Today’s fixture at Adams Park will be an all Championship FA Cup 3rd round clash in an opportunity for both sides to turn their attention away from league proceedings.Embed from Getty Images
It’s fair to say Wycombe Wanderers have struggled to adjust to life in the Championship and in fairness, they were promoted in bizarre circumstances after making the playoffs on points per game.
With just one win in their last 13 Championship games, They find themselves rock bottom with 15 points from 23 games. However, there have been green shoots of improvement over the past few weeks for the Chairboys, but they need to start converting that into points.
The Championship season is at its halfway point, and if Wycombe were to continue at the rate they are going they would finish the season on a meagre 30 points. For Context, the bottom side from last season Hull City finished the season on 46 Points.
Serious improvement is required if Wycombe are to prolong their stay in England’s second tier. Consequently, Gareth Ainsworth has listed a strong Starting XI today as he views this as an opportunity to gain some much-needed confidence, which can hopefully be transferred into the Chairboys’ league form.
As for Preston, they are the epitome of a mid-table side as things stand in the Championship. They have the same number of victories as sides in the playoffs, but also the same number of defeats as sides battling relegation. It’s an anomaly which has left them slap bang in mid-table.
In the position they find themselves in though, North End boss Alex Neil will be plotting a second-half playoff push after missing out last year. The former Norwich City boss has subsequently made wholesale changes today, including numerous fringe and youth players.
As we quite often get at this stage of the competition, we have the strange scenario where the weaker side on league paper are actually the favourites due to the teams fielded on the day. However, as we’ve come to expect with the FA Cup, there is always a level of the unexpected, and this is why we all love sport.
Wycombe Wanderers- Ryan Alsop (GK), Joe Jacobson, Josh Knight, Ryan Tafazolli, Jason McCarthy, Matt Bloomfield, Dennis Adeniran, David Wheeler, Fred Onyedinma, Uche Ikpeazu, Admiral Muskwe
Substitutes- Adebayo Akinfenwa, Darius Charles, Dominic Gape, Jack Grimmer, Daryl Horgan, Scott Kashket, Anis Mehmeti, Alex Samuel, David Stockdale (GK)
Manager- Gareth Ainsworth
Preston North End- Connor Ripley (GK), Josh Earl, Andrew Hughes, Jordan Storey, Joe Rafferty, Jayson Molumby, Ryan Ledson, Brad Potts, Tom Bayliss, Emile Riis, Jayden Stockley
Substitutes- Alan Browne, Darnell Fisher, Jacob Holland-Wilkinson, Matthew Hudson (GK), Paul Huntingdon, Sean Maguire, Adam O’Reilly, Ethan Walker
Manager- Alex Neil
1’- Wycombe get things under way in this FA Cup 3rd Round tie.
3’- GOOOOALLLL WYCOMBE – Leicester City Loanee Admiral Muskwe shows his quality by delivering a peach of a ball to Fred Onyedinma who nods across Connor Ripley and into the back of the net. A big goal for the confidence of Wycombe and Onyedima himself who was instrumental in their promotion campaign in League One but has struggled to make the step up to the Championship.
8’- PENALTY TO WYCOMBE – Uche Ikpeazu is hauled down by Josh Earl in the box and it’s a penalty to Wycombe.
9’- Experienced Welsh Left-Back Joe Jacobson will step up to take the spot-kick.
9’- HE STEPS UP AND SMASHES IT HOME- 2-0 within the first 10 minutes. Has to be said this heavily rotated Preston side are really struggling at the moment. Could be a long afternoon for the visitors.
12’- Almost a cataclysmic moment for Wycombe as a free-kick is floated in by Preston and former Hull City man Ryan Tafazolli who headed it onto his own bar and left his teammates scrambling to get the ball away.
14’- Wycombe utterly dominant as of now. Preston can’t get a foothold in this game. You wouldn’t have thought that Wycombe were bottom of the Championship. Then again, it may not be glamorous, but this is the FA Cup.
19’- Wycombe are not seeing the ball a lot, but Preston just do not look threatening at all when they have it. This is the way Wycombe like to play and they look comfortable defensively as well.
21’- Former Southampton man Jason McCarthy charges forwards and cuts the ball back for Muskwe who fakes a shot and then blasts the ball into the defender. Decent opportunities arising frequently for the home side.
25’- GOOOOALLLL – 3-0 and surely game over. It was a free-kick floated to the edge of the box by Tafazolli that was nodded on to McCarthy who had to stretch to reach the ball to cut it back across the box. It found its way to young Josh Knight who stroked home from 10 yards out. This could be a drubbing.Embed from Getty Images
30’- Corner whipped by Joe Jacobson that curls towards the top corner forcing Ripley to bat the ball off the line. Wycombe appeals that it had crossed the line. Of course, no there’s VAR here at Adams Park. But just for the record – ‘Decision, No Goal’
34’- North Ends defence all at sea. Muskwe has looked so dangerous on his debut. Cuts onto his left foot inside the box and unleashes a shot which is bravely blocked by Storey, but Muskwe follows up and blasts the ball over from eight yards out.
40’- The Danger here for Preston is losing their heads. A couple of decisions going against them and a shambolic first-half performance could lead to a collapse. They’ll do well to steady the ship here.
