Keeper Dan Hanford on the clean sheet at York
Keeper Dan Hanford spoke to us about the clean sheet from this weekend’s away draw at York ahead of the Monday afternoon training session.
“The clean sheet is massive for me, as a keeper,” he said. “It gives me something else as I look to do my job to stay in the team. It was something we all needed from what was a tough game.
“The pitch wasn’t the best but we coped with it. We didn’t take our chances when they came along but I thought we defended well as a unit. The clearance off the line was a great example of that. There was a hunger there from all of us to keep that clean sheet. It was superb to see how much we wanted to take at least a point away from a game like that.”
“I had a little laugh when I first saw the condition of the playing surface,” he told us. “Without being disrespectful, I’ve been on Sunday League pitches better than that. That’s something both teams have to deal with and I’m sure people saw that it was difficult for the keepers. It was like a sand box. However, you’ve just got to get on with it and try your best.
“I was pleased with my performance but I wouldn’t say it felt like one of those days which was going to be my day. I went through the usual process of preparing for the game by training hard. Now we have more keepers at the club the fight is there for a starting place, so you have to stay on top of your game.
“I’m in the team at the moment and that’s what I want. I’ve been working on my handling of crosses, and kicking, and I think I’m getting there. I try to get to a position where it comes naturally once I go into a game.
“They put a lot of high balls into the box but I managed to come and claim them. That takes a lot of pressure off the team and they know they can trust me. They’ve been seeing it in training and it’s good to take it into the 90 minutes on a match day.”
“It was good having the fans right behind me,” he commented. “To be honest, I just try and focus on what’s going on during the game, but you can have a bit of a laugh with them during the warm up.
“They were fantastic for us again at the weekend. They made a lot of noise and it’s great for us to see.”
On his second half save from a fierce Coulson volley, he said: “I was pleased with that one. It’s a good emotion to have when you make a save like that.
“That one was right in front of their fans and I think they thought they’d scored. Danny [Grainger] made a small error and that shows you need to be alert at all times. I was there to help him out but that’s what we do as a team.
“You can’t dwell on it. The save had been made and I had to think about the corner, so I could deal with that. You don’t have time to relax or think about what you’ve just done, it’s on to the next one and sort it out.
“I helped with that one, but the lads helped me out with those clearances off the line. That was because everybody was trying to put their bodies in front of the ball. It was a massive scrap and it was good to see everyone doing the job in the way they did. Sean [O’Hanlon] was the last one on the line and he saved us with the clearance he made.”
“The resilience we showed on Saturday was massive,” he said. “We've shown the whole team can do it in some games and we just need to put it together into a run. I think everybody now realises the position we're in and how important it is to get away from it.
“That seems to have raised everybody another 10%. We've had meetings with the gaffer, and the rest of the players, so we all know what we need to do to get out of it. In this league you can get a couple of good results and you shoot up the table.
“If we'd won that game against Shrewsbury I think we’d have been 15th in the league, so it just shows that one game can make a huge difference. Northampton is just another game. They’ve been on a decent run but it's difficult to keep that going in this league. It's a chance for us to put a stop to it for them.”
And on the next ten games, he said: “I've been in a relegation battle at Hereford so I know what it's like. We're taking it much more seriously than we seemed to down there and everyone is focused on what we have to do.
“It isn't nice coming into training and knowing the position we're in, because there’s a lot of pressure, but everyone in the changing room can deal with it. Right now it's about dealing with it in the right way. You have to move on from the bad performances and try and improve for the next game. I honestly don't think we will be relegated.
“The dressing room is definitely good enough to do the job. You look at our team on paper, and compare it to others in the division, and we're the better side. We've got some good experienced players in there, and Billy [Paynter] and Gary [Dicker] coming back is helping us even more. I'm confident there's going to be no problem with relegation and I think we'll continue our run with three points against Northampton tomorrow.”
“It's great to see Mark [Gillespie] back out on the grass,” he concluded. “We all get on well and since Raff [Raphael Spiegel] has joined us the competition has been really good.
“I felt hard done by when I was dropped, when he first came in, but it made me want to fight for my place back even harder. Now Mark is back there's even more competition, and although we're friends we're still fighting for the same place. That creates a great work ethic between us all.”
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