WYCOMBE Wanderers’ boss Gareth Ainsworth said he was focusing on next season and “feeling positive” despite the club missing out on a play-offs spot.
A 65th minute goal from Scott Kashket was enough to see off Cambridge United, but the Chairboys’ dreams of a trip to Wembley were dashed as Carlisle and Blackpool both won their games to secure their spots in the top seven.
It was an ultimately frustrating and disappointing end to the season in front of a packed house at Adams Park, but Ainsworth said he was proud of everyone connected to the club, and was now looking forward to next season.
He said: “I am feeling great and really positive for next season.
“People will look at this and see that we have just missed out, but we have finished the season brilliantly and it just wasn’t meant to be today.
“I thought we were brilliant and half way through the second half I said to my staff on the bench no matter what happens today with the league, what a performance to finish on.
“We have got 19 players already under contract for next season and with a few more additions, I think we will certainly be up there.
"The philosophy is laid down, the players have all bought into it and now we are just thinking of next season.
“I am really pleased with how we finished the season, we’ve finished really strongly. There was nothing left on the pitch by the players, and it was fantastic to finish the season like that”
Ainsworth did admit that at half time he thought they might beat the odds to make the play offs, and rued a number of key decisions that didn’t go Wycombe’s way.
He said: “I don’t normally check other results but I did today at half time, and I said all we need is two goals, one from us and one from Yeovil, and we got the one we needed.
“There was a funny moment in the second half when Sam Saunders came up to me and asked what we needed and I said “about eight goals Sam” and he didn’t know if I was joking or not.
“But there are moments you look back on during the season, we’ve had numerous referee decisions go against us and we had some worldie performances from goalkeepers, so yeah there are times when you wonder ‘what if’ but now we are just focussed and feeling positive for next season.”
Ainsworth said a key part of his summer would be boosting the squad, particularly in defence.
He said: “Last summer I said we needed more goals in the team, and we addressed that by signing Adebayo Akinfenwa, Scott Kashket and Sam Saunders, and have scored a lot of goals this season.
“So this summer we will look to buy the right players. I’m not going to say who we’re after but I think we will look at the defence as we have conceded some silly goals at points.”
It’s been an eventful season for the Chairboys, who dragged themselves away from the foot of the table to miss out on the play offs, which included a 16-game unbeaten run and a trip to Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup.
But what were Ainsworth’s highlights of the season?
“I know it sounds cliché, but getting into training every morning and being the Wycombe Wanderers boss.
“Every morning I smile because I know I’m very lucky to be the manager of this club. It’s simple things like giving lads their debuts, working with the players and improving the players, and the I’ve got boys who will all run through brick walls for me and the club, which is great.
“There have been some personal ones, the whole ground at Spurs singing my name was great, it gave me a real lump in my throat. There have been some fantastic moments but just turning up every day is the best thing.”
Ainsworth also thanked the fans for their support through the season.
He added: “The fans have stuck with us really well all season. There have been a couple of points where the nerves from the stands have transferred onto the pitch, but I get that, that’s understandable and I know that feeling.
“It’s hard to get fans super-positive all the time, and there have been a couple of differences of opinion, but we have some great fans here.
“The away support has been great all season and I think there’s a real hardcore group of fans who all stick together, and that’s great to see.
“Hopefully next season we will have more down here, because I think there’s a real closeness to League 2 football that you don’t get in the Premier League or the Championship, you are quite detached from it.
“Here you can hear every tackle and almost touch players when they run past you.
“So, a huge thank you to all the fans for all their support over the season, everyone has been great and today I asked for no effort from the players, staff and the fans to be left on the pitch, and the fans delivered.
“So, go and have a beer, because you all deserve it.”