The Build Up: Middlesbrough vs Wycombe Wanderers
On the final day of the 2020-21 EFL Championship season, Boro welcome Wycombe Wanderers to the Riverside.
The game comes of no real significance to Saturday’s hosts, however Neil Warnock will want to finish the season strongly and with back-to-back home wins.
Boro are unbeaten in their last three outings, despite failing to win last weekend against Luton Town, as the two sides played out a 1-1 draw. Duncan Watmore levelled the game instantly after Glen Rea’s opener for the Hatters. James Collins saw his penalty saved by Jordan Archer, in the second half.
It has been a positive season for Boro, with Neil Warnock steering the side well clear of any possible relagation battle, as the Teessiders enter the final game 11 points better off than their final tally last season. However, a real dampener at Boro has been the amount of players injured since the turn of the year.
Dael Fry, Anfernee Dijksteel, Marcus Browne and Marcus Tavernier have all spent time on the sidelines for Boro, with Diksteel and Browne confirmed to be more long-term than Fry and Tavernier. The quartet are all said to be unavailable as the season draws to a close. Mendez-Laing is also a possible victim of an injury, after missing the last few games.
Djed Spence was only fit for the bench last week after he took a knock in training prior to the game. The wing-back may be in line to start, to be given a final game to impress this season.
Boro fans will be itching for the likes of Josh Coburn and Hayden Hackney to be given a good run-out, in an otherwise meaningless game for the Reds.
Another player, who Warnock said would be given a chance, is Sol Brynn. The younger keeper is yet to have been granted the opportunity to impress, and you would imagine this is the last chance that he may get. Warnock has opted to hand Jordan Archer a run in the team, as he looks to impress to earn a longer contract ahead of his expiry this summer.
While Wycombe’s relegation isn’t official, it is everything but. Gareth Ainsworth has done a miraculous job to ensure that their status it taken to the final day, however they find themselves three points behind, requiring a 13+ goal victory on Saturday. It is safe to assume that the pre-season relegation favourites, will be leaving the Riverside Stadium a confirmed League One club.
Ainsworth’s side have shown fighting spirit across the last month, picking up victories over Rotherham, Bristol City and, most notably and recently, Bournemouth since the start of April. The Chairboys boast the leakiest defence in the league, and only two sides have scored more than the Adams Park outfit this season. However, much of that was to be expected given their underdog status heading into the season.
Despite this, there is still a game to be won for Warnock sides, and Boro will be wary of the side’s physical presence that they possess. Strikers Uche Ikpeazu and Adebayo Akinfenwa are no strangers to a physical duel and the Boro defence won’t be expecting an easy afternoon on Teesside.
Former Boro youth academy graduate Alex Pattison is a part of the Wycombe ranks, and makes his first return to the club he joined at nine-years-old. Pattison left Boro after 13 years in their ranks when he departed for the Chairboys in 2019, but has failed to feature often this season, making just six appearances.
The two sides met at Adams Park in the first game of 2021, and it was Boro who would take all three points. A third minute goals by Uche Ikpeazu was cancelled out by goals from Marcus Browne and Marcus Tavernier, as the Reds took a 2-1 lead into the half-time interval. A late Chuba Akpom goal, nine minutes from time sealed the victory for Neil Warnock’s men.
Boro are yet to be beaten by Wycombe in the club’s history. However, the two sides have only met five times, with January’s meeting being the first league outing.
Boro wins: 3