Keeper Mark Gillespie ahead of the FA Cup meeting with RochdaleAs United prepare to take on League One side Rochdale in the second round of this season’s FA Cup on Saturday keeper Mark Gillespie admitted that the competition is still important to the players, and something they very much look forward to.
“We’ve all grown up watching it and it’s always a privilege to be involved,” he said. “We know it helps the club financially if we go through so there’s a real motivation to do well.
“When you’re a lower league player they do become the big games. I think the league is the priority, because we all want to do as well as we can, but these games do stand out when you look back on your career.
“We’ll all be massively motivated to get into the third round because, and as we’ve seen in the last few years, you just don’t know what it can bring. It’s a tough game and they’re doing well, but we fancy our chances.
“We’re unbeaten at home for a reason and we want to carry it on. It’s got all the makings of a good game. They’re doing well but I’m sure we can match them.”
On the club’s current form, which has taken them to the top of the League Two pile, he said: “It’s nice to be at the top of the table. It’s a great feeling coming into work knowing we’re up there and doing things right.
“It’s just a case of everyone pulling in the same direction and continuing the form we’re on at the moment. It was fantastic to walk off the pitch on Saturday with the fans singing ‘we are top of the league’. We’ve got to take it all in, but at the same time nothing is done yet and there’s still a long way to go in the season.
“We aren’t getting too high when it’s going well and in the past we’ve had to make sure we didn’t get too low when things weren’t going our way. It is a good feeling and we’re enjoying it as it happens but the enjoyment comes from winning games and we just need to keep that going.”
Speaking about his own form, and the praise he’s been receiving from the manager and coaching staff, he commented: “It’s always nice to get praise and we do come in after each game and analyse things as much as we can.
“I think I’m doing well at the moment but there’s definitely room for improvement. We’ve conceded two goals in the last few games, so it’s something to work on. We want to concede fewer goals to give the strikers less of a challenge in terms of scoring three or more to win the game.
“That’s the next step, but personally I’m pretty happy with the way things are going, and I’ve just got to keep it going.”
The good form has, inevitably, brought with it links with scouts and potential moves – most notably a strong rumour about interest from Charlton earlier in the season – but he insisted that it isn’t something he pays too much attention to.
“I don’t think people talking about me being a target for anyone else distracts me at all,” he said. “I’ve just got to focus on the games I’m playing. I’m pretty good at taking everything out of it and just focusing on the football.
“It’s nice to hear things said about you in private, or in public, but anything can happen in football so I just try and keep my feet on the ground. I’ll keep working as hard as I can and keep my performances at a standard the fans, the staff and my fellow players are happy with.
“As I said, I love playing here. I’m very settled and I love coming in every day and playing for this club. If we were to go up this season it would be a fantastic feeling for me and for my family, who have been coming to watch the games since I was playing in the youth team. I’m really enjoying it and we’re just looking to continue onto the next game.”