably in the continued absence of Niall Ennis, he hasn’t found the back of the net outside of his brace at Southend. Moore stated he would have no hesitation putting Bingham in after his goal-scoring cameo and Saturday could be the perfect time to hand the forward his full debut.
The game at Wycombe will be a week too soon for defender Cameron John though, despite the Wolves loanee returning to the squad this week. Having recovered from an ankle injury that left him sidelined for the past two months, John will be eased back in with a likely appearance in an U23s game next week before returning to the first team. Joe Wright has stepped in for the two FA Cup matches in the past two weeks and should have done enough to earn a first league start of the campaign at Adams Park.
Will Cup Loss Take A Toll?
Wycombe are on a great run in League One and went top last Sunday with a win away at Tranmere but went out of the FA Cup to the same opponents on Wednesday night. The game went to Extra Time before Kieron Morris struck late in the additional period to send the Whites through, and with less than 72 hours to turn themselves round, fatigue may play a part in this one.
Two of the regular back four were rested for that game, with veterans Joe Jacobson and Darius Charles saved for the Rovers clash but changes elsewhere in the side seem unlikely. Former Rovers striker Adebayo Akinfenwa scored last weekend and is the side’s top league scorer at the age of 37 but played 75 minutes in the cup defeat and so Alex Samuel, another physical striker, may start in his place.
Winger Fred Onyedinma remains sidelined whilst Rolando Aarons has also missed the past two games, so David Wheeler is likely to start opposite Scott Kashket, with Paul Smyth back to full fitness and pushing to start as well.
These two teams have only faced each other seven times ever, beginning in 1993 after Martin O’Neill had taken Wycombe into the Football League for the first time. Rovers have won only once, and never at Adams Park, triumphing 3-0 at home last season to give Grant McCann his first home win in charge. Only four of the side that won that game remain with the club today however, so it will be a very different proposition this time round.
Those differences should make it easier to forget the horror show of the January meeting at Wycombe at least, as Rovers threw away a 2-0 lead in the last quarter of an hour to lose 3-2. The introduction of Akinfenwa completely turned the game on its head for Gareth Ainsworth’s side, the big striker bullying Andy Butler out of the way to aid a remarkable turnaround. Hopefully history won’t repeat itself this weekend!