If Wycombe Wanderers are to continue their upward momentum in League One, they will need to start producing their excellent home performances on the road, starting with a trip to Walsall this weekend.
The Chairboys have yet to win away since they beat Bradford in August, but encouraging points at the likes of Portsmouth and Fleetwood have also been picked up recently. Their last road trip saw them fall to a narrow defeat at Coventry in a disappointing performance.
There is a new-found optimism around Saturday’s opponents, Walsall, after they got rid of unpopular manager Jon Whitney last season and replaced him with fans’ favourite and former player Dean Keates. A promising start to the campaign saw the Saddlers go their first seven games unbeaten, putting them in the play-offs. However, four defeats in their last seven including a couple of heavy ones have seen them fall to mid-table, just a couple of places above Wanderers.
A recent change in system for the Chairboys has coincided with back-to-back wins. The new 442 wide formation should be in use again at The Bescot Stadium, although manager Gareth Ainsworth may have a different view on things with it being an away game. Alex Samuel impressed on his first EFL start for Wycombe against Rochdale, but Craig Mackail-Smith should come back into the side after being rested for that 3-0 midweek success.
Two goals in two games for Fred Onyedinma have seen him included in two EFL team of the matchday selections, while Randell Williams could be in line for a return to the starting eleven. A swerving Bryn Morris free-kick got his second goal for the club on Tuesday, which has given Ainsworth a selection headache in midfield with Morris, Dom Gape and Curtis Thompson all in form.
The defence will probably remain the same, but there is still the issue of playing Jason McCarthy at centre-back with his best position undoubtedly on the right of a four. Darius Charles, Matt Bloomfield, Nathan Tyson and Anthony Stewart are all doubts.
There have been recent concerns over Walsall’s defending of set pieces, of which Keates said they needed to ‘take more responsibility’. With just one goal in their last five games, it’s clear what the Saddlers’ problem has been of late, so Andy Cook and Morgan Ferrier will be two of the players hoping to chance that statistic on Saturday. They also recently added former Chairboy Russell Martin to their ranks.
GK: Ryan Allsop
LB: Joe Jacobson
CB: Adam El-Abd
CB: Jason McCarthy
RB: Michael Harriman
LM: Fred Onyedinma
CM: Dom Gape
CM: Curtis Thompson
RM: Randell Williams
ST: Adebayo Akinfenwa
ST: Craig Mackail-Smith
Walsall have had the edge over Wycombe in their twenty meetings, with ten wins and four draws to their name. Wanderers haven’t won away at the Saddlers since 1998, a run of five games in all competitions. In fact, they have failed to beat the West Midlands side in any of their last eight meetings.
The Chairboys have made a recent habit of ending poor runs against many sides including Scunthorpe, Rochdale and Burton, so they will be hoping that it’s not a continuation of a sequence like it was against Coventry, and instead they can pick up three points for their fourth win in five.