Chairboys boss defends Craig

Gareth Ainsworth: Looking to the positives

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Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth defended striker Steven Craig after he saw red early on in the club's 1-0 derby defeat to Oxford.

Wanderers were left facing an uphill task when Craig was sent off for violent conduct after just 20 minutes for jumping into Johnny Mullins.

Yet the Chairboys held out for most of the game and could have won it through Gary Doherty, only for Nicky Wroe to fire home a winner three minutes from time.

"Stevie is gutted," Ainsworth said. "He doesn't believe it was a sending-off and, while I think the referee has a case, I don't believe Stevie Craig could mean to go and hit someone on purpose - he wouldn't risk that for his team-mates.

"He is experienced and the biggest discipline he is going to get is losing his place in the team because once someone comes in they'll try and keep the shirt. And that hurts, believe me.

"It was sickening, but then I turned around and thought 'what a performance'. I'm proud to put my name to that performance. Although, it was a local derby and we got beat and that hurts, but the fans can see that this club is fighting and the passion is alive. Every single man on that pitch was superb.

"With 10 men it was always going to be difficult, but we fought right to the bitter end and it's taken a wonder goal to beat us."

Oxford manager Chris Wilder admitted his side had been given a helping hand by Craig's early sending-off.

"It's not our fault their lad's come and tried to smash Johnny Mullins in the face. It was absolutely blatant and I have no change of opinion on that," said Wilder.

"In a league derby we know they are going to be wound up, they are going to be enthusiastic. Sometimes players step over the line and let their manager down and their player has done that and made it doubly difficult for their team to get a result.

"Credit to Gareth and his team they were stubborn, they sat deep, they made it really difficult for us but it's a vital win.