29 January 2022

Gareth Ainsworth slams ‘disgraceful’ chants aimed at Adebayo Akinfenwa

29 January 2022

MK Dons boss Liam Manning admitted their 1-0 victory over Wycombe had been tarnished and Chairboys manager Gareth Ainsworth labelled the situation ‘disgraceful’ after a Buckinghamshire derby marred by Dons supporters aiming offensive chants at Adebayo Akinfenwa.

Midway through the first half, Ainsworth came on to the pitch to talk to referee Robert Lewis as away supporters consistently sung a vile chant towards former AFC Wimbledon striker Akinfenwa, with the official briefly stopping the game.

A tannoy announcement in the ground, message on the big screen and tweet from the MK Dons Twitter account all implored fans not to engage in abusive chanting while Wanderers sub Akinfenwa – who had been warming up on the sidelines – angrily confronted the fans who were taunting him.

A handful of Dons players also tried to get the supporters to stop singing and at least one fan was ultimately ejected by stewards.

Manning was unequivocal in his condemnation.

He said: “Of course it’s really disappointing for all of us. That kind of behaviour doesn’t represent us as a club. It’s a real shame and it tarnishes our victory a bit.

“It definitely leaves a sour taste in the mouth but it’s straight after the game and it’s a club matter now.

“We can only offer our apologies to Adebayo. That kind of thing doesn’t represent me, the players, or the staff at this club.”

Wycombe boss Ainsworth was infuriated by the abuse and urged something to be done to prevent it happening again.

He said: “Ade is a great guy and for him to have to listen and put up with that is disgraceful. It shouldn’t happen.

“No player deserves to receive the abuse he did. We’re obviously not happy about it. As a manager, you have to protect your players. It’s not on.

“Adebayo Akinfenwa is an incredible human being – I was really disappointed at the chanting towards him by a minority.

“There were children in the crowd and this just isn’t right. He then stayed out for an hour afterwards signing autographs. Our fans love and adore him.

“Chants like that have no place in football and hopefully something can be done.”

While the game was undoubtedly overshadowed by the situation involving Akinfenwa, the Dons ultimately earned a vital victory over their local and promotion rivals thanks to Scott Twine’s 13th-minute goal.

Twine’s 13th of the season came when he slammed home a rebound after David Stockdale had parried Theo Corbeanu’s initial strike.

Wycombe had chances to level as Joe Jacobson headed inches wide from Garath McCleary’s cross and Brandon Hanlan’s looping drive towards the top corner was superbly saved by Jamie Cumming.

Dons almost made it 2-0 just before the hour mark as Stockdale brilliantly palmed Corbeanu’s diving header onto the crossbar while late on at the other end, Sam Vokes headed inches over as the Chairboys failed to snatch a point.

“In the second half we showed a real resilience,” added Manning, whose side leapfrogged Wycombe to fourth in the League One table.

“It was a real moment of quality that won it from Twiney but overall, I thought we showed huge maturity – we did what we needed to do.

“We’ve always shown good resilience and the ability to bounce back, whether that’s within a game or after a game. What also helps is being close-knit, a team, and being all-in.

“Everyone within the group has respect for one another and they are enjoying themselves.”

Wycombe have now suffered two defeats on the spin to slip down the League One table but Ainsworth isn’t pushing the panic button just yet.

“We’ve got time off now to put things right,” he insisted, with their next game not coming until February 8.

“Fans might think the wheels have come off but last time we had a blip we hit back and went top of the league.

“It wasn’t a game of great chances. They took theirs and we didn’t trouble their keeper enough. No qualms with the result; we dust ourselves off and go again.”

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