Please note: there is a pitch inspection at Adams Park at 10am on Tuesday.
Wycombe Wanderers vs Bradford City preview
@Adams Park on Tuesday 12 February, 2013
By Mark Scully
A chorus of “Wem-ber-lee Wem-ber-lee” greeted the final whistle on Saturday after Bradford City had lost 1-0 at home to Gillingham. Was this really appropriate? Or was it more proof that The Bantams’ faithful has long since switched priorities from the league to the cup? Had Swansea lost 4-1 at home to QPR on Saturday, would they be singing about going to Wembley?
Saturday’s loss, a third home defeat on the bounce, compounded the misery that is the league form at the moment. At least this time around Phil Parkinson’s men put in a decent(ish) performance compared to the Rochdale and Oxford games, where in truth, especially against Oxford, we were completely outplayed. On another day, James Hanson would have scored at least one and Nahki Wells would have beaten Stuart Nelson after the Gills’ keeper had denied Gary Jones in the first half. Ultimately though, it was another defeat that, in my opinion, all but ends a promotion challenge this time around.
The play offs are only six points away, which is more than achievable; but this worrying form has continued for the best part of two months now. And with only two points out of the last 18, something needs to improve quickly if we are to make a challenge for the end of season lottery. When was the last time we put in a really good performance in the league?
Take the cup final away, and the highs of beating Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa, and look solely at the league…is it really good enough? I’m not saying we should be romping away with the titlle, but we have proved early in the season that we are good enough to mix it in the automatic promotion places, not flirt around the edge of the play offs and mid table. Ask yourself the question, without the cup exploits, and with the form the way it is, would Parkinson be under pressure to retain his job? I believe that he would be.
I’m not saying sack him or anything like that, but there does need to be a reality check that the league standing isn’t good enough – after all we pushed all out for promotion at the start of the season, didn’t we?
Tonight gives Parky’s men the perfect opportunity to get Saturday’s narrow defeat out of the system; as they travel down South for the re-arranged fixture with Wycombe Wanderers. The home side are unfortunately one of the league’s form teams. Gareth Ainsworth’s side are in fine fettle and have been for the best part of two months. Their last defeat in the league was on New Year’s Day at home to Exeter. Since then, The Chairboys have beaten Chesterfield, Dagenham and on Saturday thumped York City 4-0 – all at home – and on the road Wycombe have beaten Gillingham and drawn at AFC Wimbledon in recent weeks.
The win against York lifted Wycombe above City in the League Two table and, after a dire start to the season led to Gary Waddock losing his job, they have superbly turned things around. It will be the first meeting between the two clubs this season after both the original game at Adams Park and the game at Valley Parade were postponed. And hopefully City can leap frog their hosts and back into play off contention.
The team selection on Tuesday night and on Saturday against AFC Wimbledon will be vital. Back to back wins and suddenly the table looks a lot healthier. Back to back defeats, and even the most optimistic of fans would surely be settling for another season in League Two.
Listening to Parkinson on the radio after the game on Saturday, he himself knows that the squad aren’t performing. I would imagine a few changes will be made for tonight’s game. With Tom Naylor now back at Derby County and Andrew Davies unlikely to be risked from the start, Carl McHugh could therefore be recalled to the starting line up.
For me Kyel Reid should be back on the bench. Every now and again he produces a superb cross like for the Hanson header in the second half, but more often than not he smashes the ball into row z after decent build up play. I can’t say I’m in the Reid fan club, if I’m honest. He is probably better suited to an impact role from the bench, and we use his pace to stretch teams late on. I’d start Will Atkinson every week in front of Reid. Atkinson obviously lacks the speed of Reid, but he has more skill and creativity and offers more protection to whoever is playing left back.
If Parkinson opts not to go with Atkinson, I’d be interested to see how Ryan Dickson could do on the left wing. From what I’ve seen of the on-loan Southampton player, he offers more going forward than he does defensively and could be an option for the left hand side. In the middle I’d stick with Jones and Nathan Doyle. The latter is out of sorts at the moment, but there aren’t really any other options. Personally, I think Parkinson missed a trick by not bringing an attacking midfielder into the club during January. We’ve missed the goals of Dave Syers from midfield – Jones and Doyle have been superb in the main, but are more defensive-minded.
The last three trips to Adams Park have been Bradford lose each time – the last two times 1-0, and three years ago we suffered a 2-1 defeat. Hopefully, it can be fourth time lucky for The Bantams. I’d take a point if we can get the win at Wimbledon (which we should be doing). If we do get four points from two away games, then it would be seen as a decent return at this stage of the season.