Date: 3rd August 2017 at 6:54pm
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Wycombe Wanderers entertain Lincoln City on Saturday in their first league game of the season.

The Chairboys start year-four of their five-year plan with a testing clash against last season’s Conference National Champions.

This is the season that Wanderers planned to win promotion, with the fifth and final year of the plan earmarked for consolidation in League One.

Reminded of the plan at a fans’ forum on Monday, manager Gareth Ainsworth saw no reason why his side couldn’t achieve their target, citing a settled squad, excellent team spirit and impressive end to last season as reasons to be positive.

Four wins, two draws and just one defeat in their last seven games propelled Ainsworth’s side up to 9th in the table, just one point shy of Blackpool who claimed the final play-off place and were subsequently promoted at Wembley.

Since the end of the campaign, Wycombe have parted company with five regulars who made a combined total of 217 appearance last season, contributing 15 (17.6%) of Wanderers 85 goals in all competitions.

Jamal Blackman (52 appearances), Aaron Pierre (47 appearances: 2 goals), Sam Wood (41 appearances: 3 goals), Garry Thompson (51 appearances: 7 goals) and Myles Weston (26 appearances: 3 goals) have all departed for pastures new.

Wanderers have made three new signings, 32 year-old defender Adam El Abd who scored twice last season in 34 appearances for Shrewsbury Town, 35 year-old forward Nathan Tyson who failed to score in 18 appearances for Kilmarnock, and 19 year old loanee left-back Jack Williams who has yet to make his professional debut.

At the forum on Monday, Ainsworth said that he hoped to make one more signing before the end of August, but only if the player added something significant to the squad, not just to make up the numbers.

With a comparatively small squad, luck with injuries is likely to be a major factor in the Blues’ success or otherwise, and there’s already a hint of trouble, with star striker Scott Kashket having failed to play a minute of pre-season, and first-choice centre-back Anthony Stewart a major doubt for Saturday.

Paris Cowan-Hall and Marcus Bean were also rested for the final pre-season game against Maidenhead, hopefully just as a precaution.

Wanderers are likely to open their campaign with a flexible 4-3-3 formation featuring Brown, Harriman, Jombati, El Abd and Jacobson at the back, Gape, O’Nien and Saunders in midfield, with a front three of Cowan-Hall, Akinfenwa and Tyson.

Lincoln City won the National League with 99 points to clinch promotion back to the Football League after an absence of six years.

Manager Danny Cowley has managed to keep hold of most of his best players this summer despite interest from clubs in higher divisions.

Cowley could hand full league debuts to a quartet of summer signings including striker Matt Green, who signed on a free transfer from Mansfield Town. He is likely to partner last season’s leading goalscorer Matt Rhead in attack.

Full-back Sean Long will be hoping to start after signing on a permanent deal from Reading whilst midfielder Michael Bostwick is a certain starter after joining from Peterborough United for an undisclosed fee.

Winger Jordan Maguire-Drew has joined on a season-long loan from Brighton and Hove Albion and is also likely to be given a starting role.

Goalkeeper Paul Farman will start between the sticks after recovering from a finger injury suffered during pre-season.

Full-back Rob Dickie joined this week, on loan from Reading until January, and will go straight into the squad. His arrival could see defender Callum Howe go out on loan.

Left-back Sam Habergham hasn’t recovered from hernia surgery in time for the opening day and won’t be rushed back, while Lee Beevers is still recovering from a ruptured patella tendon suffered last October.

Here’s a look at how the two sides fared last season…

Lincoln’s record last season

Home….W:17…D:4…L:2 – GF:48 – GA:17 – Pts:55

Away…..W:13…D:5…L:5 – GF:35 – GA:23 – Pts:44

Total……W:30…D:9…L:7 – GF:83 – GA:40 – Pts:99

Final position: National League Champions

Wycombe’s record last season

Home…W:11…D:6….L:6…..GF:29 – GA:21 – Pts:39

Away….W:8…..D:6….L:9…..GF:29 – GA:32 – Pts:30

Total….W:19…D:12…L:15 – GF:58 – GA:53 – Pts:69

Final position: 9th in League Two

Previous Meetings

In 16 previous meetings there have been 9 wins for Wycombe, 6 for Lincoln and 1 draw.

At Adams Park the tally is 4 wins for the Blues, 3 for the Imps and 1 draw.

1993/94: Lg2 Wycombe 2 Lincoln 3

1998/99: Lg1 Wycombe 4 Lincoln 1

2004/05: Lg2 Wycombe 1 Lincoln 0

2005/06: Lg2 Wycombe 0 Lincoln 3

2006/07: Lg2 Wycombe 1 Lincoln 3

2007/08: Lg2 Wycombe 1 Lincoln 0

2008/09: Lg2 Wycombe 1 Lincoln 0

2010/11: Lg2 Wycombe 2 Lincoln 2

The Man In The Middle

Saturday’s referee is Graham Horwood from Bedfordshire who was promoted to the National List of Referees in 2013.

Last season he took charge of Wycombe`s 2-0 defeat at home to Barnet and their 2-1 home win over Doncaster Rovers.

During the last campaign he issued 6 red and 113 yellow cards in 31 appearances.


Wycombe 1 Lincoln 1