Friday, 23 August 2013

PREVIEW: Wycombe Home (24/08/13)

So the 'Derby That's Not Really a Derby' returns this weekend as Wycombe come to town looking to knock their supposed rivals off their perch. We, of course, are top of the league at this early stage in the season with a 100% record from our first three league games and looking to make it four from four. But even a cursory glance at our record at home to Wycombe in recent years should set off alarm bells, with the yellows unable to beat Wycombe at the Kassam since 2005. Those Oxford fans predicting a comfortable home win could be shocked to find the form book overturned this weekend.

Wycombe's start to the season has been something of a mixed bag, with a 1-0 opening day victory at home to Morecambe being followed up by defeats to Wimbledon and Mansfield. By all accounts the Chairboys' display last weekend was a real shocker so they could either be drained of confidence ahead of their visit to Oxford, or (more likely) seeking a response. Similar to last week's opponents Torquay, Wycombe's matches have so far been low-scoring affairs, with just three goals scored in their league matches (and only one of those for Wycombe). But with United so far having scored nine times and conceded three in our opening three league games, that record could be about to change.

Wycombe are likely to hand a debut to 20-year-old midfielder Billy Knott who joined on loan from Sunderland during the week, while striker Paris Cowan-Hall is likely to miss out with medial ligament damage sustained last week. Captain Stuart Lewis is another absentee, currently serving a suspension after getting sent off in Wycombe's defeat to Wimbledon.

Sean Rigg will be a big miss for Oxford after tearing his hamstring at Plainmoor last week, which will keep him out of the side for six to eight weeks, but we will be boosted by the return of Alfie Potter and Dave Kitson after the batterings they've received in recent matches. The absence of Rigg means that Callum O'Dowda could get a run of games in his place, having impressed hugely during pre-season. Of course, last weekend Chris Wilder chose to replace him with Asa Hall and he got his name on the scoresheet, which certainly provides some food for thought. Whoever gets the nod against Wycombe would seem most likely to feature in Wilder's plans over the coming weeks.

As you might expect with two clubs that are separated by just 30 miles, there are several familiar faces in the two sides. Foremost among those is Jon-Paul Pittman, who spent the last two seasons at the Kassam after joining from...Wycombe. His time at the club was ravaged with injury and as a result we never saw the best of him and he made just 12 appearances in all competitions during that time. Another name on the Wycombe teamsheet that will conjure some (mostly negative) memories for United fans is Dean Morgan. His brief spell on loan at the Kassam Stadium was characterised mostly by his prima donna antics and most were relieved to see the back of him when he finally left the club. Scott Davies also has a Wycombe link; the Aylesbury-born midfielder was in Wycombe's (now-defunct) Academy until he was sold to Reading aged 14 and also spent some time on loan at Adams Park in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, making a total of 27 appearances in all competitions and scoring six goals.

Wycombe's visit to Grenoble Road last season is one we'd rather not remember as the Chairboys ran out comfortable 1-0 winners after an insipid Oxford performance. In fact, we've only beaten Wycombe once at the Kassam Stadium when Ramon Diaz oversaw a 2-1 home victory with goals from Jamie Brooks and Steve Basham. However, it's not all bad. Our last visit to Wycombe was a very happy one indeed, as United put on an imperious performance to beat the Chairboys 3-1, having lost the previous six away league games. Proof indeed that when these two sides meet, form goes out of the window.

ALSO: Don't forget that this match is Yellow Army Flag Day! If you own an Oxford United flag it's your job this weekend to bring it, hang it up at the stadium or wave it as they players come out. Don't have one? That's no problem! The Yellow Army will be selling flags outside the 12th Man Bar tomorrow, or if you have a bit of spare time on your hands, why not make one?

From the Vaults

Wycombe Wanderers v Oxford United, 11th November 2006

18 matches into our first season in the Conference and still unbeaten, having just beaten title rivals Dagenham & Redbridge away in the preceding qualifying round, optimism was high going into this match. However, it just wasn't meant to be on the day and after matching Wycombe for much of the game the higher league side's clinical finishing proved the difference between the two teams.

You can find this and many other old OUFC matches in our NEW & IMPROVED VIDEO VAULT!

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