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INTERVIEW: I waited to see which way he would go

1 February 2017

Mark Gillespie on the Barnet game

We spoke to goalkeeper Mark Gillespie shortly after full time on Saturday following the 1-1 draw with Barnet at Brunton Park.

“We’re frustrated not to have got the victory,” he said. “We obviously got ourselves one-nil up in the first half. It was a good game, both sides were attacking and creating chances, but we thought we’d done enough.

“Things aren’t quite going our way in terms of getting three points at the moment. It was a questionable penalty, which we’ll have to see again, but the lad stuck it away and we’re bitterly disappointed.

"Having said that, I think it’s coming. In the three draws we’ve had we’ve been the better side, in my opinion, and we've been the team which has looked more likely to win the game. The main feeling we’ve all got at the moment is frustration.

“I’ve played a few games now so I know there are going to be spells like this throughout my career, individually and as a team. As a team we’re having that at the moment. We could easily be sat here on the back of three 2-0 wins, but it’s all ifs and buts. We’re frustrated but the vast majority of things we’ve been doing on the pitch for the last few weeks have been good."

“There’s a bit of frustration that we aren’t eight or nine points clear of the play-offs, but there has to be a realisation that we’re still third in the table," he continued. "We got ourselves into a position which meant if we did have a little blip we would still be in the top three.

“It’s three draws and you can look at it either way. We’ll obviously look at it positively and, like the manager has said, the wins are coming. We all believe that, we can feel it, and the tempo and the togetherness was back today. The crowd were fantastic and they were really pushing us on as well."

On the penalty incident which led to the equaliser, he said: “I was obviously close to the penalty incident. I was focusing on the ball so I didn’t really see what happened. Tom [Miller] is disappointed that he’s given it but it’s one of those - we’ve maybe got a few decisions like that this season.

“I was looking at Akinde’s penalties before the game so I knew he sometimes slows down and he waits for the keeper to move. There are a couple where he’s waited and then gone the other way, so instead of guessing I waited to see if I could react to the ball.

"That’s why I was a bit late in terms of getting my hand there. It wasn’t as if I guessed and I was already there to push it away, I’ve had to react later to the ball. Even though I managed to get a hand to it I couldn’t quite keep it out, which is frustrating, because I got close to it. He’s a decent penalty taker and he put enough on it to get it into the corner."

“Overall I was quite pleased with my performance," he continued. "The conditions made it difficult for a goalkeeper andwhen you come off your line you have to be aware of that and keep your concentration. They’re strong at putting crosses into the box so I knew I would have to deal with that.

"They had a few chances and I managed to spread myself twice against Akinde and keep it out. The cherry on top would have been the save from the penalty. I’m happy with how I’ve done but I’m disappointed not to get a clean sheet.

“We really had to dig in during the first half, they were getting a lot of crosses into the box and their wide man was dangerous. They had a lot of corners and as well as the big lad up front they’re a big side overall.

"We stood up to that and got through to half time. In the second half, I thought we dominated possession and they didn’t really look like scoring. It was going to be something like a soft penalty that went against us."

Speaking about the save from the free kick in the first half, he said: “The save from the free kick was a fairly comfortable save, but I managed to move my feet and turn it over the bar just to be safe rather than trying to catch it.

"It was something we’d worked on in training on Thursday. Simon [Tracey] analyses the game on a Saturday and if he sees anything we can work on he uses it as the base of the training for the week. I enjoy that because there’s a focus each week which comes from something which might have cropped up on the Saturday. That paid off today in terms of that save."

The final whistle brought another round of prolonged applause as the players left the pitch and the big keeper admitted that it was something the lads appreciated.

“We’re disappointed but I think the fans who were there will know we’re playing well and creating chances," he said. "It’s similar to the start of the season when wins weren’t quite happening for us, even though we were playing well for the majority of the games.

“We’ve got to take the positives. We got a point today and one or two teams around us got beat, so we’ll take that. It’s three unbeaten and we want to build on that going into a big month for us."

“It’s human nature that when you don’t win you do get a little bit anxious to try and get it," he admitted. "I think we’ve composed ourselves quite well over the last three games. We’ve tried to go back to basics and keep doing the right things.

"We’ve got a lot of good characters and good experience in the building already and if the manager can hopefully add a few that will give us a much needed boost. We’ll go and attack the second half of the season with a real desire to finish in the top three.

“It does give you a lift when you see new players come in. Gaz [Gary Liddle] has slotted in and looked the part. If we can get a couple more of his calibre it’s obviously going to help the team. We’re short on numbers but we’ve got some very good players in the building already, and whatever happens we’ll be ready for the run in."

 Looking ahead to the weekend, he said: “It will be nice to go to Leyton Orient and win, but we know it will be a difficult game. We won there last season so we’ve got good memories of that.

"The fixture list is interesting in February, but all the players are ready for it. Sometimes that helps, when you know it’s going to be tough game after tough game it can give you that momentum. It would be a fantastic time to go on a good run because it means you’re taking points off the teams around you."

And on his own contract situation, as he continues talks with the club, he said: “I’ll take that situation as it comes. I think the club are focusing on getting new players in at the moment so we’ll see where it goes after next week, because they've got bigger things to be doing at the moment.

"I’m enjoying my football, even though we haven’t been able to pick up the wins, because we’re at the right end of the table and we’re all focused on trying to get promotion.

“I’ve had some good conversations with Simon and the manager so I’m fairly relaxed about it. I’ve been here a long time and in the past when the contract situation has come up it hasn’t got sorted until the summer, so that’s something I’m quite comfortable with. If it is sorted before then that would be great, but we’ll just see how it goes.”

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