A fantastic start to the New Year has seen Wycombe Wanderers win five on the bounce and climb into the automatic places, just two points off the top of League Two, after deserved victories against promotion rivals.
The triumph at Cheltenham Town on New Year’s Day epitomised the winning mentality instilled within the Chairboys by manager Gary Waddock, as they came from a goal behind to take all three points thanks to two spectacular efforts from Stuart Beavon and Gareth Ainsworth.
Danny Andrew had given the home side the lead, beating Nikki Bull at his near post with a free kick from distance, but just before half time Beavon drove home after wriggling free of the tight defence. Ainsworth ensured Wycombe’s impressive away form continued, with just one loss all season, as his looping header beat Scott Brown in the Cheltenham goal to seal the points, despite a late rally from the home side.
With momentum firmly behind them, the home fixture against Gillingham couldn’t have arrived at a better time for Wycombe, just two days after the Cheltenham victory. However, Gillingham themselves were in fine form having won there previous five matches, and were looking to creep up on Wanderers with victory at Adams Park.
Gary Waddock took a risk by leaving in form Gareth Ainsworth on the substitute bench but the manoeuvre worked and it was a defender who got his name on the score sheet to give Wycombe a 1-0 victory and set a new club record; as the Chairboys found the back of the net for the nineteenth game in a row.
Dave Winfield headed home the only goal of the game with power after fellow defender Andy Sandell’s commanding header came back off the bar from Matt Bloomfield’s corner. Gillingham could have taken a share of the points late on, but Cody McDonald’s chip came back off the bar to ensure a clean sheet and fifth successive win for Wycombe.
The important victories have also opened a slight gap from the chasing pack, giving Wanderers some breathing space, but Gary Waddock wants no let up, insisting his player enjoy the pressure:
"There is no point of being frightened, scared or worried about it. Go and enjoy it. Every single game is a difficult game and we have been able to pick up wins. The players have put a lot of work in but there is a lot of hard work still to be done."
Wycombe also moved early in the transfer window to bring in Swansea City midfielder Scott Donnelly on loan until the end of the season. The wait has been a long one, but Waddock finally got his man after two unsuccessful attempts whilst manager at Aldershot, and once in the summer with Wanderers.
He now insists the transfer door is closed and is happy with his squad after building in the summer and bolstering further with the recent additions of Scott Donnelly and Stuart Lewis on loan.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.