Tag Archives: Bill Turnbull

Wycombe Wanderers 3-2 Swindon Town

Yet more late drama from Wycombe Wanderers… Here is how it unfolded, with Bill Turnbull calling the action:

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

I also had a chat with Adebayo Akinfenwa:

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Wembley preview

We are nearly there! Ever since the final whistle blew at Adams Park to bring the play off semi-finals to a close, the clocks have been pretty much at a standstill. It has been wonderful though to see the online forums/pages buzzing with positive messages, ticket updates and reminisces of Wembley trips gone by. Whatever happens at the home of football, it will bring the curtain down on a wonderful season for Wycombe Wanderers. Be loud and proud and enjoy the game!

I supplied a column in the programme for the Plymouth home leg, attempting to sum up the season. Here is the text…

I probably class myself as both a romantic and an optimist, pretty hopeless on both fronts too. I was struck by both these emotions whilst on the platform at Canons Park tube station last August. With the Summer sun having long dried those joyous tears from Torquay, I found myself enjoying the view of Barnet’s brave new world of The Hive being overlooked by the behemoth corporate arch of Wembley. A new look Wycombe Wanderers had just completed a routine pre season schedule with a narrow win over The Bees, but could they be finishing their season at the home of football on the right? Even for me it seemed unlikely, what with the budget and size of the squad being tiny on both fronts. Yet here we are, just ninety minutes from Wembley and what a season it has been! 

The play offs went from being an unlikely fairy tale to a potential unnecessary nuisance by Christmas, as The Chairboys enjoyed a magnificent start to the season and rode their luck with injuries to the top of the table. Suspensions and injuries cruelly arrived right near the end of the campaign, which coupled with a magnificent late surge from big spending Bury, presented the Wanderers with a ticket to the play off lottery. However, a club record of eighty-four points in the Football League whilst being the second highest scorers in the division with the best away record in the entire country… Not bad for a little club that was on the brink of disappearing all together just twelve months previously.  
At times, it’s been difficult to remember that the club is on a two year plan and operating on a sticky financial wicket. The January sales of Josh Scowen and Paris Cowan-Hall probably cost the club their automatic promotion place, but the money received has helped secure the entire clubs future for the coming seasons with Wasps buzzing off to Coventry. Most importantly, there is a vibrant energy about the club again, tapping into the spirits of past cup glory and the legacy of the Lord Martin O’Neill himself. Gareth Ainsworth has pulled the club together, the players and fans are as one and the results have seen the attendances starting to creep up too. Whatever happens tonight against Plymouth or even at Wembley, the strides made this season have been wonderful to witness and report on. 
I can’t believe I’ve completed my second season in the commentary box too. There have been some great moments along the way. Highlights include; club media man Matt Cecil being chastised live on BBC Oxford for dancing in the press box at the Kassam Stadium, the realisation that Keith Scott is Bobby Davro’s stunt double and Bill Turnbull causing heart attacks across the world by shouting ‘GOAL for Wimbledon’ at the precise moment we were knocked off air as the referee disallowed it. 
A massive thank you to –  Bill Turnbull, Will Vince, Scotty, Matt Cecil, Keith Cummings and the sports team at BBC Three Counties. Most importantly, thank you to all the fans who have been listening and tweeting/texting in, it keeps us all going in those cold faraway press boxes. 
Have a great Summer and enjoy the game. 
Also, BBC Online asked me to try and sum up the massive turnaround of the club in the last twelve months. Arise Sir Gareth…
Just over twelve months ago, Wycombe Wanderers were the width of a cross bar from losing their Football League status. Had results not gone their way, it was a distinct possibility that the Chairboys could have disappeared altogether. Now the boos have been turned in to jubilant Wembley bound cheers and the good old days are returning once again to Adams Park. 
The catalyst for this is the manager Gareth Ainsworth. Many things were stacked against him last season. He inherited a disjointed squad and with no funds it was tough to turn things around, especially as he was still finding his feet in his first full season in charge. It would have been all too easy to blame everything else for Wycombe’s woes but Gareth is made of sterner stuff than that. He came back in pre season with a new outlook and determination but still with no budget, so he changed everything that he possibly could. The dugouts were swapped with the home one reverting to the bench preferred by Martin O’Neill, match day attire for the players was suits and the pitch dimensions became smaller. On the pitch, Gareth cleared out fourteen of the players that nearly took the Chairboys down and only bought eight in. One of the wages for a player was sacrificed to allow a Head Of Sports Science to be appointed which was deemed a big risk but it has certainly paid off with only twenty-two players being used throughout the whole season. 
The calibre of the players joining the club were excellent too. They had to be the right character as well as being able to deliver on the pitch. Every time I interviewed a new signing, without exception and with no prompting from me, Ainsworth was credited as a big reason for joining the club. Capturing proven quality players like Paul Hayes, Joe Jacobson and Peter Murphy was no mean feat last summer following the previous season. Youth has been given a chance too, with Aaron Pierre and Alfie Mawson especially, more than taking their opportunities to shine. 
From back to front the team play in the spirit of their manager and that is why Wycombe Wanderers have turned things around so quickly. Team spirit, unity with the fans and a never say die attitude. Gareth Ainsworth has got the place rocking again.
In a week where the club have been enjoying increased media attention I spoke to Gareth Ainsworth ahead of the trip to the home of football…
Mobile & tablet version here
I also spoke with Nico Yennaris and Hogan Ephraim…
Mobile & tablet version here
Mobile & tablet version here
The other week, before the decisive final league game of the season, I spoke with my good friend and fellow journalist, Brian Jeeves, who is a Southend United fan and reporter. Seeing as the Shrimpers are the team standing between Wycombe Wanderers and League One, I thought it would be rude to not gauge his thoughts again…
Mobile & tablet version here
So, it’s all set to be a tremendous day. If you are coming to the game, come and say hello on Wembley Way as I’ll be there at the BBC Three Counties outside broadcast bus with Scotty.
We’ll also be providing full match commentary, including build up and post match reactions, across all BBC3CR frequencies and Chairboys Player.
For the final time this season… Enjoy the game.
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Wycombe Wanderers 4 Southend United 1

