‘We would have lost that last season’. A phrase that has been wheeled out on a regular basis by large sections of the Wycombe fan base, and with justification too. Everyone had an inkling of what to expect from a direct Mansfield outfit going into the game, most of all Gareth Ainsworth who would have been disappointed with the sluggish start made by his team. Much had been made of the superb start to the season made by the Chairboys defence in the build up to the game, especially the contributions of Alfie Mawson and Aaron Pierre at centre backs. However, the first twenty minutes of the match was a stark reminder that these are young players who are still learning their trade. The Stags could well have been out of sight as the Wanderers froze allowing Matt Rhead and Rakish Bingham to control the early stages. Mawson and Pierre had a lesson in the first half but rather than let the dreadful start ruin their day they grew into the game and came to terms with the maladroit but effective Rhead, that takes strong character and will stand them in good stead as the season progresses.
The game turned on a bizarre decision by referee Darren Deadman to award Wycombe a penalty on twenty nine minutes, much to the bemusement of everyone in the ground. We are often told that these things even themselves out over the season and I reckon The Stags are owed a lucky break of their own in the coming weeks. The Chairboys came to life as the half wore on as they got used to a 4-3-3 formation with no natural width. I was again impressed with Aaron Holloway, who should really have opened his account for the season shortly after the equaliser. His strength and ability to hold the ball up, bringing other players into the game releases the pressure on the defence, last season a ball would be cleared forward only for it to come straight back. After a torrid history of injuries, I hope we see much more of the youngster and that the fans give him some time to find his feet.
After the break, Mansfield racked up an impressive corner count of sixteen but offered little threat to Matt Ingram. Wycombe had to dig in and the hard work paid off with Peter Murphy again popping up in the right place to force home the winner on seventy seven minutes. With four goals and some excellent performances in midfield already, Murphy has the hallmarks of becoming a cult hero at Adams Park.
An ugly win, but a vital three points against an awkward team. I feared for Mansfield when they lost Sam Clucas on deadline day but the signing of Rakish Bingham is a tremendous bit of business by Paul Cox. I wish them well for the rest of the season.
For the post match thoughts of Gareth Ainsworth click here
it was great to be alongside Bill Turnbull in the commentary box as he made his first visit to Adams Park of the season. ‘Ballroom Bill’ is a passionate fan of The Chairboys and that can be heard in his commentaries. Take a listen to the ‘highlights’ from the game, including us trying to work out who had scored the winner. Many thanks to Keith Cummings for the audio.
Mobile and tablet version here
Tuesday presents a lovely midweek trip to Plymouth. If you aren’t making the long journey then tune into Chairboys Player where I’ll be calling the action alongside Wycombe fan Jonny King. There will also be team news, reports and a post match with Gareth on BBC3CR 98FM from 7pm.