We all know what happened the last time Wycombe met Southend. Since emerging victorious on that Saturday in May just over three years ago, the Shrimpers have settled back into life in League One with relative ease, recording finishes between seventh and 15th. This time around, though, reaching the play-offs seems like a realistic aim.
With club legend Chris Powell as manager, no major losses player-wise over the summer, and their status at this level more than secure, there seems to be little reason why Southend can’t launch an assault on the top six. Their form after Powell’s appointment in January was encouraging, with nine wins and only four defeats from his first 18 games in charge.
Having now had a transfer window to really put his stamp on the place, and with experience of winning this division with Charlton not too long ago, Powell will surely be confident of achieving great things with his side in 2018/19. If they carry on as they left off, the Shrimpers could soon gather enough momentum to go a step further this time around and return to the Championship, where they’ve not played for over a decade.
Last season: 10th in League One
In charge: Chris Powell
Powell became the first permanent manager in Southend’s history to win his first three matches, emerging victorious against Scunthorpe, Peterborough and ultimate champions Wigan. The former left-back’s best years as a player came during his first of three spells at Charlton, with whom he won promotion to the Premiership – where he’d previously played with Derby – as First Division champions in 2000. His five England caps also came during this period.
The 48-year-old finished his playing career with Leicester in 2010, having been a member of their 2008/09 League One title-winning side. He stepped in as joint caretaker manager of the Foxes for one game not long after his retirement, before taking his first permanent job at the Valley the following year, leading the Addicks to the League One title in 2012 with a whopping total of 101 points. A spell with Huddersfield and another brief caretaker stint – this time with Derby, where he’d been assistant to Nigel Pearson – followed. As a Southend player, Powell made over 250 appearances and won promotion in 1991 and 1992 as the Shrimpers reached the second tier for the first time.
Star player: Mark Oxley
The ‘keeper enjoyed an excellent 2017/18, ending it as Southend’s Player of the Season and attracting interest from higher up. His boss has praised him as a “key component in [the team] winning games” and the 27-year-old, who didn’t miss a league match, kept nine clean sheets under Powell, including in each of the final four fixtures. That took his total for the campaign to 15 in League One and 17 in all competitions. He could well reach the 100-appearance mark for the Shrimpers by the end of this year.
Key ins: Midfielders Luke Hyam and Timothée Dieng have joined from Ipswich and Bradford respectively, with fellow midfielder Sam Mantom and striker Tom Hopper both arriving from Scunthorpe – Mantom on loan and Hopper on a permanent deal. Powell has turned to Charlton to bring in centre-back Harry Lennon, while winger Sam Barratt has made the step up to the EFL from National League Maidenhead.
Key outs: Midfielders Anthony Wordsworth and Josh Wright have both moved to fellow League One sides, joining AFC Wimbledon and Bradford respectively.
Wycombe wins: 6
Southend wins: 4
First meeting: 02/09/1997 (League One): Wycombe 4-1 Southend (Wycombe scorers: Mark Stallard (2), John Cornforth, Paul Read)
Last meeting: 23/05/2015 (League Two play-off final): Southend 1-1 Wycombe (7-6 on pens) (Wycombe scorer: Joe Jacobson)
Last Wycombe win: 13/12/2014 (League Two): Wycombe 4-1 Southend (Wycombe scorers: Paris Cowan-Hall, Matt McClure (2), Joe Jacobson)