Tag Archives: FA Cup

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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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…

Beany:Disco

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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The Long & Winding Road

Ah, the end of the football season. A time for reflection on what could have been which will soon melt into the anticipation for it all to kick off again in August.

League 2 has been a funny old division this time around, which was summed up perfectly by the final game of the campaign at Adams Park.
Both Wycombe Wanderers and Cambridge United had poor starts to the season, but found themselves on the final day with an outside chance of the play offs.
A convincing 1-0 victory was not enough for The Chairboys as the required ‘favours’ elsewhere failed to materialise.
I spoke to an upbeat Gareth Ainsworth, shortly after the final whistle:
An improvement on last season’s league position, points total and goals scored are all positives to take away from a gruelling campaign which also included two significant forays into the cup competitions.
A continuation of the poor form from the end of the 16/17 season saw a slow start to the season which ultimately contributed to Wycombe falling just short of the top seven.
The unbeaten run through the winter months was exhilarating, but the games mounted up and injuries to key players brought about a slump which was arrested in time for a tilt towards the play offs.
I’m doubtless that some will look at the failure to beat Morecambe away or hold on against ten man Cheltenham at home as the reasons why The Chairboys missed out on the play off party.
Quite simply though, the league table doesn’t lie.
As Gareth said on the interview:
“You are where you are after 46 games”.
Tottenham Hotspur away was one of those days that reminds you of what a brilliant (and cruel) game football can be.
The performance of the team with the noise and passion from the fans was absolutely fantastic, whilst the drama on the day was just unbelievable.
Apologies to the people who I made cry with the audio montage of the game afterwards.
Here it is again for those of you who may have found it too painful to listen to at the time:
The trip to White Hart Lane was a real highlight of the season for me but there have been many others along the way too.
It’s a real privilege to be able to help tell the story of Wycombe Wanderers each week and I hope that the rise of the club continues under Gareth Ainsworth.
Thanks to everyone who has tuned in, tweeted, said hello and stopped for a chat, be it at Adams Park or on the road/train.
It’s been a pleasure.
Have a great Summer and, of course, COYB!
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The fine margins of League Two

The up and down of form of Wycombe Wanderers is certainly a head scratcher this season.

It was not that long ago at all when great records were falling.

Best unbeaten run for over ten years, longest consecutive scoring run since the late eighties and somewhere along the line the Chairboys equalled their consecutive win tally too.

Yet if the Blues succumb to a defeat against Accrington Stanley (if the weather permits the game to go ahead), it will equal the worst run of back to back defeats (six) in the Football League ever for Wycombe, a record set in April 2006.

What’s changed?

This is the question that is raging around the stands and bars at Adams Park, social media and forums.

Fatigue since the cup exploits against Tottenham Hotspur and Checkatrade Trophy run?

A gruelling sequence of six uninterrupted Tuesday night away games?

Injuries to key players?

Silly mistakes and missed chances?

Key decisions going against Wycombe?

It may well be a combination of all of these things.

Perhaps a touch of bad luck too, with defeats against Colchester and Crawley coming from two world class strikes that certainly do not happen every week in League Two.

The wretched performance at Stevenage aside, all of the games lost have been tight affairs, with the fourth goal away at Exeter coming very late on with players committing themselves forwards to force an equaliser.

Looking back a bit further to the winning run, these matches were all pretty tight too in the league with a couple of 2-0 wins being the most comfortable results in the sequence.

This pretty much sums up League Two for me this season.

Wycombe have certainly lost the winning habit of late and Gareth will have to rediscover it without the immediate help of Pierre, Stewart, Kashket and Hayes, all potential game changers who are currently injured.

Here is what Gareth had to say to me on BBC3CR after the defeat at home to Crawley Town…

Off the field, it certainly has been a successful season for the Chairboys with the lucrative cup runs.

However, the fans do not want to see a repeat to the end of last season which ended with a whimper and a mid table finish.

The sticky patch that Wycombe currently find themselves in has seen them drop to eleventh in the table but still only four points off the play off positions.

With thirty-nine points still to play for and twenty-four of those to be contested at Adams Park, all is still to play for… COYB!

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It’s magic, you know…

The magic moment that I’ve been patiently waiting for since the 1990s.

I’d been predicting that this draw would happen to anyone who would listen to me over the last couple of months, and I admit that I’d imagined it actually taking place in the third round of the FA Cup.

To see it pop out as the first two balls of the fourth round draw was surreal to say the least, and to think of some of the hugely unsavoury things that I’ve sung and shouted at Martin Keown down the years…

You see, I’m one of those despicable people that support two football teams. Wycombe Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur.

I come from a long line of Tottenham fans, my Nan was born and bred a goal kick away from White Hart Lane, whilst my other Grandparents lived up the road in Edmonton.

One of my early memories is playing football in the back garden there and being able to hear the crowds at Spurs, the perfect back drop to my attempts to plant the plastic football in the bottom corner of the washing line post that played the part of the goal.

My Dad has told me all about his regular outings to the Lane to watch Bill Nicholson’s double winners and it was his love of the game that took me and my brother to our first ever live match in January 1987, Wycombe Wanderers v Bromley in the Isthmian League.

We had moved to High Wycombe a couple of years before and I remember wandering up to Loakes Park, wondering why that part of town always smelt of chocolate.

The game was a tempestuous affair which The Chairboys won easily, with Bromley having a player sent off.

The sights, the smells and the swearing ensured that I was hooked, whilst watching Declan Link whip corners in was a thing of beauty to my young eyes.

