13 March 2021

Gareth Ainsworth insists Wycombe have ‘genuine belief’ they can avoid relegation

13 March 2021

Gareth Ainsworth believes a vital victory over Preston has added to Wycombe’s “genuine belief” they can secure Championship survival.

Ryan Tafazolli’s 27th-minute header was enough to seal a sixth league win of the season for the Chairboys against a Preston side who have won just once in seven games.

Wycombe remain bottom but are now nine points adrift of Birmingham and safety with 10 matches to play, a deficit Ainsworth feels is surmountable.

“They all believe we can stay up,” he said. “We’re only nine points off Birmingham but we’re not even looking at Birmingham.

“We’re looking to catch Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham and Coventry – those teams we’ve still got to play.

“There’s a genuine belief in there that we can do this and it has come at a perfect time.

“Whatever happens, we’ll be fighting. We’ll go down fighting or we’ll stay up fighting.”

Wanderers dominated the opening stages and Tafazolli was a threat from the outset, forcing a save from Daniel Iversen after an earlier header had gone wide.

The goalkeeper then denied Uche Ikpeazu but could do nothing to stop Tafazolli’s header hitting the back of the net when the centre-half again rose highest to meet a Joe Jacobson corner.

Preston made three changes at half-time and posed more of a threat after the interval but Wycombe held firm to claim a valuable three points.

“Those 1-0 wins with clean sheets always feel good,” Ainsworth added. “But what’s even better is we deserve it.

“In the first half, we were phenomenal. I was pleased because there was some real flowing football.

“We’re not going to rest on our laurels. We’ve got Barnsley, who are absolutely on fire, on Wednesday. But if we can perform like we did today, it’ll be a tough challenge for them as well.”

Preston boss Alex Neil admitted his side’s lacklustre first-half display cost them dear at Adams Park.

Two of his three half-time introductions, Brad Potts and Anthony Gordon, came close to rescuing a point but Neil admitted his side deserved to leave with nothing.

“We lost the game in the first half,” he said. “They were hungrier than us, they moved the ball better, won more duels and tackles. We didn’t compete in the first half.

“We lacked any real fight to get into the game. We knew we would have to be physical and aggressive and we’d need to run. But we lacked all of those ingredients.

“We had two warnings [before the goal] and it’s so soft. If I’m being honest, I thought the more worrying signs were the lack of fight and competitiveness by us to try and win the game.

“I wouldn’t even say I’m angry or annoyed at the first half, just disappointed.”

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