Ainsworth inspires gutsy Wycombe win
Wycombe Wanderers upset the odds with a superb 2-0 win at Millwall this afternoon.
The Chairboys hadn't won in fourteen games and the Lions hadn't lost at home for eight months, but none of that mattered today as the visitors put their poor start to the season behind them and gave the kind of spirited performance their fans have been crying out for.
With several injuries to contend with, Wycombe manager Gary Waddock made three changes to the side that lost 2-0 at Brighton in the FA Cup on Wednesday and the Chairboys lined up in a 4-5-1 formation as follows:
Hunt Westwood Oliver Woodman
Ainsworth Mousinho Doherty Davies Betsy
Subs: Young Duberry Westlake Bloomfield Green Spence Beavon(30)
What a difference a week makes. With last Saturday's capitulation at Huddersfield still fresh in the mind, it was like watching a different team altogether this afternoon. Solid at the back, tenacious, combative and inventive in midfield, quick on the break and clinical in front of goal, Wycombe were all that and more at the Den today.
New loan-signing Gareth Ainsworth made his debut this afternoon and any worries about his age or fitness were soon dispelled as he quickly demonstrated the quality, fight and commitment he's famed for at Loftus Road.
Two full-blooded challenges from the veteran winger in the first ten minutes alone, were enough to let Millwall know that Wycombe weren't just there to make up the numbers today
The first two goalscoring opportunities of the match fell to the Chairboys.
Following a Wycombe free-kick, the ball fell to Ainsworth and when he wriggled into the box and fired in a fierce low cross, all it would have needed was a touch to give the visitors the lead.
Shortly afterwards, another Wycombe free-kick was perfectly flighted by Scott Davies and met by defender Chris Westwood, whose powerful downward header bounced in front of the goal and over the crossbar.
Millwall also had opportunities, and Wycombe keeper Scott Shearer had to get down smartly to turn a Chris Hackett free-kick round the post, before Lions' defender Paul Robinson headed the resulting corner wide of the upright when it looked easier to score.
Already without two injured strikers and with Chris Zebroski having joined Torquay on Friday, the last thing Wycombe needed was Jon-Paul Pittman being stretchered off after only 30 minutes following an innocuous tussle for the ball close to the dugouts.
It was a worrying sight to see as Pittman was rushed down the tunnel with Waddock bringing on Stuart Beavon in his place.
Overall, Wycombe gave as good as they got during the remainder of the first-half, with Ainsworth causing the Lions all sorts of problems down the right flank and Betsy keeping them occupied on the left, while Doherty, Davies and Mousinho snapped at their heels in the middle of the park.
At the back, concentration was the order of the day and apart from some dubious distribution from keeper Scott Shearer, the visiting supporters saw little to concern them compared to recent weeks.
When the half-time whistle sounded, the Wycombe fans rose to applaud their team off the pitch, pleased with their commitment, hopeful they could sustain it, but probably not expecting what was still to come.
The Lions enjoyed a spell of prolonged pressure at the start of the second half, but some resolute defending from the whole Wycombe team along with some fine handling by Scott Shearer ensured that the visitors' goal remained intact.
The opening goal came from a corner after 54 minutes when Chris Westwood met Scott Davies' deep delivery and planted his header just inside the post to send the Wycombe fans behind the goal into raptures.
Millwall tried to come back but you could sense a determination about Wycombe today and they held firm while always remaining dangerous on the break. It was a really pleasing aspect of the Chairboys performance that one minute the entire midfield would be back supporting the defence and the next they would all be forward supporting the attack.
The crucial second goal was a beauty. When Scott Davies fed Kevin Betsy a good 40 yards from goal, the winger headed straight for the Millwall goal, held off a Lions' defender and outwitted keeper David Forde before slotting the ball home to the absolute delight of the travelling fans who now believed they might actually win.
Unlike against Walsall, Brighton and Exeter when the Chairboys had victory cruelly snatched from their grasp in the dying minutes, this time they held their nerve, kept their concentration and kept their first clean-sheet of the season to bank all three well-deserved points.
Every single Wycombe player deserves a pat on the back tonight after what was a great team performance.
Some Special Mentions
Credit should go to Chris Westwood who was heavily criticized after the Huddersfield game despite being played out of position and has shown great strength of character to bounce back and show us what he's capable of in central defence.
John Mousinho was another one who probably had his best game for Wycombe today, coming to the rescue at the back on several occasions and doing a fine job in central-midfield breaking up the play.
Man Of The Match
His excellent attitude and battling qualities seemed to rub-off on his team-mates.