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INTERVIEW: It's a new game

17 May 2017

Gary Liddle ahead of the play-off semi-final second leg

We spoke to defender Gary Liddle ahead of training on Tuesday afternoon to get his thoughts on both legs of the play-off semi-final against Exeter.

“Sunday was a bit of a whirlwind type of game,” he admitted. “Emotions went from one end to the other all night. We obviously went a goal down pretty early but managed to claw one back, but we went into half time a goal down which was hard to take.

“We’ve found ourselves in that situation a few times this season and we knew we would score again. With the way the game panned out we made a great comeback in the end and we’ve given ourselves a great chance going into the second leg."

“As soon as they got the corner at the end of the first half I knew there were only a couple of seconds left," he said. "I told Proc [Jamie Proctor] that we just needed to head it away, which he did, but you can’t think that it’s done. As it turned out they obviously scored with more or less the last kick of the half, which was exactly the same as it was down there last week.

“It was a bit of déjà vu and we obviously went on to concede again, but we managed to turn it round in the end. We might actually be a bit unfortunate to not be going into the second leg 4-3 up.

“I don’t think there was any point, even at 3-1 down, where any of us thought that the game was gone.

"The manager made a quick change of shape and brought Raynesey [Michael Raynes] off, and some people were probably thinking ‘what is he doing’ because there was another game left. The last thing you want to do is concede another couple of goals and go down to Exeter with an even bigger deficit.

“The changes worked out, we took a couple of defensive players off and put a couple of attack minded players on, and we managed to score two quickfire goals which gave us another foothold in the game. We really had them on the ropes at that point but we were glad to come off the pitch with the scores level and everything to play for."

“When we went 3-1 down it deflated everyone, but as soon as that John O'Sullivan goal went in, whether it was a bit of magic or a bit of a fluke, it seemed to reignite everyone," he commented. "The atmosphere the fans created spurred us on to go and get that third goal.

“It put them under massive pressure with the noise the fans were generating and we can’t thank them enough for that. They’ve been terrific this season and I know we’ll take a good following down on Thursday, and we’ll need them again."

“I don’t think we have an advantage having won there so recently," he told us "It’s a different game, so we can’t take too much from that, or from the fact that we’ve come back against them a couple of times this season.

"It’s a new game with everything to play for, but we’ll go there full of confidence. We know we can score goals, it’s making sure we can keep them out at the other end as well. If we can do that I’m sure we’ll get a positive result."

On making it into the play-offs with a win at Exeter on the final day, he said: “The season has gone and by hook or by crook we got to where we wanted to be in the end. The game on Sunday was a fantastic advert for League Two football and it shows what the league is like.

"It’s exciting for the fans to watch and the people on TV - hopefully it will be another exciting game on Thursday and we come out on the right side of it.

“I don’t think there are any more nerves ahead of the game as there would be for a standard league game. I’m sure there will be a few butterflies, from fans and everyone else rather than from us players, but there will be a few players who might get a few nerves. Once a ball is kicked it’s just another game of football.

"The manager has stressed that to us - it’s just another game. There is a lot more at stake obviously, but once the referee blows his whistle it’s all out war and we’ll be doing everything we can to make sure we come out on top."

On the travel plans, which will see the first team fly down to Exeter on Wednesday afternoon, he said: “Flying down on Wednesday will massively help us.

"When we went down there last week on the coach I think it took something like eight hours, which was a nightmare. Flying down is the best preparation possible.

"We’ll train before we go and I don’t think the flight takes much longer than an hour. It shows that the club are doing everything they can to help us try and get into the league above. That’s certainly what we’ll be striving for on Thursday night.”

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