Why it would be dangerous to write off Preston North End old boy Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe Wanderers

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Every single game this season is another addition into the history books of Wycombe Wanderers Football Club.

The Chairboys are playing their first ever season at this level and everyone connected to the club is simply enjoying the ride.

Wycombe were tipped to be at the wrong end of the League One table last season and defied the odds to spend the majority of it amongst the top couple of positions.

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Their form dipped towards the end of the curtailed season but points per game saw them jump up and into the play-offs, comfortably seeing off Joey Barton’s Fleetwood Town in the semi-final, before a famous Wembley win against Oxford United.

Former Preston North End winger Gareth Ainsworth is the long-serving, leather jacket-clad manager of Wycombe WanderersFormer Preston North End winger Gareth Ainsworth is the long-serving, leather jacket-clad manager of Wycombe Wanderers
Former Preston North End winger Gareth Ainsworth is the long-serving, leather jacket-clad manager of Wycombe Wanderers

That is in no small part down to their charismatic boss – still a favourite around these parts – who is getting a lot out of a little down at Adams Park.

Former Preston man 
Gareth Ainsworth is the second-longest serving manager in the Football League, eight years into his time with the Chairboys with two promotions to his name.

Ainsworth has never had lots of money at his disposal and has instead built his team around a strong work ethic and commitment from his players.

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His style of play is well documented, with a graphic before the play-off final highlighting it perfectly.

Between his side and Oxford, they had played the most and fewest short passes respectively, and had the most and least possession in the season, respectively.

Don’t expect Wycombe to be a side that PNE can press high as the Chairboys look to play out from the back, because that won’t happen.

‘Back to front and go from there’ is the name of the game for Wanderers.

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They do utilise their target men well though, with Adebayo Akinfenwa often taking the headlines.

A handful no matter what, the gym-loving forward is able to unsettle any defence and cause a bit of panic.

There will also be a former North Ender involved on the playing side at the weekend, with Daryl Horgan joining Wycombe on a two-year-deal in the summer.

Horgan has been a key man for Saturday’s visitors so far this season, with service from wide areas important to Wycombe. Ainsworth’s men travel to PNE in decent form.

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They have lost just one of their last seven, having lost their first seven games in a row prior to that.

They seem to have found their feet at this level now and will prove a sterner test as the season progresses.

Few sides have been written off so readily when joining this division as Wycombe, on a shoestring budget, performing above their perceived station and in the league for the first time.

But if the Championship is consistent in one thing, it is that it is not consistent at all.

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Nothing can be reliably predicted in the second tier so to rule the Chairboys out at any stage would be to set yourself up for a fall.

Ainsworth’s men will be well drilled and prepared for the contest at Deepdale and North End’s ability to break teams down, especially at home, will likely be tested.

Wycombe are good from dead-ball situations, with Joe Jacobson from left-back capable of the spectacular, so it will be a bit of an examination for the backline at times.

A win would see Wycombe climb out of the drop zone.