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INTERVIEW: We've shown we can handle the pressure

11 May 2017

Luke Joyce on awards, momentum and handling the occasion

Midfielder Luke Joyce picked up the Goal of the Season and Peter Jackson the Jeweller Man of the Match awards at the end-of-season dinner last Sunday and he admitted that it had left him feeling quite pleased when we caught up with him at the event.

“It was nice to get a couple of awards,” he said. “It made a change from Nicky [Adams] getting up on the stage all of the time.

“I was chuffed to bits to get the Goal of the Season award. I don’t score many so to pick that one up was nice. Every time I see it, it makes me feel good and puts a smile on my face. I just wish I could maybe do it again and one during the next couple of games would be nice.

“It’s something I know I need to add to my game and the gaffer tells me that day in, day out. We do finishing sessions which I’m sure are specially designed for me to get shots on goal. It’s something I need to and want to improve and I would love it if I could sneak a goal or two before the season is over.”
 
“To get the Man of the Match award was brilliant as well. I’m really pleased with both of them. I think it was six times I got it during this season but when I was getting presented they reminded everyone that I hadn’t had one for two years, which was a bit embarrassing!

“I think it was maybe 50 or 60 games without one, but never mind! To get those six was lovely and the prize in itself is a lovely watch. I’ve got a few at home and I’ve still got a few family members who keep nagging me for them.”

With over 50 league and cup appearance to his name already this season he also spoke about his pride in having played such a big part on the pitch this season.

“I’ve been used to playing a lot of games over the last six or seven seasons and if I hadn’t started 40-50 games this season I would have been disappointed,” he commented. “That isn’t because I’m being arrogant, that’s just the standards I set for myself. I want to play every week and do a job for the team.

“I wasn’t in that starting line up at Portsmouth and I knew it would be a fight. The gaffer let me know that at the end of last season, so I was prepared for it. I gave myself the best chance I could by making sure I was as fit as possible coming back into pre-season. I just gave it a right go.

“Until January we were in great form as a team and personally I felt like I was doing well. We did have a wobble but we’re back on track now. We’re five games unbeaten and we’re going into the play-offs full of confidence.

“The important thing is that we’ve got momentum. We’ve got into the play-offs on the last day and it feels like a real achievement. The likes of Exeter and Luton have known for the last week or so, and we’ve beaten Exeter twice now, so we’ve maybe got a psychological edge on them.
 
“I think the manner we’ve beaten them in the two games already this season is important because we’ve came from behind both times. We’ve shown we can handle the pressure in a big game against them last week and they’ll know the play-off games will also be high pressure. If we can start the game bright on Sunday and get at them from the first minute we can hopefully capitalise on that.”

Looking back to last Saturday’s victory, he said: “It was brilliant when Proc’s [Jamie Proctor] header hit the back of the net. I’d already come off at that point and it was brilliant on the bench. It’s almost worse because you can’t do anything to affect it, you can’t help anybody and you’ve just got to stand and watch.

“The lads showed great character again to come from behind because they’re a decent team. We were chuffed to bits and we celebrated in the changing room, but we know we’ve still got a big job to do.”

“We’ve just got to look forward to the game on Sunday because this is what we wanted,” he added. “Everyone wants to be involved in big games. It’s live on Sky Sports so a lot of people will be watching, there will be a lot of exposure for the lads and hopefully we’ll have a massive crowd.

“It would be nice to be in League One next season. You’ve seen the teams who have already been promoted from our league and there are some big clubs in that division. Wigan are obviously in there as well now. I haven’t played against them since I left and that would be brilliant.

“There are a lot of north-west clubs in there as well so there would be some good away days for the fans with a lot less distance to travel. That’s the aim, that’s where we want to be and hopefully we can get there.”

On his previous play-off experiences, he told us: “I’ve been there with Accrington so hopefully I can bring a bit of experience and know-how this time round. With them we had home advantage in the second leg but we went to Stevenage and got beat 2-0, when it could easily have been more.

“The gaffer said after the Exeter game that we’ve got to play the game and not the occasion and I think I’ve got that bit of experience from having done it before. We know if we win the next three games we’re in League One, after playing at Wembley, and it will put a promotion on our CVs. That’s what we all want.

“I was here when we were champions of League Two and it was an unbelievable experience, but probably one I didn’t soak up and I can’t remember enough of. To have played the amount of games that I have this season and be a big part of it would be a fantastic experience.”

And on the season as a whole, he said: “I’ve got a couple of awards from Sunday and a lot of nice words from the fans. I know I’ve made mistakes this season and there have been periods where I’ve been disappointed, because I know I could have put in better performances.

“On the whole it’s been a solid season and I just really hope, for myself and the lads, that we can finish it off on a real high for the fans. If we can get promoted it would be unbelievable.”

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