Friday, April 18th 2014
Two teams locked together on 46 points. Two sets of supporters on the edge of their seats. Two league places hanging in the balance. For any winner of this dual at Adams Park there is the promise of a three point gap between them and league safety. For a loser, it’s back to square one with just three games following this one to make amends and to drag themselves out of trouble.
Wycombe Wanderers have been a proud member of the Football League since 1993 when Martin O’Neill inspired them to a Conference and FA Trophy double. As they began their rise to prominence, the Cobblers could easily have gone the other way had the miracle at Gay Meadow not occurred on May 8th of the same year. As it was, Pat Gavin’s backside intervened and we were safe against all the odds and while this game twenty one years on isn’t quite a match in terms of importance for that one, it’s still a monumentally crucial one.
As soon as last weekend’s results – Wycombe losing at Newport and the Cobblers holding their nerve against Burton – were confirmed, all eyes turned to this one as Town closed the gap to just goal difference between themselves and safety (i.e. Wanderers themselves). With 2,000 Cobblers fans likely to be pouring into the away end it’s set to be an incredible atmosphere with nerves at absolute fever pitch.
This has all the potential to be one of those away games we lock away in our memory banks for years and years…let’s just hope it’s for all the right reasons!
Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth hopes to have both Matt Bloomfield and Max Kretzschmar available to face the Cobblers after their recent injury blows. Bloomfield missed the Newport County defeat last weekend with a hamstring problem while Kretzschmar limped off in that game with a dead leg. Paris Cowan-Hall (ankle) and Anthony Stewart (hamstring) have trained this week but the game may come too early for them both. Jon-Paul Pittman will also miss out after pulling his quad in last weekend’s warm up and Gary Doherty remains out with an arm injury.
The Cobblers have Mathias Doumbe and Zander Diamond back in the squad for the trip to Adams Park…Doumbe has recovered from the injury that kept him out of last week’s win against Burton while Diamond was ineligible for that game. Darren Carter is missing again as he serves the second of a two game suspension but Kelvin Langmead may be given more game time from the bench after seeing some action for the first time in eleven months against the Brewers.
Previous Six Meetings…
21/12/13: Cobblers 1-4 Wycombe (League Two)
Earlier this season, Aidy Boothroyd paid the ultimate price for some poor form and a hammering at home by Wycombe as he lost his job as Town boss following a 4-1 reverse. Jo Kuffour set the tone for the afternoon by scoring after just thirteen seconds to put the Chairboys in front before Kortney Hause made it 2-0 on fifteen minutes. Izale McLeod tapped in to halve the deficit but Wanderers sealed the win late on with goals from Stuart Lewis and Dean Morgan. News of Boothroyd’s sacking came through just an hour after kick off.
16/04/13: Wycombe 0-0 Cobblers (League Two)
A rearranged game because of a waterlogged pitch in the originally planned game ended in a goalless draw that effectively put the Cobblers out of last season’s race for the top three.
17/11/12: Cobblers 3-1 Wycombe (League Two)
Earlier that season the Cobblers got the better of Wanderers with a good home win thanks to Bayo Akinfenwa’s double, one a penalty, and Chris Hackett’s second half strike. Joel Grant’s spot kick looked to set up a nervy conclusion but Town held out for an important three points.
16/04/11: Wycombe 2-2 Cobblers (League Two)
An entertaining encounter at Adams Park saw Shaun Harrad give Town the lead from the penalty spot on twenty minutes before Guillem Bauza doubled the advantage. But second half goals from Scott Donnelly and Leon Johnson earned Wycombe a point en route to their eventual promotion.
28/08/11: Cobblers 1-1 Wycombe (League Two)
Andy Sandell looked like he had claimed all three points for Wanderers after netting in the first half but the Cobblers won a late penalty which was converted by Kevin Thornton to give us a share of the spoils.
01/09/09: Wycombe 2-2 Cobblers – After extra time, Cobblers win 3-0 on pens (JPT First Round)
A back and forth JPT First Round tie saw Ryan Gilligan hand Town the lead from the spot before John-Paul Pittman levelled via the same method. Steve Guinan thought he had won it when he scored four minutes from time but Pittman equalised again in stoppage time. After a goalless period of extra time, though, Wycombe contrived to miss all of their penalties in the shoot-out. The Cobblers scored all three of their kicks and headed through to Round Two.
The man in the middle…
Taking charge at Adams Park is Andy D’Urso – a name familiar to most supporters in the game but not always for the right reasons! He last officiated a Cobblers game in our 2-0 win at AFC Wimbledon back in October. Earlier in the season he had been the referee for Wycombe’s 2-2 draw at Oxford, during which he sent off the Chairboys’ Charles Dunne.
The Cobblers have a good history of turning up for the big away games and with a large backing from the away support the battle could be just as intense off the pitch as it is on it. Something tells me that we’ll still be biting plenty of finger nails after this one though….I’m going for a high scoring draw to keep us both on edge. 2-2.