With Wycombe Wanderers topping the table, largely down to the magnificent away form, the home faithful were due a performance from the Chairboys and they got one.

Due to the vagaries of the fixture list, Saturday home games have felt like a rare occurrence so far this season which cannot have helped Wycombe at home so far. Going into the game against Southend, the Chairboys had failed to win in the last three games at Adams Park and more importantly not really performed to their best either. The loanees not being allowed to play in the FA Cup tie against AFC Wimbledon was a blow as it meant that Josh Scowen had to cover the right back position and be sacrificed from central midfield. Danny Bulman ran the show in the middle but it was still a very tight game. Against Burton Albion in the league, Aaron Pierre was most certainly missed too.

So, with no new loan, injury or suspension concerns, Gareth Ainsworth was able to contend with the best sort of selection headaches against a resurgent Southend United. With admirable bravery, the Wycombe manager plumped for an offensive 4-1-2-3 formation which was a joy to watch during the first half. Despite getting caught cold at the start by a clinical goal from the impressive Jack Payne, the Chairboys kept their heads and deservedly went into the break 2-1 up after goals from Cowan-Hall and McClure. The formation offers fluidity going forwards which is proving difficult for opponents to defend against as players are popping up all over the place. It requires a high level of fitness and discipline from the whole team and the role of Josh Scowen in front of the back four is pivotal to the system for me. So far this season, Scowen has been excellent and considering the start of his first team career coincided with the beginning of Ainsworth’s reign, it’s wonderful to see him at the heart of Wycombe Wanderer’s resurgence.

It’s very much a team game though and when Southend had a spell after half time, the defence stood firm. Phil Brown, sporting a wonderful matching flat hat and scarf combo, made a double substitution at the break which gave the Shrimpers a footing in the game. John-Joe O’Toole, a long term target of Brown’s, looked woefully short of match fitness in the first period and was correctly replaced by Gary Deegan in the middle with Myles Weston making way for Kevan Hurst out wide. Ten minutes of possession being dominated by the visitors followed but Matt Ingram only had to make one routine save from a Hurst free kick. Crystal Palace loanee Jerome Binnam-Wiliams, finally contributed something to the game on the hour mark, but unfortunately for him it was a mis timed tackle for which he was given a straight red card.

