Tag Archives: BBC Three Counties

Commentary highlights: Chesterfield v Wycombe Wanderers

Here are the BBC Three Counties Radio commentary highlights from Wycombe Wanderers clinching promotion at Chesterfield on Saturday:

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Is Ainsworth heading for the ZZ Top?

Five games to go and Wycombe Wanderers are currently occupying an automatic promotion place. Ahead of the trip to Yeovil, I caught up with Gareth Ainsworth, where amongst other things, we talked about his beard:

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Beard today. Wycombe fans will be hoping it won’t be gone tomorrow

Landing planes in tricky conditions and haunted houses – Luke O’Nien talked me through the recent Chairboys squad development day, plus Harry Kane’s dubious goal and the location of his last away goal:

I also spoke with Marcus Bean about the run in, pep talks for Jabo Ibhere and what could happen if he scores another pivotal goal this season:

If you aren’t making the trip to Huish Park, join me for full match commentary on BBC Three Counties Radio 630/1161MW and on iFollow.

 

 

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Crewe Alexandra 2 – 3 Wycombe Wanderers

3-2 to the Wanderers against Crewe for the second time this season and with both games providing injury time winners.

Here’s the story of the game (including a brief retrospective of the winner at Adams Park earlier in the season):

 

It was all too much for the home manager, David Artell, who was sent off for his protests as the Chairboys went 2-1 up on ’82 minutes, after what looked to be an obvious handball in the build up.

Crucially, both the referee and his assistant didn’t see it and the bespectacled Crewe manager was dispatched to the stands after going over the top in his protestations.

His glasses would have been steaming up again ten minutes later as after Crewe had scored on ’88 minutes, it looked like they were on for their first draw in 25 league games.

It was not to be, as a defensive horror show opened the door for Craig Mackail-Smith to score his ninth goal of the season and snatch the winner for the Chairboys deep into injury time.

Wild celebrations erupted in the away end as the win made sure Wycombe Wanderers remained hot on the heels of the top three in League Two.

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It had been a sad week for the club and the game overall, with the sudden death of former player and pioneer, Cyrille Regis.

Football has a strange habit of throwing up poignant little statistics and just prior to the impeccably observed minutes silence for Cyrille before kick off, the PA announcer informed us all that the last time Wycombe had won a league game at Gresty Road was in 1994, and Cyrille scored the winner that day.

Football can be a funny old game sometimes.

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After the game, I spoke with Chairboys manager, Gareth Ainsworth for BBC Three Counties:

 

 

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RIP Cyrille Regis

Football remembers the great Cyrille Regis

 

 

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Nathan Tyson and Craig Mackail-Smith enjoy the moment with the fans

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Wycombe Wanderers 0 Colchester United 2

A poor second half performance from Wycombe Wanderers saw them succumb to defeat against old rivals Colchester United. An evenly matched first period was certainly one for the defenders with both sets of centre backs dominating in a game of few chances. The best opportunity fell to Aaron Pierre, who headed wide following a peach of a cross from the impressive Danny Rowe. Shortly after this, Garry Thompson was correctly booked for simulation as he looked for a penalty and at half time the match was delicately poised.

The Chairboys continued with their game plan of getting crosses and the ball into the box as often as possible, but they were all met by the flawless centre back pairing of Luke Prosser and Tom Eastman. Just after the hour mark, Colchester displayed their clinical side with Chris Porter prodding the ball home from six yards after good work down the right and side from Sammy Szmodics. And it was Szmodics who sealed the win with a wonderful finish on 81 minutes as Wycombe committed players forward in search of an elusive goal. The first shot on target for the home side finally arrived in injury time, but Dayle Southwell’s shot on the turn drew a fantastic save from Sam Walker.

After the game, I spoke to Gareth Ainsworth for BBC Three Counties

The attack has been in need of confidence, pace and quality since February and Gareth looked to address this with the signings he made in the Summer. With the injuries coming thick and fast in the opening stages of the season, it’s the absence of pacey wide men Myles Weston and Paris Cowan-Hall that look to be hurting  Wycombe the most. However, whilst their on pitch reputations had fans salivating at the prospect of exciting attacking football, their respective injury records were always a potential cloud on the horizon.

Ten games into a new season is a fair amount of time to provide an accurate reflection on how a squad is settling down. Wycombe are halfway through this period and have a tough run of fixtures ahead with the fans still sore after a poor finish to the last campaign. As Chairboys manager, Gareth has survived an incredibly sticky situation and also delivered the club’s record points total in the Football League, both achieved in tricky financial conditions. So far, 2016 has been a very poor year in terms of goals scored and he will need to draw on these experiences to turn this around.

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Pirates On The Horizon

The Chairboy’s old friends Bristol Rovers are in town, complete with their new Jordanian owners. Both clubs have come a very long way since the climax of the 2013/14 season, and today meet in much healthier positions in the table. With only one point between the two sides and with Rovers on a three match winning streak against the Wanderers, it should be a tasty affair.

I spoke with Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth in the build up to the game

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I also had a chat with midfielder Sam Wood

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Full match commentary will be on Chairboys Player from 2.55pm, whilst build up, team news, reports and a post match interview with Gareth Ainsworth will be on BBC Three Counties across all their frequencies.

