Wycombe is a tough test

Wycombe were equal top of the league after beating Plymouth 3-0 at Home Park in late November but a month later their 0-1 defeat at Ipswich on Wednesday saw them drop to sixth place. However, this should not be taken as indicating that they are in poor form. In fact the loss ended an unbeaten run of six games during which they beat Bolton and Burton as well as Plymouth and drew with Wimbledon and Sheffield Wednesday.

It is the good form of Sunderland, Wigan and Oxford plus the postponement of two games over the holiday period that has caused their loss in status. In the words of BBC journalist James Law in his "half-term report" they are a "well-oiled League One winning machine":

"So often we see sides suffer from a hangover after relegation, but Gareth Ainsworth's Wycombe were never going to allow that to happen. Team spirit has remained excellent, the squad has stayed settled and the Chairboys look a well-oiled League One winning machine. They have no single talisman, with experienced pair Sam Vokes and Garath McCleary their top scorers with six goals apiece, but are both ruthless at home and notoriously difficult to play against on their travels. In 2019-20, Wycombe reaching the Championship was arguably one of the biggest underdog stories in English football - but make no mistake, they're one of the frontrunners this time as they look to repeat that feat."

Their form away from home is impressive. Before Ipswich, their only defeats were at Sunderland and Milton Keynes and they have forced draws at Oxford, Wigan, Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday.

Saturday's match might be the last chance to see the phenomenal Adebayo Akinfenwa in action. "The Beast" (reputedly the strongest footballer in the world) will be forty in May and is now approaching 700 appearances. The start of his career was made up of countless short stays but he has become a tad more staid as he approaches middle age. Northampton was his tenth club in nine years when he joined them in 2008. He was then to have two spells with Gillingham sandwiched by a further season at Northampton before joining Wycombe in 2016. His five subsequent years with the Chairboys have produced 50 goals, although he is now generally only used as a late substitute - as he was in our disappointing 1-2 defeat at Adams Park in September.

It is likely that Brandon Hanlan will start up front alongside Sam Vokes. Since being released by Charlton he has established himself as a solid League One player with two seasons at Gillingham and one at Bristol Rovers before joining Wycombe in August.

Incidentally, the BBC half-term report on Charlton concluded with:

"But the seeds have clearly been sown for a more successful second half of the season. The Addicks step into Christmas still 10 points adrift of sixth place, but they are back on an upward curve again, and smiles are back on faces at The Valley."

Johnnie Jackson shares that positivity - "It's full steam ahead for Saturday" -  although he is a bit cagey about who will be available for selection:

“We’re certainly back to a position where we can fulfil the fixture - that's certain. We’ll have some lads back and available, others who might be a little bit touch and go; like I said before with their return to training and return to play protocols that might mean that a few miss out.”

Backed by a large crowd the Charlton team have produced stirring performances in their last three home games. Saturday's attendance (despite the last minute offer of more free tickets) is likely to be quite modest and it is to be hoped that this doesn't adversely affect team morale. A draw would not be a bad result but, if we are to maintain any real interest in a play-off place, we really need all three points to make inroads into the ten point lead that Wycombe currently hold over us.

If you are planning on attending the game you will need to prove your Covid status before being admitted. Full details here: