Transfer deadline day, as meaningless as it is for clubs at our level, has been and past. In comes Frank Nouble and Seb Hines on loan from Ipswich and Middlesbrough respectively and out goes Carl Baker (for more on our former captain read here). Our two new signings add a degree of depth to our squad and should provide additional quality, both Nouble and Hines are not without some serious question marks over their consistency but we are still not in a particular position of strength to bring in players without doubts hanging over them.
Anyway, we have a game this evening in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Last year we failed at the first hurdle after a defeat on penalties to Leyton Orient on what was our 12th meeting with that team last season. This year we have a chance to set recent failures in this competition straight with a tie against League Two Wycombe Wanderers.
Expect Steven Pressley to make several changes to the team which drew on Saturday at Swindon. The decision seems to be motivated by the need to keep legs fresh ahead of Friday evening’s homecoming party and to allow several young and fringe players to stake their claim for a regular spot.
Notably Monday afternoon’s under-21 game against Brentford saw Lee Burge, Jack Finch, Mohamed Coulibaly and James Maddison all left out of the squad, so expect them to be involved this evening. You would imagine that Lee Burge and Mohamed Coulibaly could with a strong display potentially earn a spot against Gillingham on Friday. We may also see Danny Pugh restored to the starting line-up but any further changes will be dictated by the Football League’s rules which mean that Pressley can make no more than five changes to the team.
Possible Line-Up: (5-3-2) Burge; Phillips, Willis, Webster, Finch, Haynes; Coulibaly, Fleck, C Thomas; Maddison, McQuoid
Last Time We Met
With Wycombe Wanderers a non-league side for much of their history and us a occupying the top three tiers of English football for ours, we have only played tonight’s opponents twice. Both occasions were in the 1993/94 edition of the League Cup when all ties were played over two legs, with the Sky Blues eventually advancing 5-4 on aggregate after extra-time in the second leg.
How Are They Doing?
Wycombe only avoided relegation to the Conference last year on the final day. Despite occupying the second relegation spot in League Two at the start of the day, a win over already relegated Torquay and Bristol Rovers’ strange defeat to a Mansfield side with nothing to play for, saw Gareth Ainsworth’s team survive by the skin of their teeth.
The former QPR winger has wasted little time since then in rebuilding his squad for this season. The Chairboys have made a number of intriguing signings including bringing back strong centre-back Aaron Pierre from Brentford on a permanent deal as well as renewing a loan for Daniel Rowe from Rotherham who is a versatile defender/midfielder. Ainsworth also brought back target-man Paul Hayes to the club as well as signing another defender/midfielder Peter Murphy from Accrington despite reported interest from League One clubs.
Wycombe’s plight from League One/Two yo-yo club to one that barely survived a scrap with relegation to non-league has largely been down to the financial impact of a fans’ takeover of the club. One of the major decisions made by the fans board was to close down the academy, it is ironic then that many of Wycombe’s most important players currently were the last batch of academy graduates. Striker Matt McClure is a natural goalscorer when fit and goalkeeper Matt Ingram is a wonderful shot-stopper. Additionally midfielders Josh Scowen and Max Kretzschmar have shown glimpses of genuine quality over the past year.
The result of Gareth Ainsworth’s transfer business and continued utilisation of the final dregs of Wycombe’s old youth-system has been a strong start in the league. They currently occupy 5th position in League Two with Saturday’s draw with York City displaying a new found solidity compared to last season’s alarming slide down the division over winter.
Possible Line-Up: (4-4-2) Ingram; Jombati, Mawson, Pierre, Jacobson; Cowan-Hall, Murphy, Rowe, Wood; Hayes, Craig.
As ever with the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy it is hard to predict results early on due to the fact that each manager will lend a different level of importance to the competition. It seems like that whilst Steven Pressley is aware of the feel-good factor that a run in the competition could spark, he is looking to use it as a chance to hand all-important game-time to a number of players in need of first-team experience. As such, I think we can expect at best a low-scoring affair tonight unless a couple of our fringe players can take the opportunity to really stake a claim for a first-team place.
My prediction for this game is that it will be a 1-0 win for the Sky Blues.