Striker Jabo Ibehre on his return from injuryForward Jabo Ibehre returned to action following a four-game absence in explosive style as his first touch of the game against Notts County at the weekend – just 27 seconds after he had replaced Jamie Devitt – smashed into the roof of the net with keeper Adam Collin well beaten.
Speaking about it after the game, he said: “I think it was my first touch of the game, to be fair. It was a great flick by Jamie Proctor and I just gambled off it. It sat up invitingly and funnily enough we’d done a finishing session based on situations like it on Friday.
“Colin West had us hitting it on the bounce or on the volley and I caught one or two of them quite well during that as well. This was one of those where I just struck it and I knew I’d hit it well. It seemed to gather speed and it went through the keeper, so I was pleased.”
“It was a decent goal but I enjoy every goal I score,” he continued. “As long as they go in I’m happy. I just want to get as many as I can to help us to get promoted. It’s been really frustrating that I’ve had to miss out recently through injury, and particularly because it was a recurring thing.
“I was finding that I was just getting going again, and getting back into the team, and then it would happen again. There’s nothing worse than when you have to watch everyone, even though you do stay positive when you’re with them. I always say the right things but the truth is that I want to be in the action as much as possible.
“I hate being off to one side doing rehab and things like that. It does get you down and that’s why you’ve got to take every chance you get to enjoy the job you’re doing. I feel good now and I want to play as big a part as I can.”
On the chance which came very late in the game, he told us: “I was disappointed I didn’t finish that one off.
“I know if I keep getting in the right areas the chances will come but I do wish I’d put that one away. It was a good save from Adam [Collin] in the end.”
And the big forward revealed that the celebration following the goal held a very special meaning for the squad as they looked to send a message to former team mate Joe Thompson.
“Joe is a genuine, lovely guy and he’s been diagnosed with a form of cancer which he’s fought before,” he explained. “He’s been having a bit of treatment and a lot of the lads here are very close to him.
“It was just a little gesture but it was something we could do to show that we’re behind him and thinking about him. He’s a strong lad and we know he’ll beat it again.”
The manner of the defeat, with two goals conceded late in the game, was bound to have had an impact on the changing room but the popular striker insisted that the focus is still on a successful end to the campaign.
“Everyone is very deflated in that dressing room, to be honest with you,” he said. “We got ourselves ahead in the game and it seemed like we were going to see it out. Sometimes it’s the way it goes, but we’re all feeling flat right now.
“We’ll take the positives because we’re still in the play-off places, which is where we want to be come the end of the season. We need to dust ourselves off because we’ve got a game coming up quickly on Friday. Hopefully it will be back to winning ways then.
“A few strong words are always said in the dressing room after things like this happen but it’s just one of those things. It’s happened to us once or twice this season and the best thing to do with this amount of games left to go is to turn up on Friday and put it right.
“It’s obviously gutting because if we’d won we’d be five points clear in the play-off spots, so that does cheese you off a bit. There are five games to go and it’s up to us to cement this place.”
“We’ve got a great squad with good camaraderie and we’ve all stuck together, even through the times when we haven’t been winning games,” he commented. “As I say, some words are said when things don’t go well but we take that on board and it’s about saying and doing the right stuff at the right time now.
“When you think about it we can be too hard on ourselves because we’ve been in the top three or top seven all season and you don’t turn into a bad team with bad players overnight. You do go through stages where things don’t go your way but if you keep working hard it will change.
“You have to remain positive and there are some good heads in the dressing room who keep everyone going. We want to get promoted, we’re still in a great position and we’ve still got a chance to do that.”
When asked if he had sensed an nervous tension in the dressing room, he said: “I don’t really feel the nerves, if I’m honest, because I keep thinking that if we do the right things both personally and as a team we should be out there enjoying our football and the results will come off the back of it.
“Sometimes, when it is going against you, you’ve got to go back to find the kid that’s inside you and realise that you’re playing football, the game you love. On occasions if you’re just out there determined to enjoy what you’re doing you hit a ball and you end up wondering how it’s gone into the back of the net.
“Football is such a great game that things happen that are good and bad, and you can’t beat yourself up about it too much. With this game if you keep doing the right things, no matter what, eventually it will come good.”
“It’s a massive period of the season now but these big games are what you get paid for,” he concluded. “We’ve got it all to play for and that should give us the impetus to go and get the results we need. It would be really nice if we could do it for everyone. It’s a huge five games remaining because we want to be in the play-offs.
“The support from the fans is there and they’ve been fantastic for us. They travel all over to support us and they stay with us even when the results aren’t going our way. We appreciate that and it would be amazing if we could get to Wembley and do it for them. Fingers crossed everybody will stick by the team and we’ll do our best.”