It's the trip they all wanted

By Rob Davies
Last updated : 13 January 2006
With Notts County's recent record against Wycombe Wanderers to consider, the journey to the Causeway Stadium is never one that fills the Magpies supporters with immediate excitement.

And when you also take into consideration the fact that John Gorman's side have lost just two games this season and lead the League Two table, it is certainly a journey that County fans will make in hope more than expectation.

In fairness, the Magpies did manage to end their barren streak against the London-based outfit the last time the two teams met, with Stefan Oakes' 30-yard cracker giving Notts their first success over the Choirboys since 1999.

Tomorrow, Oakes will line-up in opposition to the Magpies. The midfielder secured a free transfer switch to Wycombe in the summer and has been central to their startingly good record this season.

Remember him?
Like many creative midfielders who preceeded him, Oakes was frequently lambasted by supporters at Meadow Lane. Despite scoring no fewer than six goals from outside the 18-yard box last season, many fans still felt the 26-year-old didn't work hard enough during his stint at the club - and let him know about it.

The cultured left-footer was even dropped towards the latter days of his Notts career, as then-manager Ian Richardson opted for work-horses Matthew Gill and Paul Bolland in the centre of his midfield.

But, under the footballing philosophy of Gorman, Oakes has flourished at his new club. Alongside veteran Rob Lee, he has been a key figure in Wycombe's sudden rise from their 10th placed finish last season.

Gorman's teams easy-on-the-eye style of football was no better summed-up than last weekend, where they lost their first game at home in the campaign.

The Choirboys somehow lost 5-4 to Maccesfield, after earlier coming back from 3-0 down to lead 4-3.

Wycombe's success this season is made all the more impressive when it's taken into account that they lost star striker Nathan Tyson to our local neighbours two months ago.

In his absence, evergreen Tommy Mooney and Kevin Betsy have filled the void and both are sure to prove a handful tomorrow afternoon.

Notts manager Gudjon Thordarson, though, believes he has the secret weapon that will kill Wycombe's undoubted collective attacking threat.

His name? The Beast of Barnsley.

On his 28th birthday, Lee Crooks is expected to make his Notts County debut tomorrow after signing on-loan from Bradford City in the week and it is surely this kind of game that he has been signed for.

The combative midfielder is likely to replace Lewis McMahon as the Magpies look to stiffle their hosts and perhaps even gain their first away win since the 2-1 victory at Boston back in mid-November.

Thordarson has slight doubts over David Pipe and Jake Sheridan, while Steve Scoffham is definetly out after picking up a knock in the 3-2 win over Darlington.

Non-contract defender Adam Tann makes a welcome return to the preliminary 18-man squad, but transfer-listed trio Matthew Gill, Gavin Gordon and Matty Williams again miss-out, as does injury-victim Rob Ullathorne.

Kelvin Wilson could start his first ever senior game in attack, after impressing as a substitute against Darlington. The defender could replace out-of-form Andy White.

Notts (possible): Pilkington; O'Callaghan, Baudet, Martin; Palmer, Pipe, Edwards, Crooks, Needham; Wilson, Sheridan.

Subs (from): Marshall, Friars, Tann, McMahon, Long, White, DeBolla.