Stevenage FC 0 – 0 Wycombe Wanderers

A fiercely contested match at Broadhall Way failed to produce a goal but it was an entertaining game with both sides creating chances.

The Chairboys thought they had scored in the first half when goalkeeper, Scott Brown, launched a long free kick into the penalty area which somehow eluded Stevenage stopper Joe Fryer, only to be heroically cleared off the line by a heavily bandaged Ron Henry.

Several Wycombe players were convinced the ball had crossed the line but the referee waved play on and the Chairboys finished the half strongly after what had been a slow start to the game.

The second half was dominated by Wycombe, especially after the introduction of Sam Saunders and Nathan Tyson, who replaced a quiet Eberechi Eze and an industrious Nick Freeman.

Adebayo Akinfenwa was still not 100 per cent fit but nearly broke the deadlock late in the second half with a clever back header that struck the base of the post.

After the game, I spoke with the Wycombe Wanderers manager, Gareth Ainsworth:

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Wycombe Wanderers 3 -1 Leatherhead

An impressive second half performance saw the Chairboys defeat Leatherhead to make the third round of the FA Cup.

After the game I spoke to the Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth:

 

I also caught up with the evergreen Adebayo Akinfenwa, following an assist and a goal from The Beast:

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Wycombe Wanderers 2 – 1 Yeovil Town

Two first half goals were enough for the Chairboys to record their first ever victory at Adams Park over Yeovil Town.

An excellent strike from Ebere Eze and a penalty from Joe Jacobson looked to set Wycombe up for a comfortable afternoon but a defensive slip allowed Francois Zoko to score just before half time.

The second half never really got going and the home side were able to see out a professional victory that lifts them back up to fifth in the table.

After the game, I spoke to the Wycombe manager, Gareth Ainsworth:

 

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Bean a long time…

It’s getting closer, the excitement is building and I for one cannot wait.

No, I’m not talking about Christmas, I’m referring to Marcus Bean’s first goal for Wycombe Wanderers.

If you go along to most of the games or tune into the commentaries, you cannot have failed to notice that the combative midfielder has been notching up the efforts on goal this season.

After 81 appearances so far for the Chairboys, Beany is overdue a goal and I think it will be a just reward for his excellent form this season so far.

However, he is not here to put the ball in the back of the net. Protecting the back four, breaking up play and turning possession over is a vital cog in any team.

Of course, the whole team defend as a unit but the statistics this season spell out that when Marcus Bean plays in the EFL, Wycombe normally concede fewer goals than when he doesn’t.

Claude Makele made this role fashionable and was so good at it, the position took his name. 

I checked out his statistics for his time at Chelsea and found that Makele scored only twice in 191 appearances for The Blues.

Steffen Freund was the hugely popular midfield enforcer at Tottenham and never scored for them.

Every time he got the ball in the opposition half, most of White Hart Lane screamed for him to shoot.

I’ve noticed that this has started happening to Beany with the excellent Chairboys away following.

At Solihull recently, the cries of “shoooooot” were distinctly audible and nearly paid off: Bean found a yard in the penalty area, only to shoot narrowly past the post.

As a commentator, I’m feeling the pressure of this situation. When the goal comes (not if, when), I have to make sure that I somehow find the words to do the moment justice.

Perhaps I’ll go full Icelandic commentator? Or maybe I should just follow the example of Beany himself…

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I’ve now had the pleasure of Marcus’ company a few times in the commentary box, on the odd occasion of him being injured or suspended, but the first time remains the most memorable for me.

It was an FA Cup tie at Millwall and the Match Of The Day editor had sent me a text in the morning explaining that if Wycombe pulled off an upset and won, they would use my goal commentary on that evening’s programme.

“Wow”, I thought to myself. I’d only been doing this commentary lark for five minutes and I might get on MOTD?!

Wycombe duly obliged with an injury time winner from Michael Harriman, and I floated out of The New Den after the game.

I soon crashed back down to earth on the platform at Bermondsey station.

A text message arrived from MOTD: “Who was your summariser today?

“He’s screamed YEEEAAAAHHH right across your commentary and it’s unusable, we’ll have to use the BBC London one instead.”

