After guiding his side away from the relegation zone in 2012/13, can the Chairboys go for promotion this term?
Our penultimate preview focuses on Wycombe Wanderers. Can Gareth Ainsworth lead his side to familiar territory in 2013/14? To find out when we play the Chairboys, visit the official site tomorrow, for the release of the League 2 fixtures.
After relegation from League 1 in 2003/04, Wycombe consolidated in the fourth tier of English football for the next four years, finishing 10th, 6th, 12th and 7th, before winning promotion back to League 1 in 2009/10, finishing in the final automatic promotion place. Unfortunately for Wycombe supporters, the club made an instant return to League 2 after only a season, losing 21 games. There was more highs the season after, however, Wycombe once more finishing third before yet another relegation in 2011/12, the Chirboys struggling to consolidate in the third tier. The club have been in League 2 ever since.
Wycombe’s manager, Gareth Ainsworth, only took over in September 2012 following Gary Waddock’s sacking. Ainsworth led Wycombe away from the drop zone, finishing mid-table and signed a new two-year contract with the club in April 2013. As a player, Blackburn-born Ainsworth played for the likes of Preston North End, Lincoln City, Port Vale and QPR, where he made over 150 appearances. He ended his playing days at Wycombe in 2013, where after three years and over 100 appearances for the club, the 40-year-old retired.
Youngster, Matt Ingram is the only recognisable goalkeeper in the Chairboys squad. The 19-year-old has made just eight appearances since 2010 and Gareth Ainsworth may be looking for a more experienced shot-stopper, despite having 41-year-old Lee Harrison as backup in a player/coach role. Experienced former Blues man, Leon Johnson, who made over 50 appearances between his Roots Hall Stay in 1998 to 2000 is likely to line up at the heart of defence. The 32-year-old signed for Wycombe from Gillingham in 2007 and could be partnered by Charles Dunne or Anthony Steward, although Gary Doherty is also an option. Danny Foster should play at right back. Midfield will see veteran Matt Spring in the centre. The former Leyton Orient and Luton Town player joined the club last summer and could be joined by Stuart Lewis, Matt Bloomfield and ex-Brentford player, Sam Wood. Up front, the much-travelled duo of Jo Kuffour and Dean Morgan, could be tough to handle for League 2 defences in 2013/14.
Former Jamaica under-20 winger, Joel Grant is sure to cause problems this coming season. The 25-year-old former Crewe Alexandra and Aldershot Town man scored 11 times in all competitions last season, playing over 40 times for the Chairboys. With plenty of pace and tricks, Grant is certainly one to look out for in 2013/14.
After a disappointing start to 2012/13 under Gary Waddock, the former Aldershot Town manager was sacked, with Gareth Ainsworth taking over. Ainsworth successfully led Wanderers away from the drop, finishing on 60 points, in 15th place in the table.
Incoming to Adams Park is former Reading right back, Nick Arnold. The 22-year-old came throough the Royals academy but failed to make an appearance for the Berkshire side. Goalkeeper, Charlie Horlock, has joined from Stevenage. Leaving the Chairboys are Dennis Oli, left back, Grant Basey, Olly Taylor, and captain, Dave Winfield, who joined Shrewsbury Town recently.
BLUES vs. WYCOMBE WANDERERS:
A solitary goal from Britt Assombalonga won the game for Blues back in September. The Watford loanee headed in after a clearance off the line by Matt Spring.
Blues: Belford, Clohessy, Cresswell, Phillips, Prosser, Timlin, Hurst (Straker, 28), Leonard (Harris, 89), Spicer, Assombalonga, Tomlin
Unused: Smith, Barker, Woodyard, Benyon, Njie
Britt Assombalonga scored the winner five minutes from as Blues picked up the three points at Adams Park. Dean Morgan gave the hosts an early lead before Barry Corr tapped home just after the interval.
Blues: Smith, Clohessy, Spillane, Cresswell, Prosser, Leonard (Lund, 77), Barker (Straker, 38), Mayor (Reeves, 78), Hurst, Corr, Assombalonga
Unused: Bentley, Woodyard, Eastwood, Harris
Wycombe Wanderers are 5/1 to win promotion this coming season.