Wycombe were clinical after this and deservedly added two more goals, a well struck Joe Jacobson free kick which Dan Bentley should probably have kept out and a tremendous strike from Matt McClure from twenty yards. It’s great to see young Matt back amongst the goals. Like I said on here the other week, goalscoring is a confidence game and hopefully this will be the start of purple patch for him.

It’s fair to say that the dismissal would not have had an effect on the overall result and at the time I thought it was a nailed on red. From my angle, I thought Binnam-Williams had gone in two footed but after the luxury of a replay, his second foot came though after the tackle. He clearly mistimed the challenge but I don’t think there was any malice in it. On reflection, I thought it was a full a blooded challenge which had he not made young Jerome would have been barracked by his bench and fans alike. It was also not dissimilar to the challenge that Scowen himself made away at Barnet and only picked up a yellow for. I’m showing my age here, but I remember when tackles like this were always a yellow. Talking to visiting journalist Brian Jeeves after the game, he eloquently defended that he thought it was a harsh red and if the referee was a former player then he would never have given it. I watched it back when I got home and I think Brian has a point. However, from my seat at the time I thought it was a red at game speed so who would be a referee eh?! I talked football with Brian for a while after the press duties were over and one of the questions that arose was, ‘why aren’t there more former professional players going on to referee?’ I think we’ll leave that one for another day…

An excellent win but more importantly a tremendous performance from Wycombe Wanderers which will hopefully encourage a few more lapsed or potential fans to brave the cold at Adams Park on Boxing Day.

Here are the commentary highlights, with thanks to Keith Cummings for the audio…

Mobile & tablet version here

My post match interview with Gareth Ainsworth for BBC Three Counties is here

A jubilant Bill Turnbull and me at full time

A jubilant Bill Turnbull and me at full time

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Wycombe Wanderers 1 Northampton Town 1

Amongst a massive outbreak of ‘handbags‘ yesterday at Adams Park, a game of football took place and finished honours even. Aaron Holloway’s well taken injury time header extended The Chairboys unbeaten run to eight games and what a way to score your first league goal. More plaudits should be given to Gareth Ainsworth for giving this discarded rough diamond a chance, if Aaron can achieve full fitness he could be real threat in League Two.

Most people knew what to expect from a Chris Wilder side and the Cobblers manager got his tactics spot on. Paul Hayes has been the fulcrum of Wycombe’s attacking play and Ricky Ravenhill was deployed in front of the back four to shut this supply line down. The Chairboys skipper has been excellently dropping off in the space between the defence and midfield, holding the ball up and bringing in other players. By squeezing that space in the middle, Northampton blunted Wycombe’s attack whilst nicking a goal of their own through the impressive Ryan Cresswell, shortly after D’ath had missed a glorious chance.

The Chairboys appeared in the second half visibly energised by the gaffers half time talk and with Northampton sitting back Wycombe edged the second half. The introduction of Aaron Holloway for the subdued Matt McClure on sixty four minutes added to the pressure on the visitors. Ten minutes from time, Northampton were rescued by the linesman’s flag which was waved correctly for offside after Paul Hayes had nodded in a rebound from close range. This incident really lit the blue touch paper on an already feisty match which the referee never had control of. The dismissal of Gregor Robertson for a second yellow, punishing supposed time wasting, was harsh as the full back was waiting for a substitution to be made. It summed up the referees afternoon as he had been far too lenient and got the card out at the wrong moment. The home side grabbed the initiative and Jordan Archers excellent save from a Sam Wood shot gave Holloway his chance to shine from the corner.

