One week to go! The countdown is well and truly on. Let’s run through the most significant of the previous nine times we’ve gone head to head with our play-off opponents.
Fleetwood 2-0 Wycombe (12/11/11, FA Cup First Round)
Three players from this first ever meeting went on to play in the Premier League. One even won it – and, unfortunately for Gary Waddock’s Chairboys, he rather stole the show on the day. He is, of course, Jamie Vardy, whose cool-as-you-like 80th minute finish sealed an upset for Fleetwood, then two divisions below us in the Conference. The others? Fifteen-year-old Jordon Ibe – who would only make two more appearances before leaving for Liverpool – and Kadeem Harris – who himself only made another seven, joining Cardiff late in the January window. To add to Wycombe’s ignominy, the hosts played the entire second half with ten men after Richard Brodie saw red for an elbow on Leon Johnson.
Fleetwood 0-1 Wycombe (13/10/12, League Two)
Eleven months later, the first league meeting took place, the Cod Army having broken the 100-point barrier en route to the Conference title – their fifth promotion in eight seasons as they bankrolled their way into the Football League. Nineteen-year-old Bruno Andrade’s ninth minute strike on his Wycombe league debut proved enough in the end. The result was also notable as the first away win as gaffer for Gareth Ainsworth – then not even three weeks into this ever more indescribable journey on which he’s taken – well, continues to take – us.
Wycombe 1-0 Fleetwood (02/03/13, League Two)
Onto the Lancastrians’ first visit to South Bucks, then – and things panned out a little more dramatically this time. Anthony Stewart – in his first campaign as a regular – headed in Josh Scowen’s corner at the death as the Blues bounced back from two home defeats on the trot. “Hopefully we can kick on higher and see where we get to,” said Ainsworth post-match. As it was, we only won three of our final 11 games and wound up in 15th, precisely midway the play-offs and relegation zone on points – one of our few truly mid-table finishes this century.
Fleetwood 1-1 Wycombe (02/10/18, League One)
A first meeting in four-and-a-half years pitted play-off hopefuls against third tier newcomers on, like so many runnings of this fixture, a less than balmy Tuesday night. The right royal pain in the arse that is Paddy Madden broke the deadlock not long before half-time with his first of three trademark goals in our last four encounters, but an Adebayo Akinfenwa special just shy of the hour mark ensured we made the long journey back south with another crucial point towards the ultimate aim of survival in the bag.
Wycombe 1-0 Fleetwood (04/05/19, League One)
It would have taken a mathematical atom bomb to send us down on the (unecessarily chilly) final day of 2018/19, but the obligatory chants of “We are staying up!” didn’t carry maximum weight until Joe Jacobson curled in direct-from-a-corner special number two of four for the calendar year. The game on the whole was about as far from a classic as you could get – the ‘on the beach already’ vibe was strong – but after a later winter/early spring scare, it was mission accomplished for Wycombe: survival in the third tier for the first time since 2004. No one could have predicted the circumstances in which the two teams would face off at the climax of the following season…
Header image by Dan Clark