GARETH Ainsworth hailed a superb victory for Wanderers against Dagenham and Redbridge, which helped reel a few more teams back into trouble.
Blues comfortably saw off the challenge of the ten man Daggers as second half goals from Steven Craig and Max Kretzschmar gave Ainsworth’s side a first win in seven and kept them three points ahead of the drop zone.
Results elsewhere meant Wanderers are now back to within three points of 15th placed Hartlepool – and Ainsworth is glad more teams are being threatened with getting sucked back into the relegation mix.
A couple of weeks ago it looked like a straight shoot-out between Blues, Portsmouth and Northampton for the second relegation spot, with Torquay now needing snookers if they’re to avoid a second drop into non-league football.
But a confidence-boosting victory against a side who harboured hopes of a late dash to the play-offs after an eight match unbeaten run mean things are now suddenly looking up again for Ainsworth.
He said: “It’s huge when you look at the fixtures and the results that have come in, with Portsmouth and Northampton both winning. It’s tightened the league up. People who are on 48 or 49 points are still looking over their shoulder, which is what we wanted.
“It’s a huge five games now and they are all winnable.
“I don’t know if my fingernails can take much more but I’m ready to get the squad ready for Newport next week and hopefully build on this result.”
Ainsworth added: “The boys were superb – every single player. I thought we could have had a couple more as well.”
The visitors were reduced to ten men before half time as defender Scott Doe reacted furiously to a Craig challenge on Daggers keeper Chris Lewington, and at the break Ainsworth had urged caution from his players.
He said: “We said you can’t now change your game. We’re still playing against 11 and I tried to convince the boys we’re still playing against 11 men, even though they know we’re not. I wanted the game plan to stay the same. At 11 v 11 we were still the better side. Ten v 11, as long as we kept doing the same things we were going to get the result.
“I wanted to keep pushing and keep driving. I didn’t want to over commit because you can do that and ten men can break on you.
“It’s not always easy playing against ten men. Bristol Rovers away, it took us a while to break them down, but it was great to see us get off to a great start in the second half.
“The game hinged a bit on the red card but it’s a game we’ll take and hopefully the luck’s turning in our favour just a touch.”
Ainsworth added: “The red card, the referee’s probably made the right decision to send their centre half off. He’s grabbed Stevie round the head – if he’s seen that, you can’t do that.
“I think Stevie was entitled to go for the ball. He’s running through, it’s a poor header from the centre half and it’s bouncing. It’s a 50:50. If Stevie’s caught the keeper it’s an accident, it’s nothing malicious.
“The reaction from the centre half is something the ref’s taken seriously and sent him off.”