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INTERVIEW: The main focus is now on Saturday

26 August 2016

Midfielder Jamie Devitt on taking penalties and maintaining focus

Midfielder Jamie Devitt was first up when it came to the penalty shoot-out at the iPro Stadium on Tuesday night and he admitted afterwards that it’s something he takes in his stride, having successfully bagged both of his kicks on what was a record equalling night of action.

“When I’ve taken penalties in the past I’ve always liked to go first,” he explained. “I hope I can get the team off to a good start, so I spoke to Trace [Simon Tracey] and told him I wanted to do it. 

“They had faith in me, and I always have faith in myself whenever I step up to take one. I think you have to be confident in those situations, pick a spot and go with it. I was just pleased that both of them went in when it came down to it. 

“There are a lot of things you have to get right because if the keeper does go the right way there has to be enough power on it to get it past him. All you do is back yourself and make sure you strike the ball well.”

Having successfully converted his first penalty, he admitted there was an element of surprise when it became apparent that he was going to have to do the whole thing again.

“I think it got to about penalty number eight and Jonesy [Mike Jones] was like – we’re going to have to go again here,” he said. “I was thinking there was no way it would keep going ... but it did!

“All you can do is prepare and concentrate and start to think about where you’re going to put it if it does come back round to you. It’s about staying in focus.”

As to whether he’d ever been through anything like it before, he said: “No, never. It was unbelievable. I’m still looking back at it with a bit of frustration because the end result wasn’t what we wanted it to be. 

“I think the frustration comes from the fact we played well but we haven’t gone through. I don’t think you could tell which team was from the Championship and which was from League Two, so that should give us a lot of confidence. 

“We had chances and I’m still kicking myself over the one I missed on Tuesday night. I should have put that one in the net but you can’t dwell on these things. You have to keep going and make sure you put the next one away.

“We need to take that level of team performance into the game against Barnet on Saturday and make sure we get a win. It doesn’t matter how that comes because what we can’t do is go there on Saturday, having played as well as we did at Derby, and not put a performance in. 

“The main focus now has to be on what we do on Saturday and I’m sure the gaffer will drill that into us between now and kick off. The good thing is that we’re genuinely playing some good football at the moment.”

On his own performances, he said: “I’m probably still a little bit rusty because I haven’t started as many games as I would have wanted to since the first day at Portsmouth. I was obviously frustrated with the sending off but it’s gone now. 

“I’m concentrating on doing enough to get a start and I was obviously pleased to get that the other night. Hopefully I’ve done enough to be in the manager’s thoughts ahead of Saturday. 

“What we have here is an excellent squad and you know that you need to be on top of your game every single day because there are two or three players for each position, and they’re top quality players as well. We all know that if you don’t produce week in and week out there’s somebody over your shoulder who is waiting to come into the team.

“There’s a lot of trust in what each other can do and if you have that, where you can trust someone with the ball even when he’s under pressure, then everyone starts to want it. You can see that we’re all enjoying our football and that’s making it harder for the gaffer in terms of the eleven he has to pick. I think that’s a good thing.”

And on the unbeaten start to the season, he said: “The shout before the Derby game was to ask if we could stay that way. We did it in the 90 minutes and in the extra time and I think everyone is feeling confident - players and fans alike. When you talk to people they all say the club is going in the right direction and that things are looking good.

“The fans have been absolutely brilliant. Everywhere we’ve gone they’ve been magnificent. They’ve backed us 100% and there has been a lot of travelling for them as well. Seeing how many there was at Derby gave the lads a big lift and we’re looking forward to seeing them again down at Barnet.”

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