AFTER suffering the worst day of his managerial career last week, proud Wanderers boss Gareth Ainsworth experienced one of his biggest-ever highs as his side pulled off the great escape.
At kick off Blues were overwhelming odds-on favourites for the drop, sitting three points from safety on the last day of the season and needing a favour from elsewhere.
They got it, with fans tonight toasting Mansfield’s Colin Daniel as his winner against Bristol Rovers ensured Wanderers survived at the Pirates’ expense after their side comfortably saw off Torquay United 3-0.
Ainsworth admitted he was pinching himself his side had managed their against the odds survival – and was equally quick to admit he could well have lost his job earlier in a wretched campaign.
Today’s victory was only Wanderers’ second in 12 matches, with Blues having also endured a run of one win in 18 earlier in the season.
Those statistics will count for nothing in the final reckoning – all that now matters is Wycombe have retained their Football League status on goal difference from Rovers, who sink into non-league football instead.
Almost 1,000 Chairboys made the journey to Devon and Ainsworth said: “I’m absolutely euphoric and very thankful for the support we’ve had. I’m proud of the players. It’s a fantastic day.
“Some of the scenes at the end, they’re up as high as anything I have seen in my career. It’s an awesome day.
“To stay up like that, I’m still pinching myself. I’m so proud of everyone who had a Wycombe Wanderers shirt on, or sang a song and clapped us.
“I’m thankful, euphoric and a really proud Wycombe Wanderers manager tonight.
“I might have to ring the missus and say, ‘If I’m not home, don’t worry, I’ll probably be in a ditch somewhere and I’ll come home on Sunday morning looking bedraggled’.”
The Blues boss had been targeting an early goal for his side, hoping it would put pressure on the other sides involved in the relegation scrap, and he got his wish as Sam Wood opened the scoring after just five minutes.
He said: “I said to the boys, ‘Can you affect the other games?’ The first reaction is no you can’t, but really you can because if you score an early goal it filters across to those players. I’m sure the Bristol Rovers players and the Northampton players heard we’d scored early – it does affect the way they play.”
He added: “Last Saturday was one of the worst days in my career. Monday morning I made an absolute concerted effort to be a positive guy and get everyone buzzing and get the place really rocking.
“I said give me everything and I will support you – you’re my players. They have paid me back tenfold today. It’s a special day I won’t forget for a very long time. There’s teams who’ve finished in mid table who haven’t had a day like this. It’s a nice way to stay up but I might need to go and get my heart tested after this.
“I love my job and it can be hard and you can have dark times, but there’s a lot of good people around me supporting me. They’ve got me through this.
“I want it never to happen again, that’s the message, but go out and given me what you’ve given today in every single game and we’ll be fine.
“A lot of managers probably would have lost their jobs with some of the runs I went through, but hopefully that goes to repay a little bit of faith.
“We can’t paper over we’ve had a bad season but to finish it like that is really special.”