We caught up with defender Peter Grant ahead of training on Tuesday to get his thoughts on the Tranmere game and on the final six games of the season.
“In the first half on Saturday we limited them to hardly any chances, but I think it was a big turning point in the game when they scored right on half time," he admitted. "I felt we were comfortable in the first half and we created some good chances going forward.
“We played a different shape, which was new to us, but I felt that we carried out what the manager and the staff wanted really well. It felt like they were struggling to come to terms with how to stop us. We moved the ball at a good tempo and from a defensive point of view we limited them until they scored right on half time.
“There are plenty of positives to take from the first half but it’s something we need to do over a longer period of the game. Like the manager said after the game, it’s those little moments in games that cost you at every level."
On conceding that goal just before half time, he commented: “When a goal comes at the time it did, particularly after we’d played so well, it was a sucker punch.
"It felt like we had the momentum, we’d hit the bar and we’d had a couple of other good chances. To go in 1-0 down was, naturally, a kick in the teeth. It was one of those where we had to refocus and try and go again in the second half by trying to continue to perform."
“It’s always going to knock any team who are on the sort of run we’re on when a second goal goes in," he confirmed. "On top of that, they were the home side and they had their supporters right behind them, which gives them a lift.
"Even when the second goal went in, we did try to keep playing and keep going forward. We didn’t let heads go down because we still believed we could get back into the game."
“We’re obviously disappointed with the result and the goals we conceded, but within any performance you have to look for the positives out of it if you can, as well as the stuff you need to improve on," he insisted. "We’ll be looking to try and build on the positives and eradicate the errors as much as possible.
“Especially in the English leagues, I think set pieces are a massive part of the game. I was watching a Championship game the other night, which finished 3-2, and every goal came from a set piece.
"That shows you how many goals come from those situations, and as a defender it’s when you need to switch on and do your job, as well as making sure everyone else is doing theirs.
“We do feel like we're playing some good football but you do need the rub of the green sometimes. Of course, we need those concentration levels from the first minute to the last, as the manager said at the weekend. We know the things we need to improve on, but we also know what we’ve been doing that’s been positive."
With the Blues still within touching distance of the play-off places, he said: “We’re still only three points outside the top seven and one win can change everything.
"We know it’s a massive game for us this weekend but we’re really looking forward to it. These are the games you’ve got to enjoy when you’re in a race for the play-offs. We’re very close to getting into those top seven places but it’s up to us when we go out there on a Saturday to go and produce.
“With the quality we’ve got in our squad and the game plan we’ve got that we can beat anyone in this league home or away. Even though I only came in a few months ago I’ve seen the quality we can produce, whether I’ve been playing or not. I genuinely believe that if we play at our best we can go and beat anyone in this league. That’s the mentality we’ve got to have."
And on his return to the side from injury, he explained: “The injury settled down quite quickly. I spoke to Dolly but in my mind I was always going to be touch and go for the Tranmere game, but I knew there was a massive possibility I would be available for the Bury game.
“I was out on the grass for two days in the week leading up to the game, without taking part in any training, but I didn’t have any reaction. Obviously when we were doing the last bit of the training session on Thursday, Danny [Grainger] pulled up with a slight injury.
“On the Thursday night I was going over things in my head and I thought if I could get through certain bits of the football parts of training on the Friday then I would speak to the manager, or Dolly, because at the end of the day I just want to try and help the team as much as possible.
"I’d watched training all week and I knew if I wasn’t available then the game plan that had been worked on all week would have had to be changed. If the manager needed me I wanted to put myself in contention to be available.
“I came through the first part of my individual training session on Friday morning fine, so I ended up taking part in the rest of the main session, and I felt good. The manager spoke to me and said he would give me the Saturday morning to decide as well, so I could see how I felt. I felt like I could give it a go, and I managed to play 96 minutes.
“After not training for a while I made sure I was putting in the work in the gym to make sure my fitness level would shine through if I got the chance to play. It’s obviously different in the gym compared to the pitch, but I wanted to do everything I could to be prepared.
"I gave it my everything on Saturday and I just wanted to help the team as much as I could. It was good to get through the game without really feeling anything and hopefully my fitness levels keep improving.
“There are moments in the game where you’ve got to be fully switched on but when I made an early block I wasn’t thinking about how my knee felt, or anything like that, it was just about concentrating on what was happening in the game.
"That’s a positive sign because it means I wasn’t worrying about it, and I just want to push on as we head towards the end of the season now."
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