Back to league action – and on to a different set of Rovers! Donny are town this Saturday, so I caught up with Into The Empty Net‘s Adam Stubbings to get the lowdown ahead of yet another big game at Adams Park.
After 14 games, you’re slap bang in mid-table – but pick up a couple of wins and you could move up into the play-offs. All things considered, how do you assess your season so far? I think our league position is a bit of a falsehood to be honest. We have lost three games to postponements already and if we had played and won just two of those, we’d be third. We’ve proven hard to beat, create plenty of chances and yet we are still a few players short of where we feel we should be.
Darren Moore has implemented his managerial style quickly and effectively, everyone around the club is right behind him and I feel we are more than capable of mounting a promotion challenge this season.
The summer departures of Grant McCann and John Marquis were obviously big, but you seem to have recovered well. How did that alter your outlook for the season and have fans’ expectations changed since? Expectations definitely dipped a bit after the summer departures. We have had to build almost from scratch. Darren Moore has done a solid job, but we haven’t got much experience at all and we haven’t replaced Marquis yet. I think fans have been pleasantly surprised by how well the team has gelled and in many ways we have actually improved on the pitch from last season.
The manner of McCann’s departure left a bad taste, so we have ended up grateful he’s gone despite how well he did for us. Moore is a cult hero at the club and so we couldn’t have asked for anyone better as a new manager.
In general, who have been the standout players for you and why? Ben Whiteman for sure. He was made captain after we turned down a bid from McCann and Hull in August, he has stepped into the role brilliantly and runs the play. He is developing into a top class central midfielder and when he is on-song we are hard to live with.
Kieran Sadlier is our top scorer, largely from the left wing, and has taken on more responsibility really well. Special mention for James Coppinger too; he may be nearly 40 but still has the skill and vision to turn defences inside out.
How would you sum up your style of play and might you make any big changes to deal with us? We play quick, possession football from the back, looking to spread the play from midfielders Whiteman and Ben Sheaf to give our wide players space to create. We haven’t got a focal point up front now Marquis has left, so it’s quite a fluid front-line ordinarily, and we’re creating chances for fun in pretty much every game.
I think we’ll stick to our usual style. However, I hope the tape from last season’s game at Adams Park has been studied because the introduction of Bayo Akinfenwa ruined us. We couldn’t handle his physicality and a 2-0 lead turned into a 3-2 defeat somehow.
Last of all, how do you see the game going? Score prediction welcome! I think Wycombe are going to pose a very tough test for us; you’re not top of the table for nothing. We haven’t had many games lately so might be a little rusty and so it wouldn’t surprise me if we went behind early. If that happens, I trust that we can bounce back as we have several times already this season, but I’m not expecting an easy afternoon.
If we can get Sadlier, Coppinger and Jon Taylor running at your defence and causing problems with enough regularity then we could score a few. But I anticipate a tight game that could swing on one or two big moments.