Wycombe Wanderers vs Bradford City preview
@Adams Park on Saturday 22 December, 2012
By Phil Abbott
The joyous, festive moments of Christmas clumsily fuses together a potent cocktail of mulled wine, mince pies and the ‘1001 ways to cook turkey’ book, with timely footballing retreats punctuating the gastronomic marathon. Importantly, it is the stage of the football season where the fate of many a team begins to become much more predictable and clear, with half the season’s games consigned to the history books and a busy festive period of fixtures often defining the men from the boys.
Now we’ve reached this psychological milestone in good fashion, I’ve begun to look with eager anticipation each week at the league table, but increasingly so at the other accompanying fixtures in the division. The top half of the table is tight and a play-off position is very much on the radar for a significant number of teams. It begins to highlight quite vividly just how important a long unbeaten run of league games will be in the final reckoning. For those who like to micro-analyse their league tables after every final whistle, it is also clear to see that even a drawn game at this stage can have a significant impact on the league standings come ‘Final Score’.
So on the face of it, if City were down to play away this weekend, it would seem that a lowly, underachieving Wycombe Wanderers team would be the perfect pre-festive fillip for the promotion-chasing Bantams. However, any City fan expecting a walk in the (Adams) Park on Saturday is well off the mark if recent form is anything to go by. The Chairboys are on the crest of a wave having put together a 5 game unbeaten league run, including impressive victories away at Rotherham and Accrington, as well as their 3-0 thumping of Burton Albion. It’s just the Bantams’ luck that they are catching The Blues on the up as City need the vital 3 points a victory would command, enabling them to keep the chasing pack at arms’ length.
The Bantams are themselves in quite a rich vein of form, and whilst there will likely be few survivors from the reserve team that was dispatched by Brentford midweek after extra-time, there may still be one or two sets of leaden legs after the well-documented recent fixture pile-up. Places are up for grabs all over the pitch and it’s great to see the depth of squad available to Phil Parkinson. I suspect the starting line up will be very similar to the Southend game, with a few changes made to the bench. I expect to see both Zavon Hines and Kyel Reid continue their comeback trail as substitutes.
Such is the magnitude of this game, that the club have given 2,000 free tickets out to fans to create a huge away atmosphere once again. City will, I’m sure, compete well in all departments and I’m reasonably confident that they will return to West Yorkshire with points of some description, but my feeling is that an early Wycombe goal would really put the cat amongst the revitalised metaphoric Wanderer pigeons.
Fasten your seat belts for a bumpy ride; one that is likely to define the quality of Christmas cheer in many a claret and amber household. To have to wait until Boxing Day to watch City put right any wrongs from Adams Park might just be too much for some fans – especially for those ‘enjoying’ entertaining the in-laws! Let’s hope we are able to toast the collective claret and amber, and not resort to the lonesome glass of ‘Claret’ for footballing solace.
Prediction – Wycombe Wanderers 1 Bradford City 2