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A home from home

Well. Who would have thought a long trip to Plymouth would have resulted in a former Pilgrim scoring from a set piece to claim all three points against high flying Argyle? Even under a different manager, the same defensive frailties were still evident against the Chairboys, as the home side failed to deal with a poorly delivered early corner. And after an almighty scramble in the box, it was Gozie Ugwu who triumphantly rose from the mud to celebrate a much needed strike which he will hope can kick start a run of goals.

Before the game, I enjoyed a chat with a friend who is a season ticket holder at Home Park. As you could only expect from a football fan of a team riding high in the league, his glass was very much half empty. His main concerns were that Wycombe would press the Plymouth midfield high up the pitch and disrupt the flow of the game as in his opinion, that would be how to stop them from playing their game. How right he was!

Armed with an early lead to defend, the Chairboys slowed the pace of the game down at every opportunity and made it a real war of attrition, aided by the combination of a dreadful pitch and an immobile referee in Philip Gibbs. Even with the early loss of young goalkeeper Alex Lynch to injury, resulting in forty six year old coach Barry Richardson going in goal, Wycombe looked comfortable. The only scare for the visitors came near the end of the first half, after Reuben Reid escaped through on goal and appeared to be fouled by Jason McCarthy. Nothing was given however by a referee who struggled to keep a lid on this feisty affair. Shortly afterwards, the board went up to signal the amount of time to be added on to compensate for the Wycombe players receiving treatment. Five minutes!  The Argyle manager, Derek Adams, was furious at this and berated the fourth official to such an extent, Gibbs had to come over to placate the Scotsman. After a short conversation, the board was held aloft once more and proudly displayed nine minutes (a reverse Dolly Parton), although at least one of those extra minutes was used up by Gibbs to transport himself from the centre circle to the touchline and back.

The second half saw Argyle throw everything at Wycombe. I expected the introduction of the excellent Graham Carey at the start of the second half to change the game, but despite some early pressure, the visitors stood firm. Centre backs, McCarthy and Aaron Pierre were superb and in front of them, the returning defensive midfielder Marcus Bean was immense. As the Pilgrims committed more players forward, it was Wycombe who looked the more likely to score as the game came to an end, lighting the blue touch paper in the technical areas on the final whistle…

 

Click here to listen to Wycombe Wanderers manager, Gareth Ainsworth, talking to me on BBC Three Counties after the game.

And to read the post match thoughts of Plymouth Argyle manager, Derek Adams, click here.

The story of the day though was undoubtedly the Wycombe Wanderers debut of Barry Richardson. At the age of forty six, Richardson became the oldest player to represent the Chairboys in the Football League, beating Rob Lee by over six years. I caught up with Barry after the game…

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Living On The Volcano

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“Living on a volcano: any day may be your last”.
This is is how Arsene Wenger, currently the longest serving manager in the English game, perfectly describes the precarious nature of being a football manager.
The phrase is used as the title of Michael Calvin’s latest book, which charts the progress of twenty managers, all in various stages and levels of their career.
I first met Mike Calvin on that day in Torquay.
He was in a no lose situation, as whatever happened, it would provide some superb copy for his column in the Independent.
As we all know, it was a magical fairy tale rather than a double funeral that was typed up amongst the scavenging sea gulls in the Plainmoor press box.
The following day, in stark black and white, his words also shone a sobering light upon the challenging circumstances that Gareth Ainsworth had dealt with in keeping The Chairboys in The Football League.
Shortly after, Mike began work on ‘Living On The Volcano’, and Gareth’s continuation of his fairy tale last season, provides an excellent frame for the book.
The average life span of a Football League manager is seventeen months, and last season there were fifty-seven managerial changes in the top four divisions.
We all know their faces, watching and listening to their post match press conferences, but what do we really know about these characters that chose a life of high pressure and uncertainty?
The chapter on Alan Pardew is my favourite, learning about his past working on building sites and finally getting his chance to become a professional footballer well into his twenties.
This little known background information, coupled with Alan’s own admissions of his flaws and how he is confronting them has completely changed my perception of Pardew.
I now find myself rooting for him as I watch Match Of The Day which is a complete turnaround for me.
Perspective on life and the human condition is provided by Martin Ling, who candidly talks through his experiences of the serious illness of depression, his subsequent recovery and rehabilitation back into football.
Large parts of the text are purely the words of the managers, but through their trust in Mike, the propaganda of the press room is replaced by personal and insightful stories that provides a fascinating insight in to what makes these people tick and shape their personalities.
The book skilfully interweaves these stories as it skips up and down the divisions and in these days of Premier League saturation, it’s wonderful to read and learn so much about the lower leagues.
Ainsworth recently clocked up three years in the job at Wycombe and a few days later, another belch from the volcano removed Steve Evans from the hot seat at Rotherham.
This has made Gareth the tenth longest serving manager in the Football League which is a ludicrous statistic.
During the time it’s taken me to write this column, Graham Alexander has paid the price for a poor start to the season at Fleetwood.
On average it takes a managerial casualty eighteen months to get another job and a chance to rebuild their reputations.
Fifty-eight percent of first time managers never get that chance which explains Ainsworth’s voracious work ethic in turning Wycombe’s fortunes around.
In fact, Gareth has been working so hard, he told me he hasn’t had a chance to read the book yet!
As a football fan, it has thoroughly enhanced my understanding of the beautiful game.

 

Available in all good bookshops and on Amazon too.

 

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