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INTERVIEW: I don't think things like this ever sink in

21 September 2015

Newcastle United loanee Alex Gilliead on his first senior appearance

Striker Alex Gilliead spoke to us about his first senior appearance in the 2-2 away draw at York City on Saturday.

“It’s obviously good to get my first start out of the way,” he said. “I’m disappointed that we threw the three points away because I thought we were playing well. 

“When they went down to ten men we just needed to switch on and take control of the game. I’m happy overall but it’s a bit disappointing for the team.”

“I found out I was playing on Friday,” he told us. “We went through the shape and the way we wanted to play and I was buzzing when I was told. It’s my first game in senior football so it’s a big thing. My mam and everyone were here to watch and they were all pleased. To get and assist – and I’ll try to claim the second one as an assist as well – is good to be involved with. 

“It was my cousin’s birthday on Friday night so I went over to see him. My family were all there and they were telling me to make sure I scored a goal and played well. I’ve been around football for a while now but this is obviously the biggest game I’ve ever been involved with. You’ve just got to enjoy it and try to do what you normally do. I did get a bit nervous but it was all in a good way.”

“My first touch on the day was really important to me,” he explained. “As it was coming to me I was thinking that I didn’t want to get clattered! I was ok once I settled down. The lads are all brilliant anyway and they helped me through it. Once I got going I thought I did well.

“Playing games like this is what it’s all about. When I walked out onto the pitch and saw how many fans we’d brought, that was amazing. They all started clapping and they did the same when I was substituted. Things like that are overwhelming, to be honest. 

“You can see how much the way we play and the results we get matters to people. I’ve said before that under-21 football is great if you win but, on the other side, if you lose it doesn’t really matter. Doing well on the pitch and doing your bit to send our fans home happy means a lot, to be honest.”

The opportunity to shoot appeared at least twice for the lively young forward during the build up to United’s first goal, so we asked him what was going through his mind as he approached the edge of the box.

“I did look at one point and I had a think about putting it in the top corner,” he admitted. “As I was running forward I saw Tom [Miller] on the right hand side. The idea was to slide him in so that I might get it back. He hit it and the rest is history now!

“With the second goal I was a bit more selfish. I cut inside and hit it and it bounced off a few players. Troy [Archibald-Henville] put it in so I am definitely claiming that one as an assist as well.
“The manager, Colin West and Lee Dykes had all told me since I got here to run at people as soon as I got the ball. They felt defenders would be scared of my pace and that it would be difficult to deal with if I could get going. I got on the turn for the first goal and I’m really pleased to have had a part in it.”

“I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet that I’ve just made my debut,” he said. “I think when I get home and talk about it with my mam, dad and granddad that it’ll start to feel more real. I don’t think things like this ever fully sink in but, as I said earlier, it’s when you see the fans behind the goal. That’s what makes it special. I loved it.

“Hopefully people have seen what I can do and I’ll be able to help to put a few more smiles on faces this season.”

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