42’- PENALTY TO PRESTON- All of a sudden a route back into it for PNE- Emile Riis gets in behind and is clattered by Ryan Allsop. A yellow card is awarded to the Wycombe keeper and a penalty is awarded.
43’- The man who was fouled will step up for this spot kick.
43’- GOAL – 3-1- Riis strokes the ball past Alsop and all of a sudden a small lifeline for Preston in this cup tie. Wycombe will be furious as Preston have had little to no sight of goal prior to this.
Half Time – Wycombe Wanderers 3-1 Preston North End – A breakneck first half here at Adams Park. The strength of Wycombe’s lineup showed as they have absolutely schooled a Preston side who have made wholesale changes. It has been the proverbial ‘Men against boys’ contest at times. Wycombe haven’t always dominated the ball but have always looked far more dangerous when in possession. Preston hasn’t looked at all threatening and Jayden Stockley has been utterly frozen out of this contest.
Preston were handed a lifeline courtesy of a hopeful ball over the top chased by the Dane Riis who was subsequently clattered by Allsop. Riis stepped up and scored the resulting spot-kick. I can assure you Preston will be absolutely delighted to only be 2 goals down after that first half. It was catastrophic at times, and Wycombe will be furious this game isn’t entirely out of sight of the visitors already. Gareth Ainsworth will be particularly frustrated with the manner in which his side conceded at the end of the half. The definition of ‘avoidable’ is probably the best way to describe the concession of that goal.
46’- A couple of half-time alterations for Preston as Neil brings some experience on to sure things up. Club captain Alan Browne comes on and replaces young Tom Baylis and Paul Huntingdon comes on for Josh Earl.
53’- First chance of the half goes to Wycombe. Uche Ikpeazu has run the Preston defence riot and exemplified this by turning Jordan Storey inside out and unleashing a powerful effort on target. This time, Ripley was equal to the effort.
57’- Unsurprisingly, 36-year-old Matt Bloomfield is withdrawn and replaced by former Preston man Daryl Horgan.
60’- Daryl Horgan is booked moments after being introduced to the game for a rugby tackle on Ledson after being dispossessed.
64’- Dennis Adensiran comes in with a strong challenge on Riis that infuriates the Preston players and coaching staff. The away side were screaming for a sending off but only a yellow was distributed. I feel even that was harsh. Whilst he did leave the ground he entirely won the ball clean and barely caught Riis with his trailing leg. It is, I’m sure an argument for those against the ‘modern game’, but it is something we have been a custom to in recent years.
67’- Subsequently, Adensiran is withdrawn in place of Dominic Gape.
68’- Free-kick for Wycombe floated towards Tafazolli who chests it down and blasts it against Andrew Hughes and screams for handball. Nothing doing but Wycombe looking to kill the tie off once and for all.
70’- More excellent work from the former Hearts man as Ikpeazu makes something out of nothing and delivers the ball into Muskwe who tries to slot it home from six-yards out but is denied by a good save by Ripley. The game just beginning to creep back into life after a scrappy third quarter to the matchup.
74’- A double substitution here giving a few sheds some needed minutes. Darnell Fisher and Sean Maguire come on for Joe Rafferty and Jason Molumby are the alterations made by Neil – Meanwhile, the effective duo of debuting Muskwe and Ikpeazu are replaced by Alex Samuel and Adebayo Akinfenwa
81’- Andrew Hughes with a strong run down the left before pulling it back for Jayden Stockley with his first real chance of the game. The Preston North End striker hits a tame effort that is comfortably gathered by Allsop.
82’- GOOOOALLLL – 4-1 and that truly is game over. Akinfenwa doing what he does best and holding the ball up, he lays it into Daryl Horgan who slips in a wonderful ball to Alex Samuel who slots last Connor Ripley with a calm and collected finish.Embed from Getty Images
86’- Former Preston man almost scored the sweetest of goals for Wycombe as he runs at Huntingdon and curls a shot that crashes against the post.
90’- Fisher has a positive impact from right-back and created a golden opportunity for Brad Potts with a peach of a cross. Potts really ought to have done better as he headed tamely over the bar.
92’- Fog descending quicker than PNE’s exit from the FA cup this season. I’m sure not too many Preston fans will mind about being unsighted from the action…
Full Time – Wycombe Wanderers 4-1 Preston North End. A thumping victory for the Chairboys as they progress into the FA Cup 4th Round.
In truth, it was a ruthless start from Wycombe that decided this cup tie. The alterations made by Alex Neil were potentially detrimental to the fluidity of Preston. The away side were, of course, handed a lifeline at the end of the first half.
Neil and the Preston North End fans will be most disappointed at the lack of intensity to get themselves back into the game in the second half. The game became very scrappy and Preston missed the very few chances they had before Alex Samuel put them out of their misery. In all honesty, it was men against boys today.
The Chairboys will be looking forward to Monday night’s draw before they attempt to carry this sort of form into a doubleheader of Championship away games, starting at Loftus Road as they take on Queens Park Rangers. As for PNE, they can turn all of their focus to mounting a playoff push, beginning with a doubleheader of away games of their own as they travel to Bristol City.
Thanks for reading.