Preview: Wycombe Wanderers v Southend United

Its been 1224 days since Southend and Wycombe last met, in that dramatic play-off final at Wembley which saw the Shrimpers promoted after a penalty shoot-out.

Tomorrow, they meet again after Wanderers finally got over the promotion line and into League One last season. This game naturally has a lot less on the line but still is quite important given the two clubs’ respective positions in the lower reaches of the division. Wanderers were finally knocked out of the Carabao Cup in midweek after a pulsating encounter with Norwich. The Canaries went into a 4-1 lead with Jordan Rhodes bolstering his tally of goals in South Bucks to eight in his last two games.

A late resurgence from the Chairboys wasn’t enough to take it to penalties though, so they can now concentrate on a few vital league games in the next couple of weeks as they look to convert their multitude of draws so far into a few wins. Southend, meanwhile, have found it hard to kick on after finishing just outside the play-offs in their first season back in the third tier. Chris Powell has masterminded three league wins for his side so far this campaign, the most recent being a 1-0 success over Joey Barton’s Fleetwood.

Team news

A 352/532 formation was employed by Gareth Ainsworth on Tuesday, which yielded three goals for Wanderers against an in-form Championship side, but left holes at the back. Darius Charles’ first below-par performance for his new team may see him dropped but there are still doubts over the fitness of Anthony Stewart and Adam El-Abd. Adebayo Akinfenwa got his first goal since March in midweek, so could be in line for another start against Southend. Fred Onyedinma may return to the starting eleven after being cup-tied against the Canaries, while Paris Cowan-Hall, Scott Kashket, Randell Williams and Craig Mackail-Smith are also in contention to take one of the very competitive forward spots at Adams Park with so many high-quality front men at Ainsworth’s disposal.

Mark Oxley and Michel Kightly are set to return from their suspensions, so it looks like it won’t be necessary for Powell to renew David Stockdale’s emergency loan once again. The Roots Hall outfit also have former 30-time Republic of Ireland international Simon Cox and former Premier League player Michael Turner in their ranks. Sam Barratt may be a familiar name to Wanderers fans after he was signed from nearby Maidenhead, but a long-term injury has put pay to his hopes of making an immediate impact in Essex.

Predicted eleven

GK: Ryan Allsop

LB: Joe Jacobson

CB: Jason McCarthy

CB: Sido Jombati

RB: Michael Harriman

CM: Dom Gape

CM: Matt Bloomfield

CM: Bryn Morris

LW: Randell Williams

CF: Adebayo Akinfenwa

RW: Paris Cowan-Hall

Previous meetings

The thirteen games between Wycombe and Southend since 2004 have seen four wins for the Chairboys, four for the Shrimpers, and five draws. Before the play-off final in the 2014-15 season, there were two high-scoring encounters in the regular campaign. A late equaliser from Alfie Mawson gave Wanderers a 2-2 draw at Roots Hall, and a brace from Matt McClure helped them to a 4-1 success at Adams Park. Gareth Ainsworth will be hoping for a repeat of those performances and not  repeat of the agonising loss at Wembley as his team go in search of their first home league win of the season.

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