Fleetwood to upset the Wembley party at Adams Park
One of the more beautifully written English Football League fairytales comes to a head on Monday evening, with Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe Wanderers only needing to nurture a three-goal lead to book their place at Wembley for the League One Play Off Final. You can guarantee that Joey Barton’s Fleetwood Town will be fired up in attempting to pull off what would be the greatest playoff comeback of all time. Inspired by Northampton Town resurrecting a 2-0 first leg defeat at home to win by three goals in the second leg, leading to the Cobblers dispatching Exeter City 4-0 in the final to seal promotion.
That first leg
It was a crazy affair at the Highbury Stadium, with three goals inside six minutes and the Fishermen were eventually reduced to nine men as Lewie Coyle and Paddy Madden were dismissed. Coyle was shown a straight red after 33 minutes for a foul that resulted in a penalty that was missed by Joe Jacobson. Coyle got the ball first but the follow through caught the opposing player just below the knee, which was what prompted the colour of the card. Harsh in my book.
The second was one of petulance and an extreme lack of professionalism was displayed by Madden in the 84th minute. He was booked for simulation, which was also harsh, appealing for a penalty, and then received a second yellow card for dissent. Unacceptable from the 30-year-old who is his club’s top scorer and sits second behind Ivan Toney in the League One scoring charts.
Having said all that, Wycombe were outstanding right from the off, with Nnamdi Ofoborh setting the tone with a great volley to give them the lead inside two minutes. The Bournemouth loanee’s strike did get a touch off goalkeeper Alex Cairns on the way, it was a nightmare of a performance from the stopper, arguably being at fault for all four goals. Former Premier League keeper Matt Gilks warms the bench, he is now 38 but it would not be surprising if he is called upon by Barton. Summer signing David Wheeler looked threatening throughout, netting the third goal, but also nearly scoring with an acrobatic volley, he was unlucky to see his effort hit the post in the rebound to Joe Jacobson’s saved spot kick.
It is a momentous occasion for the Chairboys and earning promotion would be one of their greatest achievements in the club’s history. There is bound to be nerves and potentially a drop off in motivation with the three-goal lead, Fleetwood were 1-0 victors in their last visit to Adams Park and will dare to dream on Monday evening.
Wycombe should be fine to qualify but the Fishermen will be stronger in the match with all the impetus on them to break Ainsworth’s men down.