There is no team in the entire EFL against which Charlton has a better record than Wycombe Wanderers.
Yes, of course there was that infamous League Cup 5th round tie in December 2006 when a Premier League Charlton team including Darren Bent and Dennis Rommedahl was humbled at The Valley by League Two Wycombe. Almost 19,000 were present to see Jermaine Easter score the goal which would deny us a semi-final place.
But in League games we have a perfect record. Played six times and won six times. We've never lost to Crewe (won six, drawn one) or Yeovil (won six, drawn two) but it is only Wycombe that we have beaten every time we've faced them. So we should surely be going up to Adams Park on Saturday full of confidence.
Well, no actually.
The result and performance against Crewe coupled with the uplift from by the late window signings of Arter, Leko and Souaré had given everyone a boost and a belief that a corner had been turned. The dire disarray of the Cheltenham game (particularly the first half) completely punctured that. Our team was a shapeless group of individuals outmanoeuvred by a competent unit of visiting players who were simply more comfortable in their respective roles.
So is there any hope of maintaining our 100% record against Wycombe when, for the first time ever, we play a fixture against them from a lower position in the league ?
They have played two home games this season and have won them both (2-1 v Accrington and 1-0 v Lincoln). Away from home they beat Cheltenham 3-1 and drew with Wigan (1-1) and Oxford (0-0). Their only defeat was at Sunderland (1-3). They sit in ninth position with a game in hand on some of their rivals and comparison with our results against Cheltenham, Wigan and Oxford suggests that they are much stronger than we are. Under Gareth Ainsworth they have gained a reputation for resilience and over achievement. Last February they were twelve points adrift of safety in The Championship and yet, with six wins in their last eleven games, they almost created an opportunity for a final day escape.
Astonishingly, 39 year old Adebayo "The Beast" Akinfenwa is still featuring up front, albeit not for ninety minutes. Brandon Hanlon has joined from Bristol Rovers and started in their last game at Oxford. He was partnered by Sam Vokes who, although well past his Burnley best, is a formidable opponent at League One level. He failed to score for Stoke last season in thirty appearances but has notched two already for Wycombe and is heading towards 100 career league goals. We may also see Sullay Kaikai in midfield.
We travel in hope that Nigel Adkins will get his selections and formation right for this game and that a week on the training ground will have allowed a better integration of our new signings. Is it possible that Souaré could be fit enough to allow us to kick off with a left footed left back at last ? Might Harry Arter be able to play some part? Will Jonathan Leko start after his promising cameo last week ? When we look at the players Adkins now has at his disposal it surely isn't too much to hope that we can get something out of this game.
He confirmed in this week's press conference that Ryan Innis (thigh) and Ronnie Schwartz (calf) will be out injured for two months. Asked if Jonathan Leko, Pape Souaré and Harry Arter are in contention for the upcoming two games, he said: “Everybody is in contention. Moving forward we’ve got a large group of players who all want to be involved and all want to play and we’ve got a good energy about ourselves going into this game.”
Don't forget that last season Oxford were in twentieth place after six games but subsequently made the play-offs. Hope springs eternal...........
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