The next few seasons really were a golden age for the beautiful game for me.

Later that year, I got an early dose of galling disappointment when Spurs somehow lost to Coventry City in the FA Cup final, a superb diving header from Keith Houchen breaking my heart.

I carried that disappointment around with me until January 1989, when I was delighted by lowly Sutton United unceremoniously dumping the Sky Blues out of the third round.

This, coupled with Wimbledon winning the cup in 1988 guaranteed that I fully understood the magic of the greatest club competition in the world.

After the thrillingly brilliant Italia 90 World Cup, it was all about Gazza and I was taken to see Spurs play for the first time, an away game at Loftus Road where they drew 0-0 with QPR.

Upon leaving High Wycombe that day, I’d been cruelly informed that Gascoigne was injured and wouldn’t be playing, so I sat in silence the whole way down the A40, already acutely aware that an afternoon of observing Steve Sedgley lumber around the midfield wasn’t going to be great.

The joke was on me as Gazza shone in a tight game with the cauldron like atmosphere of Loftus Road ensuring that I’d extended my vocabulary too.

I was by now a complete football obsessive, getting my fix from televised games, Sports Night and Match Of The Day, whilst tracking the Wanderers in the pages of Midweek and The Bucks Free Press.

Take it away Barry Davies:

“Is Gascoigne going to have a crack?

“He is you know. OHHH I SAY…”

It’s still one of my favourite commentary moments ever.

Whenever I hear it, I’m transported back home  dancing around the living room. Perfection.

I didn’t have to wait long to experience the FA Cup in the flesh either.

Queuing up in the rain with my Dad outside the new home of The Chairboys to secure tickets for the second round clash against West Bromwich Albion.

We were not to be disappointed:

Next up, I got a paper round and some disposable income which was largely spent on season tickets to get me into Adams Park at every opportunity.

Wycombe Wanderers became the focus for six wonderful years until I went to university in London and started to go and watch Tottenham and experience the dizzy heights of the Premier League.

2000/2001 really did set the bar high for FA Cup magic.

Wycombe Wanderers and Tottenham both marching to the semi-finals, only to avoid each other and both get knocked out (yet more heartbreak).

The Chairboys run was simply magnificent though, and the fifth round replay against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park is one of the best games I have ever been to for pure drama.

Over to you Alan Parry:

I wasn’t at Filbert Street as I had to work, so I listened to the game on the radio.

I just couldn’t believe it when Roy Essandoh scored, mainly because I’d seen him make his debut for Wycombe the week before and I had decided that he made Trevor Aylott look like Roberto Baggio by comparison.

A free agent, signed after the club put a plea out on teletext for a striker who wasn’t cup tied, he scored only one goal that season and it knocked high flying Premier League Leicester City out of the cup.

Unbelievable.

Since then, there has been very little for me to speak of in terms of romance in the FA Cup.

I remember getting up in the middle of the night in Beijing to watch Tottenham get beaten by Portsmouth, another semi-final defeat.

Another low point was the then non league Fleetwood Town brushing Wycombe aside 2-0, despite having a man sent off in the first half.

I was away in Albania and 5Live had the game as their main commentary match and I’ll never forget Mark Lawrenson summing up the performance:

“This is the worst display from a Football League side in the FA Cup that I have ever seen.”

Ouch. The magic can go both ways.

Last season, Wycombe took Aston Villa to a replay before bowing out in the third round.

This was a great achievement, but with Villa going through a horrendous season it lacked the sparkle of previous cup endeavours.

Since falling into commentating a few years ago, Wycombe Wanderers have provided me with a real rollercoaster ride to describe.

From survival at Torquay to losing on penalties in the play off final at Wembley, I’ve loved every single minute of it.

With White Hart Lane being demolished at the end of this season, I knew that the FA Cup with Wycombe  was my only realistic shot of being able to commentate on a game there.

Somehow, I just knew it would happen.

Thirty years have passed since my first ever game at Loakes Park and I’m delighted that both my dad and brother will also be at White Hart Lane to see our two teams walk out side by side.

I just hope I can hold it together on the commentary…

gazbelieve

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Powerful Pierre

Ahead of the Chairboys home game against Leyton Orient I spoke to their centre back Aaron Pierre. Fresh from an outstanding set of performances against Premier League Aston Villa in the FA Cup, I asked Aaron about his development so far at Wycombe Wanderers…

Mobile & tablet version here

Nobody can argue that Aaron has not grabbed the opportunity of first team football at Wycombe with both hands, and full credit must be afforded to Gareth Ainsworth for securing the youngster on a permanent contract eighteen months ago. His brief loan spell at the end of the 13/14 season (his first ever professional appearances in the FL) highlighted his potential and since then, Pierre has developed from a raw centre back into one of the finest defenders in Football League Two. With pace to burn and strength to match, he is the first name on the team sheet for me at Adams Park.

The big question now is just how long will the Adams Park faithful be able to enjoy watching Aaron Pierre in action? Few would begrudge the Grenadian international a move higher up the league ladder, his attitude/work rate have been superb and he has become one of the key figures in The Chairboys resurgence. He will leave a big hole at both ends of the pitch when the time comes for him to move on. Hopefully, Wycombe Wanderers will be able to command a healthy fee as they look to continue their journey out of the financial woods.

 

The track used in the audio is called P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L. P.I.E.R.R.E by the band Hooton Tennis Club and you can enjoy the full track on the YouTube video below.

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