I don’t like to talk about referees. It’s a tough job and I wouldn’t fancy having a go at it, but yesterday Pat Miller had a bad day at the office. His afternoon could have been made a lot easier had he grasped control of the game in the first half. A glaring example was the Cobblers forward Ivan Toney who littered his display with persistent fouls and kicking the ball away after the whistle. He wasn’t booked until ten minutes from time. The over zealous celebrations at the end sparked a melee which resulted in the comedic site of poor Pat waving his yellow card around at will, albeit about seventy minutes too late.

A point earned for Wycombe and a fair result on reflection. The team spirit was there for all to see at Adams Park and it is this that will stand them in good stead as the long winter approaches.

For my post match interview with Gareth Ainsworth click here

Here are the commentary highlights from Bill Turnbull and myself. Many thanks to Keith Cummings for the audio.

Mobile & tablet version here

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Wycombe Wanderers 1 Cambridge United 0

Ten games into the new season and it’s six wins, three draws and just the one defeat. This finds Wycombe Wanderers second in the table. Impressive stuff, especially when you add that The Chairboys have the most frugal defence in the Football League. A huge amount of credit must go to ‘the gaffer’ Gareth Ainsworth for this tremendous start. He’s picked himself up and turned the place around, assembling a unified team of real quality. The one dark cloud that looms is the size of the squad as a couple of injuries could make things tough. However, Wycombe are really making hay whilst the sun is shining and the optimistic buzz is back around Adams Park.

The loss of Danny Rowe was a blow, but this wasn’t felt against Cambridge United as Josh Scowen and Peter Murphy were both excellent in central midfield. Where the Rowe recall will hurt is if there is an injury in defence as there is now very little cover indeed, but the loan system has been used to great effect in recent times and will no doubt be called upon again as the season unfolds.

Cambridge were another big and direct side which Wycombe dealt with comfortably. The away side started brightly but soon faded when they lost their defensive midfielder Issago Diallo early on. The Chairboys grew into the game and played some great stuff, largely on the deck and really should have gone in at half time with the lead. Sam Wood’s touch let him down at the final moment in the move of the game which featured some wonderful build up play just before the break.

Bill Turnbull returned from the press room tea run to report news of Richard Money really tearing into his players at half time and again the visitors were on the front foot at the start of the second period. Wycombe survived a couple of scares before again taking control of the game. Matt McClure’s luck was still out as he saw his superb instinctive header come back off the post just before the hour mark, fingers crossed he gets his goal soon and goes on a run. On sixty three minutes the breakthrough finally came as Paul Hayes gobbled up an intelligent knock down from a cross to notch up one hundred league goals. Until that point, Michael Nelson and Josh Coulson had been defending magnificently but the sheer volume of balls into the box had worn them down. Gareth reverted to a 4-4-1-1 to combat the attacking changes by Money and The Chairboys looked comfortable seeing the game out, even with a tense finish defending some unnecessary corners.

The first ten games are often the yardstick for the rest of the campaign but after last season I doubt you will find many Wycombe fans getting too carried away. However, I really cannot see the current squad and management team allowing the horrific mid season form to repeat itself and if injuries are kind, who knows where Wycombe Wanderers will end up…?

For the the post match thoughts of Gareth Ainsworth click here

Here are the commentary highlights from Bill and myself…

Big thanks to Keith Cummings for the audio

Mobile and tablet version here


A tense but happy commentary box at the final whistle



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Wycombe Wanderers 2 Mansfield Town 1

‘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.

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Stag do

This weekend marks the visit of the saviours of Wycombe Wanderers! That’s of course if you buy into the theory that the happenings on the final day are any more important than all the previous matches throughout the season. Although Wycombe have started the season well, they are now without a win or a goal in three consecutive games. Mansfield Town have a small squad, injury worries and off the field financial issues to contend with so this is a game that Gareth will surely believe is winnable.

I spoke to Gareth Ainsworth about the game on Thursday morning for BBC3CR.

Mobile and tablet version here

I also spoke with Aaron Pierre about the impressive start to the season by The Chairboys back five. That interview will be included in the match day programme so pick up a copy at the ground tomorrow.

Tomorrow also marks the return of Bill Turnbull to Chairboys Player for his first commentary of the season, I’ll be alongside him from 2.55pm.


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