Wy­combe hero Sam Wood tar­gets hap­pier times for the Chair­boys

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Stu­art Clarke

SAM WOOD knows more than most what could have hap­pened to this Wy­combe side had they fallen out of the Foot­ball League.

Wood spent his for­ma­tive years in Non-League with Cray Wan­der­ers and then Brom­ley be­fore his big break with Brent­ford in 2008.

It’s usu­ally no place for tal­ented but un­der­de­vel­oped teenagers, with which this cur­rent Chair­boys crop is filled to the brim with.

Wood is now an ex­pe­ri­enced mem­ber of the squad at 27 and is a wise head for the likes of young­sters Max Kret­zschmar and Ju­nior Mo­rias.

Wood scored the first goal in Wy­combe’s 3-0 win at Torquay to keep them in the Foot­ball League at the ex­pense of Bris­tol Rovers in a dra­matic fi­nal day.

And he says the naivety of some in Wan­der­ers’ ranks ac­tu­ally helped when the pres­sure reached its cli­max.

“A lot of the play­ers in our squad prob­a­bly didn’t know what a rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle felt like,” he said.

“There are a few older play­ers who all know what it meant to stay in the league and they re­alised how much sur­vival meant. “But we were all in it to­gether – no-one was just play­ing for them­selves or a new con­tract. Gareth (Ainsworth, the man­ager) wouldn’t let that hap­pen, we are a team and he said that from the day he took over.

“It’s Gareth’s first full sea­son as a man­ager and it’s a year he will never for­get. With his strong ties to Wy­combe it meant a lot to him to keep us up. We had a few things go wrong in the sea­son but we over­came them to­gether.

“I worked re­ally hard to be­come a pro­fes­sional so to stay up and be play­ing league foot­ball next year is mas­sive. Ev­ery­one wants to play league foot­ball for as long as they can.”

Pres­sure

The magic of the fi­nal day of the sea­son wasn’t wasted on Wood, who says that he en­joyed it as much as the fans. Wy­combe went into the game know­ing their fate was out of their hands, but Rovers’ loss to Mans­field en­sured sur­vival by virtue of goal dif­fer­ence.

And Wood, whose con­tract ex­pires this sum­mer, ad­mits cel­e­brat­ing with the 1,000 fans that made the 370-mile round trip to the West Coun­try was one of the high­lights of his ca­reer.

“Through the sec­ond half we could gather from the fans what the scores were,” he added.

“In in­jury time we found out that Bris­tol Rovers had lost so we played the last two min­utes with big smiles on our faces.

“The plan was to get an early goal so the news would feed through to Bris­tol Rovers and Northamp­ton, which would put pres­sure on them.

“We could tell what the other re­sults were around the league through the chants of the fans. The Torquay fans chanted we were go­ing down with them, then our fans came back at them say­ing they were go­ing down with Bris­tol, so we know Mans­field had scored.

“The fans were fan­tas­tic, trav­el­ling all the way down when sur­vival was out of our hands.

“They were just hop­ing and be­liev­ing that we could stay up so we were all to­gether on that day and that showed with the cel­e­bra­tions on the full­time whis­tle.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

DREAM START: Sam Wood af­ter set­ting Wy­combe on their way to the cru­cial win at Torquay. In­set: Boss Gareth Ainsworth

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