By David Mitchell
With twelve games left, Fleetwood Town lie eighth in a group of nine clubs who will realistically be chasing honours come the end of the npower League Two season.
Victory, and revenge, over Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday will not be enough to get Graham Alexander’s men back into the play-off positions immediately but the manager knows that with 36 points to play for and four games still against top 9 clubs his side are well in the mix.
Alexander will be hoping to welcome back a number of players from injury over the coming days. There were some familiar faces in action once again in the Lancashire Senior Cup on Wednesday and, although the result against Oldham did not go his way, the manager will be encouraged by those returning including midfielder Gareth Evans who scored the goal.
Defender Alan Goodall is available again after serving suspension but midfielder Jamie McGuire misses another two games following his red card against Aldershot.
“We have to improve after Tuesday’s point but I feel we finished the game strongly. People are coming back into the squad fitter and that is going to make us more competitive.
“Quite a few of the lads had a reserve run-out in mid-week. None of the returning players played a full part as they are taking things step-by-step. It was important they came through injury free and they will now add to the competition for places that we want to have. That hasn’t been in place for a couple of weeks because if injuries and suspensions and it’s now good to urge people on. It gives me decisions to make.
“Wycombe had a poor start to the season but Gaz (Gareth Ainsworth) has turned them around. They are playing probably a similar game to how we play. It’s the way he’s played over the years with high energy and 100% effort along with ability. We need to ensure we match whatever they have got and take our game to them. It will be a competitive. I’ve played with Gazzer and know what he is like. It’s not about the managers and I hope our eleven will be better than their eleven on the day,” added Alexander.
Wycombe won 1-0 at Highbury in October but it was another eight games before they recorded their next victory. After three successive defeats recently, Tuesday’s 2-1 win at Torquay was welcome. Player-manager, Gareth Ainsworth, will give fitness tests to midfielders Bruno Andrade, the Highbury scorer, and Joel Grant who both left the pitch on Tuesday with ankle injuries. Ainsworth himself is ready to step in after coming on for Grant.
Ainsworth took over from Gary Waddock in September and has lifted his team out of the relegation zone into a comfortable mid-table position, equidistant from the play-off and relegation places. Following a start to the season which saw six defeats in nine games, Wycombe have consolidated.
However, The Supporters Trust which took over the running of the club in the summer has revealed that it needs to raise quarter of a million pounds and failure to do so could result in administration and a ten-point penalty.
From draw specialists Cheltenham, Town face a side with just six. Only Rotherham have drawn fewer in the league. Statistically, a goal is likely with 19 games since a no score draw for Wycombe and 10 for Town.