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:
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.
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 ajust 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 thatMakele 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.
The former Jamaican international can hear the shouts too. He said: “The crowd were so close to the pitch at Solihull I could definitely hear them and I thought my moment had arrived.
“It would have been a great moment right in front of the Wycombe fans and I can’t believe I stuck it wide.”
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…
I’ve nowhad 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 remainsthe 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.
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…