Denied a moment of glory by Marcus Bean.

Now I know what it must feel like to play against him on a Saturday.

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Wycombe Wanderers 4 – 0 Crawley Town

A ruthless second half performance from the Chairboys swept aside Crawley Town at a rainy Adams Park.

Eberichi Eze waltzed his way through the Crawley backline shortly after half-time to open the scoring and it was all Wycombe from then on.

Craig Mackail-Smith bagged a wonderful eleven minute hat-trick to complete the scoring and earn him the man of the match award.

I spoke to the striker after the game:

 

I also interviewed Gareth Ainsworth, and the Wycombe Wanderers manager was very happy to see the hard work from training paying off on match day:

On the final whistle, there were heated scenes involving the Crawley Town manager, Harry Kewell, and some of the travelling fans which required the intervention of stewards and some of the players.

The win moves Wycombe up to sixth in the table ahead of the long mid week trip to Accrington Stanley, who currently occupy the final automatic promotion place.

That game will be live on BBC Three Counties 630/1161MW and iFollow with Matt Cecil and Tom Jarvis.

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Martin, Martin, give us a wave!

Last week’s international break has brought about jubilant scenes on the streets of Cairo, Reykjavík and Panama City.

In stark contrast, as Harry Kane sealed England’s World Cup qualification, large swathes of the Wembley crowd were already on their way home, trying to beat the rush for the tube.

It’s all a far cry from Beckham against Greece.

After their routine qualification, made up of insipid performances which failed to banish the memories of THAT defeat to Iceland, I have fallen out of love with the England football team.

However, I enjoyed watching Wales take on the Republic of Ireland in a winner takes all match in Cardiff on Monday.

It looked to be an incredibly even contest with perhaps home territory giving the Welsh an advantage.

Not a bit of it.

As a Wycombe Wanderers fan of a certain age, I knew that there was only ever going to be one winner in this game, and that was Martin O’Neill’s Ireland.

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With a team made up of solid professionals without a superstar amongst them, Ireland negotiated a tricky group to secure a second place play-off spot.

In doing so, they were unbeaten on the road.

Their magnificent team spirit, coupled with O’Neill’s tactical nous and big match mentality, was there for all to see in Cardiff.

Now, I’ve been known to be partial to a pint of Guinness, but even Andy Townsend is significantly more Irish than me.

Nonetheless, I was rooting for the Republic.

I have never met Martin O’Neill, but I can safely say that as a result of his magical spell at Adams Park, I would run through a brick wall for him.

I’d probably even wash his car every Sunday if he asked me to.

I may well have my nostalgic blue quartered glasses firmly on, but has anyone else contemplated what it would be like to have Martin O’Neill as manager of England?

I think he would be the perfect fit.

Throughout his managerial career, O’Neill has seen his teams consistently achieve more than their individual constituent parts would have you believe was possible.

There has been plenty of talk in the media about England not having enough quality players to go far in a major tournament.

I have to disagree.

Denmark and Greece have both won major tournaments, whilst Leicester City stormed their way to the Premier League title.

With belief, a little bit of luck and tactics to suit the players you have at your disposal, the sky is the limit.

Former Chairboy, Keith Scott, who was plucked from the depths of non-league by O’Neill before going onto play in the top flight agrees:

“The gaffer had the ability to make individuals and the team believe that the impossible was possible.”

Gareth Southgate has the impossible job.

He seems like a nice guy and had a fine and distinguished playing career, but since hanging up his boots, Southgate’s record as a manager has been underwhelming.

I truly hope he can prove the doubters wrong and lead England to the latter stages of the World Cup in Russia.

Meanwhile, Ireland will have a tricky play off to contend with before booking any flights, but no one will fancy playing them.

As Martin O’Neill said this week:

“I have always feared teams, it’s the best way to be. And then we go out and beat them.”

Mine’s a Guinness.

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Gareth Ainsworth post Exeter City

Wycombe manager, Gareth Ainsworth, spoke to me on BBC3CR following the 0-0 draw against Exeter City at Adams Park.

 

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