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INTERVIEW: I feel like I've got 'the juice' again

2 May 2017

Jabo Ibehre on repaying the faith shown and on scoring goals

Striker Jabo Ibehre made it five goals in five consecutive games when he bagged the equaliser against Newport County on Saturday and he admitted afterwards that the eventual victory had meant a lot to the dressing room as the club found itself right back in the play-off mix.

Nominated for the Sky Bet Player of the Month award following his exploits in April he also insisted that there is still more to come as the team continues to regain its early season form.

“The win means everything, it really does,” he said. “Our form has definitely picked up in recent games but we’ve been gutted and left feeling dejected by last minute goals or errors and such like. To get the win in this one was just fantastic.

“I’d guess you could say it’s a big relief as well and it’s even better to do it on our own ground at the last home game of the season. It gives us good impetus for the big one at Exeter away next week.”

“It was one of those days where we were well on top and then we found ourselves behind again, which is unbelievable,” he continued. “The real positive is that if we play like that we’ll be creating chances and we’ll be dangerous. If we go into next week with the same spirit, belief and passion we’ll come out on the right side, I’m sure about that.

“Good performances and results are coming now and that’s what you want, to be fair. We had a run of games where we got draws, but we weren’t getting beat, and we’re also showing resilience by getting points when we’ve been behind.

“There are good signs there even though we’d be happier if we’d had it all sorted in as easy a way as possible. Football just doesn’t go like that but we’re confident and we’ve given ourselves a good chance.”

His own return to what can only be described as blistering form has coincided with his return to the starting line up following a niggling injury and a short rehab period.

“I owed the manager massively because he’s been patient with me as I’ve dealt with some little injuries, and then he’s waited for me to get going again,” he explained. “I had it in mind while I was working with Lee [Fearn] on my rehab that I wanted to give the manager something back.

“He’s been fantastic with the boys and given us everything he possibly can, so the least we can do is get in the play-offs for him, for sure. I’m happy with where I am at the moment. I’ve built on things, I feel like I’ve got the juice again and I’m just going to keep going.

“I didn’t really feel myself at all in the first half on Saturday but once I got going I was happy. When the ball dropped to me for the goal I just knew. When you’re in this groove you just want the ball all the time. I’m feeling like everything I hit is going to go in. It’s a perfect time to be in that sort of form and long may it continue.”

His strike was followed just two minutes later by the match winner from Nicky Adams which took the Blues back up to sixth spot and a coveted place in the play-off mix with just one game left to play.

“It’s back in our hands and it’s going to go down to the wire,” he said. “I’ve got a good mate at Wycombe so we’ve been ribbing each other about the situation and it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out. It’s down to us and that’s where we want it to be.

“All we have to make sure is that we go to Exeter and do it right. We don’t want to get overawed by the occasion so we’ll prepare as we always do. It’s a big one and, you never know, it could be them we face in the play-offs.

“As I say, we’ve hit form because we’ve shown our character to come through a tough patch. You’ll get moments in a season where you’ve just got to dig deep, particularly when you haven’t had the results you may have wanted. As long as you keep belief in what you’re doing it will definitely turn, as it has for us. It may take longer than you anticipate but it will definitely turn out for the good if you keep doing the right stuff.

“I said it earlier, we’d obviously have preferred to have had it wrapped up a few weeks ago but it was important to stay involved. We’ve got dangerous players all over the pitch and we’ve got good players coming back at the right time.

“I think you could sense the win coming on Saturday because some of the football we played was back to its best again. It’s about results now and how we get them doesn’t matter. The lads want it and the desire is there. It’s back to how we were in that we don’t know when we’re beat. We just keep going, even when we’re behind, and that’s the attitude you need.”

A goal at Exeter would see Ibehre equal a club scoring record of having notched in six consecutive outings, putting him alongside Hugh Fletcher, Jimmy McConnell, Hugh McIlmoyle and, more recently, Danny Grainger [in October/November this season] who also achieved the feat.

“The form I’m in is all about timing,” he commented. “We’ll see what I can do next week but as long as we get over the line I’ll be grateful. If I can stay clear of injury I’ll be fine and hopefully the goals will keep coming.”

And with his contract up at the end of the campaign we wondered if he’d given any thought to where he sees his future once the last ball of this season has been kicked.

He said: “First and foremost we need to get the season done and all of that will take care of itself, I’m sure.”

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