This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Joey Barton’s Fleetwood Town play host to Wycombe Wanderers this evening in their League One Play-Off semi-final first leg.
It’s been a stellar season for both clubs with tonight’s visitors Wycombe finishing the season in third place, recording 59 points until the curtailment.
Whilst the Cod Army snuck into the play-offs and secured sixth spot, with it all set for an enticing match up between two entertaining sides.
Who will win tonight?
The team here at FLW offer their predictions…..
Wycombe have been handed a chance here given the curtailment of the season, but they’ve got a tough task on their hands in Fleetwood this evening.
Since the football restarted, we’ve seen some freak results and these play-off games are difficult ones to call, particularly given the fact that neither side has kicked a ball in a competitive game for nearly four months now.
Joey Barton’s side play some good stuff and I fancy them to reach Wembley overall, which makes my prediction here a home victory.
However, it’s going to be tight and it could go either way. The League Two play-offs proved that to us.
Either way, it could be a cracker.
I’m going to go with a Fleetwood home win here. 2-1.
There can be no denying that Wycombe are a really hard team to play against and they are such a battling, physical team, and I think that will play in their favour over two legs as they look to keep things tight and hit teams on the counter.
But Joey Barton is an excellent motivator and he will have his players right up for this one, and I think he’ll know that Fleetwood’s best chances of getting anything from the tie will be at home, as Adams Park is such a tough place to go regardless of there being fans present or not.
They have some really exciting attacking players, and I would back them to get the job done tonight, but that doesn’t mean it’s over heading into the second leg by any means.
I think home advantage will see Fleetwood over the line in the first-leg.
Joey Barton’s side have really impressed me at home this season, having lost only once at Highbury in this year’s league campaign.
Wycombe are a decent side though, and certainly will be no pushovers, as they look to round off an impressive season with promotion into the Championship.
But I feel as though if the likes of Paddy Madden, Barrie McKay and Ched Evans are at their best, then the Chairboys are going to be up against it from the first whistle.
Fleetwood will know that Wycombe will fancy their chances in the second-leg at home, so it’s important that they build a lead in the first-leg, to open the tie up in the second-leg at Adams Park.
Had this game come straight after the season ended in March, Fleetwood would likely have been the more confident of the sides having not lost since early January.
The fact of the matter is, however, that neither side has played in nearly four months which I think throws consideration of form out the window.
I can’t help but thinking that this is going to be a really cagey affair and one in which both sides will be desperate not to lose.
The fact that Fleetwood are at home makes me think they’re going to be riled up, particularly given Barton’s management style but I think Wycombe are going to have enough to weather that storm.
This one looks to me like a low scoring draw, 1-1 heading back for the second leg at Adams Park.
Two teams that are so committed to the cause, I can’t see many goals in either leg in all honesty.
Fleetwood are the side I will lean towards in this first leg but only 1-0, and I think Wycombe would be happy with that for the return.
Certainly, both are going to be at it full throttle because there is no doubt Joey Barton and Gareth Ainsworth are going to have let any complacency creep in and it should be a contest full of desire.
It’s such a big opportunity for both sides to get into the Championship and I think we’ll see that reflected in these two legs.
It’ll be tight, but I’ll go for Fleetwood this evening and then we’ll see what happens in the second leg.