The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Josh Mur­ray

DUR­ING David Moyes’ doomed ten­ure at Manch­ester United, Rio Fer­di­nand fa­mously crit­i­cised the late­ness of the Scots­man’s team an­nounce­ments – but it is un­likely any Red Devil ex­pe­ri­enced the fate that be­fell Steven Craig last Satur­day.

The Wy­combe front­man scored the first of his side’s two goals in a bat­tling draw at Southend United, clin­i­cally di­vert­ing Sam Wood’s mishit vol­ley from close range shortly be­fore the half-hour mark.

The goal was his first for the club since late Novem­ber, but its sig­nif­i­cance took on a new level when it emerged that Craig had only been told he was play­ing five min­utes be­fore kick-off.


Such a late call-up may have fazed a lesser striker, but the ex­pe­ri­enced 34year-old ad­mits his last-minute se­lec­tion was not too much of a shock.

“The gaffer (Gareth Ainsworth) men­tioned to me on the Fri­day that Fred Onyed­inma was strug­gling a bit so I should be ready, although his name was on the team-sheet on the Satur­day,” the Scot­tish Premier­ship vet­eran said.

“But he wasn’t feel­ing per­fect be­fore the game, so as­sis­tant manager Richard Dob­son told me to get my stuff on. I was half pre­pared for it, so it didn’t af­fect me too much.

“If you’re called up like that it is more a phys­i­cal thing than a men­tal thing, be­cause you don’t re­ally have time to think about the game – you’re just out there and get­ting on with it.

“I am ex­pe­ri­enced enough to know you al­ways have to be ready, and for­tu­nately I was able to go and get a goal that helped us to a re­ally good point at the week­end.

“It felt great to be back amongst the goals, es­pe­cially against a very strong and or­gan­ised side like Southend. To come away from that match with a draw af­ter the way the game went shows the char­ac­ter we have in the chang­ing room.”

That char­ac­ter has played its part in Wy­combe’s sur­prise bid for pro­mo­tion to League One, with Ainsworth’s men – third be­fore the week­end – hav­ing oc­cu­pied an au­to­matic spot for much of the sea­son.

And af­ter the Wan­der­ers boss re­cently sug­gested any­thing other than a place in the third tier for next sea­son would be a fail­ure, Craig ad­mits there is only one aim at Adams Park.

“I think if we don’t fin­ish in the au­to­matic pro­mo­tion places it would be hugely dis­ap­point­ing for us as a group,” he said.

“We have been knock­ing on the door of top spot all sea­son, so it would be great to fin­ish there. The best as­pect for us is that it is all in our hands.”

Wy­combe’s for­tunes at present are in stark con­trast to last sea­son, when a last­day es­cape was nec­es­sary for the Chair­boys to re­main a Foot­ball League side.

“The trans­for­ma­tion in 12 months at the club has been amaz­ing. I think the sup­port­ers, es­pe­cially, re­alise we have come a long way in that time,” con­tin­ued the exFalkirk and Ross County hit­man.

“The gaffer did his homework over the sum­mer and re­cruited re­ally smartly. We may have a pretty small squad and bud­get com­pared to some other clubs, but there is a re­ally tight-knit feel­ing in the group.”

PIC­TURE: Martin Dal­ton

BRIGHT LAD: Wy­combe’s Steven Craig af­ter his goal in the 2-2 draw at Southend. Inset: Cel­e­brat­ing at Torquay with boss Gareth Ainsworth last year

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