IT’S official – Wycombe Wanderers are in a relegation battle.
Manager Gareth Ainsworth confirmed fans’ worst fears after this afternoon’s 1-0 defeat by fellow strugglers Bury saw Blues continue their slide ever further down the League Two table - days after saying it was too soon to say if his side were involved in the survival scrap.
They’re winless in seven, have won once in 16, and are only being kept above the trapdoor that leads to non-league football by a less inferior goal difference to Torquay United, who boosted their survival hopes with a 1-0 at Portsmouth today.
No side in the division is on a worse run of form that the Chairboys, who have failed to find the net on five occasions in the last seven games.
It’s led to Ainsworth finally admitting his team are firmly embroiled in the scrap to stay in the Football League, adding next week’s home game against Accrington Stanley is one Wanderers simply have to win.
And the battle will continue after that, Ainsworth added.
He said: “Next week’s game against Accrington becomes enormous – it’s a huge game now. I’ve told the boys that – don’t think about anything else now, we are in a relegation battle and we need to get out.
“I have to win that game, there’s no two ways about it. We are at home against a big relegation rival and we need to turn it round. I can’t stress how big it is but it’s not just going to be that game. If we win that game and go 17th or something, the next game’s going to be huge to get up to mid table.
“I’ve told them for 12 weeks I want you to be prepared for a battle. You’ve got to dig as deep as you possibly can. We’ve got to put those chances away, we’ve got to not make those mistakes.
“It’s not time to get the boots back on but I wish I could sometimes and get out there with them. People need to grab this opportunity and make things happen. I’m looking at it as an opportunity for someone to make a name for themselves – somebody to actually pull this club out of the trouble we are in. Someone out there on the field, do it.
“People are obviously going to get worried we are down the bottom. 22nd position isn’t great at all and we need to turn this round.
“I’ve told them we have to dig deep, start hitting the target and start putting the chances away that we are getting. There’s no rocket science in it.
“I’ll be back next week, without a shadow of a doubt, working hard Monday to Friday to get the result against Accrington next week. It’s an enormous game, I’m under no illusions it’s not a big game. It’s huge for us.
“I’m more than sure we’ve got enough in this dressing room. It’s a case of getting it all together on a Saturday on the pitch and beating Accrington.”
For the fourth time in seven games one goal – this time confidently despatched by Anton Forrester – was enough to see Wanderers off but Blues in truth didn’t create enough to earn a share of the spoils, to Ainsworth’s obvious disappointment.
He said: “One mistake, one goal can cost us a lot and it’s shown today. There wasn’t much else in the game, it was two teams at the bottom battling it out and one mistake, one lack of judgement, and we’ve conceded and they’ve held on for all three points.
“We had chances but at the moment we are on a bit of a drought and there’s no goals going in. It’s something we have to address.
“You’re always disappointed after a defeat but I can’t fault their commitment. The commitment’s there, the lads are in there devastated today, absolutely shattered. It’s just a bit of quality, the quality in front of goal sometimes, a lapse of concentration for their goal, but there wasn’t much in the game.
Ainsworth added: “This has ruined my weekend and it’ll ruin it until Monday morning when I can get back on the training pitch with the boys.
“We’ve been on a hell of a bad run. It’s time for a good run and what a chance to do it next week. I’m really relishing it.”