Preview: Wycombe v Accrington

Before I go any further, I have to send my best wishes to Billy Kee. One of Accrington’s star players in recent seasons is currently receiving treatment for depression, anxiety and bulimia. Billy has been very open about his experiences with mental health and is a great inspiration. I think I speak for us all when I say keep going, Billy. Let’s hope we see you back out on the pitch doing your thing very soon.

The Basics

As it stands: Wycombe 8-431 (3rd, 15 pts) | Accrington 7-124 (20th, 5 pts)

League form: Wycombe DWDWL | Accrington LLWDL

Last time out: Gillingham 2-0 Wycombe | Accrington 1-3 Sunderland

League head-to-head: P22 | Wycombe W5 | Accrington W8 | D9

Previous meeting: Wycombe 1-3 Accrington (12/03/19, League One)

Coming into the Game

Wycombe and Accrington both had disappointing Saturdays. While our defeat at Gillingham was our first in nine in the league, Stanley’s to Sunderland was their fourth of the season. Still, ten points and 17 places separate the sides after eight and seven games respectively (Stanley were due to play Bury on matchday two), giving a clear indication of the contrasting starts the two have made. It remains our best ever start to a third tier campaign and the visitors’ worst to a season since 2013. John Coleman’s team are without an away win in 2019/20; we’re looking to make it seven home wins on the spin.

Opposition Overview

Last season: 14th in League One

Manager: John Coleman (appointed Sep 2014 – second spell in charge)

Top league scorer in 2019/20: Colby Bishop (ST) – 3 highest rated player in 2019/20: Sam Finley (CM) – 7.22/10*

Most league minutes in 2019/20: Bishop, Dimitar Evtimov (GK), Jordan Clark (CM), Ross Sykes (CB), Finley – 630

Style of play: Possession-based, aggressive, look to hit the wingers

* Ratings are explained here

Three Talking Points: Wycombe

The need to bounce back | In a way, that loss at Gillingham was necessary. It keeps us grounded – not that Gareth Ainsworth would ever allow for any complacency anyway – and quite emphatically reminds that we’re by no means infallible. You also learn a lot more from a defeat than a win, of course. Still, we can rise again as suddenly as we fell by returning to winning ways in this one. Even with the injury carousel in full motion, we’re better equipped to cope with two games in four days than we’ve been in some time. Fatigue shouldn’t be too much of a factor, and hopefully there’s no hangover either. We’re still third in League One; here’s hoping we draw on that – and our perfect form at Adams Park – in pursuit of home victory number five out of five – and keep up our record of 3.0 GpG* on our patch.

Diamonds aren’t forever | It’s fair to say the switch from 4-3-3 to 4-1-2-1-2 made like Del Boy’s van struggling on a crawling M25 and backfired down in Kent. Even with Accrington opting for a 4-1-3-2 last time out, it’s hard to see Ainsworth diverging from the tried and trusted 4-3-3 which has started every home game so far – and finished all of them bar that Southend game. Whether we’re too cautious – or even negative – away from home is something I’ll address separately pre-Rochdale, but there’s no reason for us to have anything but the utmost confidence in what we do this time out. Revert to type and have the lads entertain us please, gaffer.

Accrington the bogey team | They certainly still are at Adams Park anyway. Our last (and only) home triumph over Stanley came way back in January 2009. Matt Harrold scored the decisive goal in a 2-1 win for an ultimately promoted Blues side also containing the likes of Craig Woodman, Tommy Doherty and Matt Phillips. Since then, we’ve lost five – including three of the last four – and drawn two in this fixture. And frankly, if it goes as badly as last time – when we turned in arguably our worst performance of 2018/19 – then we deserve to keep that awful run going. That night, we got it horribly wrong; this time, there’s cause for optimism, especially after how well we combatted a not dissimilar – and stronger – Lincoln side.

