The Thursday Preview: Wycombe Vs Southend
The play offs were supposed to leave everything hanging in the balance but as we enter the final weekend of the regular season, too many issues have been resolved and Murdoch’s boyz must be agonising about their hit rates and advertising revenue. They’ve missed out on a straight shoot out between Cardiff and Norwich after the former collapsed against Boro, they’ve seen those Peruvian shirted Saints do just about enough to defy the Terriers and they’ve seen messrs Brown and Adams tumble forlornly to Level the Third. At this rate, they’ll be out-rated by Homes under the Hammer.
So where will Sky station their cameras this weekend? The dogfight between Lincoln and heroic Barnet is arguably the narrative to follow, although those unlikely Daggers go to London Road with a chance of staying in their division that at most points of the season seemed unfathomable. This is small beer though – nothing to compare with last term’s epic Wednesday v Eagles battle – have the league’s mechanism designers, the dreaded fixture list compilers, lost their muse?
Not at Adams Park. How timely was that 3-1 win for the Wanderers at Bury last week? Two men who have greatly impressed me in the past did the damage to the newly promotees – Ben Strevens – of the seemingly superfluous “r” – a tall wide man with deceptive skills, the author of two goals, accompanied on the charts by one Gareth Ainsworth; once, briefly manager of Queen’s Park Rangers. Ainsworth hunkers down over the ball like a personal possession – dogged and with a shot on him to die for – only this time, it was his cranium that applied the killer touch.
Wycombe, despite their non-league antecedents, have the feel of the upwardly mobile – they haven’t matched Dons or Latics but could well do so at some point. This is prosperous commuter belt territory, albeit taking place in an plunging valley that discourages expansion. The Chairboys have shuttled between the bottom two levels following their years as semi-professional aristoracy but proximity to the Smoke has attracted a dramatis personae of British football – O’Neill. Adams, Lambert, Taylor, Sanchez and now Gary Waddock: provider of another QPR connection. That victory at Gigg Lane went together with a win over Crewe to arrest a draw peppered run against the lesser lights that had threatened to upset the promotion bid.
As for Southend, the announcement that five players will be released will do little to cheer a side marooned in mid table although at one point, this campaign looked worse for the Essex club. The emergence of 18 year old Kane Ferdinand has been a highlight of the season as this dynasty of Hapsburg-sounding footballers continues to run and run – but this will be Wycombe’s day – a nervy 1-0 win will book them a day out at Bramall Lane.