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League One

“We are totally aware it’s only half-time”: What the managers said after first leg

6 May 2022

Wycombe Wanderers boss Gareth Ainsworth has encouraged his side to remain grounded after the Chairboys saw off MK Dons on Thursday evening to take a two-goal advantage into the second leg of their Sky Bet League One Play-Off Semi-Final.

The Buckinghamshire outfit, who clinched the last remaining Play-Off spot, struck either side of the break to beat the Dons 2-0 at Adams Park

And Ainsworth has called for calm heads going in to the second leg at Stadium MK on Sunday evening.

We are totally aware that this is only half-time,Ainsworth said. I would be naïve to think that anything is done yet. With a 2-0 lead at half-time, were in a good position.

Im going to play it as that as well. Ive told the boys, this is going to be the longest half-time break youve had for a while. Ill be giving them a team talk just before the game on Sunday. Its all about recovery now and getting them boys back in shape.

It was defender Ryan Tafazolli and leading marksman Sam Vokes who made the score-sheet, and Ainsworth highlighted their individual contributions to the team, as striker Vokes notched goal number 17 of the season.

When Ryan Tafazolli scored that header, I jumped higher than him on the touchline,Ainsworth laughed. I cant help but get involved.

The 48-year-old added: When youve got a player like Sam Vokes making that ball stick and flicking things on up front, youve got to use him to his strengths. That second goal just epitomised what hes brought to this team from signing from Stoke.

Eight years ago, he was playing in the Euros Quarter-Finals. To have him here, the humility on the guy is ridiculous hes taken over the mantle from [Adebayo] Akinfenwa who came on at the end there. Its a real great Club to be at.

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The substitutions that I made showed that I wanted to go for it. Lewis Wing and David Wheeler were two attackers coming on to try and get some more goals. Jason McCarthy hit the bar, Jordan Obita had a chance and Garath McCleary went through. We definitely opened them up.

The Chairboys boss was full of praise for the Wanderers faithful, who packed out Adams Park to create an atmosphere to remember.

Ive never seen Wycombe bouncing like it was tonight,he noted. Im so proud of that. That is progress from where we were eight or nine years ago.

We deserve the result. MK are going to come at us on Sunday, without a doubt. We know what thats like, were always in that position. Its going to be a very cagey game, Im sure, and an interesting one.

MK Dons looking to seize home leg "opportunity"

MK Dons head coach Liam Manning, on the other hand, emphasised the opportunitythat the weekend presents for his side to get back into the tie.

The 36-year-old insisted it will be the visitors to Stadium MK who will be feeling the heat when the two teams lock horns once again with a place in a Wembley Final at stake in two daystime.

I think back to Boxing Day where we had 45 minutes to turn around a 2-0 deficit,he explained. The fact weve got 90 minutes is a terrific opportunity to go again and try and put it right.

Its really important we dont sit around and feel sorry for ourselves. It flips the pressure on Wycombe a bit. Theyre coming to our place on our pitch, and theyve got a lead to hold on to. To a certain extent, weve got nothing to lose going into the second game.” 

Breaking down the Donsperformance, the Norwich-born coach maintained he was pleased with his sides first half-hour but admitted they were outmuscled by a Wycombe side set up to counteract their style of play.

Although youre on top, Wycombe always carry that physical threat; you can see that from the first goal that they scored,he stated. They remain so dangerous. Thats what the players spoke around after. We have to work hard and be brave to dominate the game with how we want to play.

I wont make any excuses. You have to remember their age and experience, and that plays a part of it. It can also bring some positives in that they can bounce back, and they are resilient they havent been tarnished by too many moments like that.”

MK Dons will be without Josh McEachran for the second leg, after the midfielder was issued his marching orders for a second bookable offence in the second period.

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Its a blow,Manning added. Josh has been terrific for us. There was no malice in it, it was just slightly mistimed. Its part of the game.

But the 36-year-old is confident the Dons' fanbase can more than match the crowd at Adams Park on Sunday. 

We need the fans to get behind us and generate an atmosphere to give the lads a boost and give them that drive. Thats the challenge: our pitch, our noise, our atmosphere, our fans.


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