*Goals per game

Three Talking Points: Accrington

In search of a first away win of the season | So far, Stanley have played four on the road, drawing two (1-1 at Wimbledon and 3-3 at Bristol Rovers) and losing two (2-0 at Lincoln and Fleetwood). Scoring on their travels isn’t a problem, it would seem, but conceding is (in fact, it is general, as you’ll see below). Still, there can be few happier hunting grounds on which for them to try and put things right. Only once have they failed to score at Adams Park. They average 1.63 GpG in South Bucks, a figure boosted in no small part by 3-1 and 4-0 scorelines in each of the last two years.

A porous back line | In the bottom half, only Southend and Bolton have conceded more goals than Stanley’s 15. That works out at a rate of 2.14 GApG* – which, to put it into some context, is a higher average than any of last season’s relegated teams. Seven games is nothing in the grand scheme of things, but they’ll need to set about sorting that out sooner rather than later. While their defence went through its fair share of changes throughout 2018/19, right-back Callum Johnson and centre-halves Mark Hughes and Ross Sykes were all at the club and played significant parts. They’ve all started every game this time around, so even though the left-back spot has seen three different occupants already, there shouldn’t be too many issues with regards to the unit being settled. Instead, a combination of individual errors and miscommunication in key moments seems most damaging.

“As a team we just don’t defend properly” – John Coleman after the Sunderland loss

Disciplinary problems | There have been 14 red cards dished out in League One so far. Three of them have been flashed at Accrington players. Left-back Zaine Franics-Angol was made to walk for a second yellow at Wimbledon – his debut after joining from National League Fylde – and important defensive midfielder Seamus Conneely likewise at Bristol Rovers. Playmaker Sean McConville, on the other hand, was shown a straight red for slapping Fleetwood’s Ched Evans in the face.

Stanley only received four reds in League One all of last season, so they’re well on their way to outdoing themselves in that respect. Their nine bookings so far may be among the fewest in the league (for what it’s worth, Oxford lead the way with a whopping 22), but these isolated incidents will hardly have been welcomed. That said, Accrington have equalised twice after going down to ten men and didn’t concede on the other occasion. It’s a funny old game and all that.

*Goals against per game

Possible Line-ups

WYCOMBE | Darius Charles is due a rest, you feel, so Giles Phillips could come in – or Sido, although a potentially feisty encounter probably isn’t ideal for someone who’s not seen competitive action in over four months. Nick Freeman could be rotated for Matt Bloomfield, who wasn’t ruled out of Saturday’s game until late on from the sound of things – he’s a trooper alright – and whose tenacity ought to help disrupt ball-hogging Accrington. Fred Onyedinma took part in the warm-up at Gillingham and is on the verge of a return, which could come from the start considering his short lay-off. Scott Kashket and Alex Samuel both picked up injuries of some description at the weekend, while it seems unlikely we’ll see Adebayo Akinfenwa start twice in four days, so Josh Parker and David Wheeler may well get the nod.

lineup (32)

ACCRINGTON | Coleman could continue with the 4-1-3-2 formation which he’s employed in the last two games. Fulham loanee Jerome Opoku replaced the injured Francis-Angol to make his first start against Sunderland and caught the eye, so he could well keep his place regardless of the latter’s fitness. In the holding midfield role, Lamine Sheriff may make way for Conneely, back from suspension, but it could otherwise be the same 11 which started on Saturday. Currently the main creative outlet, Jordan Clark opened the scoring in that one and also netted against Bristol Rovers – as did Sam Finley and, from the spot, Dion Charles. Charles and Colby Bishop are well worth keeping an eye on, both having settled in nicely after making the big step up from sixth tier Southport and Leamington respectively.

lineup (35)

In the Middle: Brett Huxtable

If you were at Solihull Moors in 2017, you know. Huxtable’s ninth appointment of the season is his second Wycombe game since that FA Cup first round tie, the other being last October’s 3-0 home win over Rochdale – our biggest victory of 2018/19. He’s shown 22 yellow cards so far in 2019/20.

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