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MANAGER: It was our most professional performance in my time here

Steven Pressley with his thoughts on the Lincoln victory

20 April 2019

Manager Steven Pressley gave us his reaction to the home victory over Lincoln City after the full-time whistle had blown on Friday afternoon.

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“It was a really terrific performance,” he said. “It was a performance of real concentration and professionalism. It was our most controlled and professional display in my time here.

“Playing against a team which has had a man sent off can sometimes be difficult, but we stretched the game and we were careful in possession. We experienced it a couple of weeks ago when we went down to 10 men and Bury found it difficult to play against us.

“It can often reinvigorate the opposition, and give them a cause, but we managed to stay in control of the game having started it very well. We never really came under any pressure and the players deserve great credit for the way they went about things.”

“Patience was needed as we waited for the goal, and that was a big strike for Mike Jones,” he continued. “I think that was his first goal in about 3,000 games, so I’m pleased for him as well.

“He’s performed well since he came into the side and, beside Kelvin Etuhu, they gave us a real base to work from. Mike was a real miss last weekend so it was good to have him back.

“We also have to mention Jamie Devitt because both he and Kelvin had only trained for one day during the week. They really wanted to put themselves out there for the side, so they deserve enormous credit for that.”

“It was a risk in putting them in, but it was a calculated risk and one they both wanted to take,” he explained. “In my opinion it was a risk worth taking.

“Dolly has worked with both of them and Jamie spoke to me and he said that he wanted to put the team before himself for this game. He’s a big influence on this team, he’s a match winner, and he’s shown us the type of commitment we require if we’re going to be a success.

“I’m disappointed for him that it looks like the injury has happened again, but the team benefitted with the result because he set a great example. I hope it isn’t too bad for him and, if we can do the business and get into the play-offs, then maybe he’ll be there to play his part in it.

“Now the group of players should want to deliver that for Dev, because he was willing to risk himself to help them at a time when big players were needed.”

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On the decision to go with a 4-2-3-1 formation, he told us: “I’d watched Lincoln and I felt it was a formation which would give us stability. The players selected were always going to look to get forward, and we knew from last week that physicality wasn’t the only thing we were missing.

“The lads really applied themselves and, even though the tactical elements are important, the way the players go about their business is what makes the difference. The players worked hard, they defended as a unit, and the clean sheet came because of that.

“We didn’t give up many opportunities but, yet again, our keeper made a huge save at a very important time. That shows that every single player contributed to the win, and they worked together really well to get it.”

One surprise in the line-up was with right back Gary Miller being switched to the opposite defensive flank.

“I felt it was right to put Gary Miller on the left for the defensive aspects of what was needed,” he told us. “But, and as we dominated the game more, I felt we needed more deliveries from that wing.

“That’s the only reason we made the change. I know how difficult it can be to play on your wrong side, but Gary did it really well. Macaulay Gillesphey is left-footed and he was going to be able to deliver crosses more naturally for us, and that’s why he came on.

“Peter Grant was unlucky to miss out. With the way the sub rules work, we need one of our academy players on the bench to allow us to have seven. That was Jarrad Branthwaite, and then we felt we needed a left back in there just in case, so that’s why he was left out.”

With three games left to go the need for consistency is something which the manager has spoken about the players as they now prepare for Monday’s game against Grimsby.

“We’ve won two of the last three, but we have to acknowledge that last week was a hugely disappointing performance,” he said. “We simply can’t allow that to happen again. We’ve given ourselves an opportunity to make the play-offs and we’ve done that by winning an absolute must-win game. It was a really important day for us.

“Between now and Monday we must make sure we get our recovery right because we have to go and do the same again. If we find consistency in these three games then we’ll make it, so that has to be our aim. We must not slip back to the levels of the Stevenage performance.

“Like I keep saying, talk tactics and formations all you want, but it only works if the players implement it properly. I would have accepted a draw in this game based on the intensity and application I saw, but I’m really pleased for the players that they turned it into a win.”

On the recall for defender Anthony Gerrard, he said: “In hindsight we probably missed him last week, but his response has been excellent and he put in a colossus of a performance.

“He controlled the back four, but I thought every player, to a man, put everything into it. There’s no doubt he’s a big player for us and he did what we expect him to do, which was pleasing.”

With the match winning goal coming so late in the game, he commented: “I was delighted, as you might think. I was actually considering one more change at the time.

“I’d just spoken to both Tommy [Wright] and Paul [Murray] about it in the technical area because although we were getting deliveries from wide, we didn’t have the size of player to get on the end of them.

“The goal meant the change wasn’t required, and it was then about us doing our jobs properly and making sure we didn’t concede, which we managed to see through. The only disappointment was that we didn’t make things easier for ourselves by finishing off one of the chances we made in that last 15 minutes or so.”

And his final word was on the fantastic support shown by the Blue Army.

“The atmosphere was amazing, it was electric,” he said. “The way the supporters went about things was superb and it again shows you why this club can be a special club.

“It’s something else I’ve said before. If these fans see their team putting everything into the performance they’ll get behind them.”

Click HERE to watch an interview with Steven Pressley on iFollow United now.

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