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INTERVIEW: Ready to jump in with the crowd

27 November 2015

Alex Gilliead on his goal against Luton Town

We spoke to forward Alex Gilliead about his latest experience with the England U20s and his goal against Luton Town on Tuesday evening.

"My latest trip away with England was a bit of a weird one," he admitted. "We were over in France when the terror attacks happened so we didn't play the second game. That was the game I was supposed to be starting, but I did come on for half an hour in the first game. I got an assist in that game even though we got beat 4-3.

"It's another cap and it's another building block in place for my experience. I think there were about 6,000 there for the first game, so it was a good crowd. It had a real competitive feel and there was a bit of rivalry between the teams."

On the night the Paris attacks happened, he said: "We had three of us in my room and we were actually watching the England match. We were looking on Twitter so we saw that something had happened in Paris. We were a couple of hours away but it was still a bit scary.

"When we woke up the next day we thought our game wouldn't be on, but we were then told it was. About half an hour later it was confirmed that it wouldn't be going ahead. 

"As soon as it was cancelled we were just trying to get home as soon as possible. My mam was over there as well so I was ringing her just to make sure she was alright, but thankfully we all got home safe." 

Speaking about his return to Carlisle for the home game against Portsmouth, he said: "That was a difficult game for me. We didn't have much of the ball so I couldn't really do much, but I just tried to dig in and grind it out. I did a lot of running and I was really tired on Saturday night. It was great to see Danny [Grainger] pop up with an unbelievable goal in the last minute.

"It was good to play against them because they're a big club. We did well to get the point. It was a bit of a relief when the ball went in because towards the end of the game we had a lot more of the chances.

"The manager told us they're probably the best team in the league so we knew we weren't going to have as much of the ball. When we got it we had to make sure we hurt them. I think we could have had a few more goals if the luck had been on our side."

"When I came on as a sub against Luton I just thought 'if I can get a goal, anything can happen'," he told us. "I knew when I was coming off the bench that the next goal was vital. If they got it they would probably win, but if it went to us we could get a draw.

"When I scored I thought it would end up as a draw. When I set Jabo [Ibehre] up for his goal I thought we just needed to hold on for the draw. Then Derek obviously got the ball and I was looking at him and thinking - 'Derek, what are you doing?!' 

"When he came inside and scored I think I ran off as if it was my goal ... I was actually ready to jump in with the crowd! When I got home I said to my family that it's probably the best game I've ever played in." 

On his goal, bagged just three minutes after coming off the bench, he said: "Westy [Colin West] has been on at me about getting in at the back post recently so I was pleased to get into the right position. I saw Jabo in the box, and he was shouting for it, but I just thought no, I'm going to have a go. 

"I turned and hit it and it was one of those where I've put it in and we somehow ended up winning the game. When I scored I didn't celebrate or anything because I picked the ball up so we could try and get the equaliser. 

"If we'd got a point after being 3-1 down it would have been unreal. When we got the fourth goal our fans behind the goal went wild and I did the same. We were all running around like maniacs."

"As I say, it was a great night for me and it was what I needed. The way I play, I just want to get the ball and run at people. The manager tells me I've got to pick and choose when I do it because it won't work if I do it all the time. Once I've done it once in a game I get a feel for the ball, and the player I'm up against, and I'm just eager to do it again."

And the Newcastle youngster admitted that his loan move to Brunton Park is something else he needed as he continues to get a feel for the first team environment. 

"I love it here," he confirmed. "I'm more than happy to be staying until the end of the season because I'm really enjoying the environment. The changing room is a happy place to be. I just want to carry on and help the team push on to hopefully a higher position in the league."

"The good thing is that none of us are guaranteed to start every game. We've got good players on the bench and good players who are missing out. The gaffer has brought in very good players and he has to pick the team he thinks will work. You've just got to accept his decisions then try and do well when you get on the pitch, like I did on Tuesday.

"You have to put your all in during every training session. The gaffer knows what everyone can do, but you could do something in training and catch his eye and that might make his mind up on whether you're starting the next game. You've always got to be on the ball and ready to step up when he says you're playing.

"I was talking to Mark Gillespie on the way over this morning [Thursday] and we were saying we would have taken seven points from nine before the Portsmouth game last weekend. If we can get the three points on Saturday it will have been a great week for us." 

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