United boss Steven Pressley gave us his thoughts on the 1-0 home victory over Oldham at his post-match press conference on Saturday evening.
When asked if he felt it was nice to be talking about a Brunton Park win, he said: “It’s very nice and I actually thought we started the game really well. The opening 15-20 minutes we started with a real purpose and intent and we got the breakthrough with a terrific goal from Fela.
“That’s his fifth of the season, which is a really good return, and we’re delighted with him. I’m sure Scunthorpe will be watching closely and that’s always the problem. When I came here in January we lost the two main strikers in that window and it was very difficult to replace them.
“For a lot of my next three or four months we played without a striker, and that’s a concern. The problem is if he does well, Scunthorpe may insist he comes back. I think if you speak to the player he would like to stay here. He really enjoys it here, I have a really strong relationship with him and I’ve been delighted with his contribution thus far.
“Apart from hide him in the closet, there’s nothing much I can do about it, but we have to try. That’s going to be a main focus for us. I think there’s still more to come from him, but that’s certainly going to be a focus, to try and retain him for as long as we possibly can. It’s certainly our job to try and keep him here.”
“It was a great finish, but I then thought for next 25 minutes we showed a little bit of nervousness in our performance,” he added. “We weren’t aggressive enough in our press, in fact I thought we were laboured in our press. That’s disappointing because we worked really hard on that on Thursday.
“When you want to press the game high you have to not only be prepared to press the first one, but you have to go after the second one. We didn’t do that enough and then, behind that, we didn’t come up quick enough. That’s something we spoke about at half time because we needed more.”
“The really pleasing thing is that today was probably – I know at the Forest Green game we defended particularly well – but it was a different type of game at times,” he continued. “I thought it was probably our best defensive performance of the season where we gave up virtually no opportunities, and that was pleasing.
“A clean sheet gives you a big chance of winning, and I said that [to the group] after the game. No complaints again about our work ethic, but the important thing today was that we did much better in both boxes and that was vital to the win.
“I thought we showed a good mentality, and even in the last seconds when you’re defending a corner kick and it’s really going to decide the outcome of the game, we showed again a good steel about us.
“I’m really pleased for the group because there’s a nervousness in the stadium. There always is when the supporters are so desperate for us to win and that’s understandable. It was a really important three points for us because it moves us up several places and it keeps us in touch with the teams above us.”
Noticeable at full time was the way the players and staff came together for a huddle before heading off to thank the fans for their patience and support.
“I think you can see how much the group is together after the game, the huddle, all of those things,” he said. “I had some friends down from St Mirren this week, who were in to see us for two days, and they commented what an unbelievable atmosphere we’ve got in this club with the staff, players, everything in the way we’re working.
“I know people outside don’t see that, but we’ve got an amazing group that wants to do really well. But, I do think we’ve got a group where I think there’s a lot of improvement to come. I said last week that I thought our position in the league reflected how we’ve been doing, and it’s up to us, not just me, the players, everybody, to keep improving.
“Today was a good step forward in terms of mentality, because I spoke last week about having the desire and mentality to defend your box and we did that to great effect.”
And with the only goal of the game coming with just three minutes on the clock, it was important that the defensive side of the game remained solid, as it did, with Oldham registering just one shot on target through the 90 minutes.
“Getting things right defensively was very important,” he agreed. “The disappointing thing is that in a couple of the games where we have gone in front we haven’t managed to win, but I thought today at all times we looked pretty much in control in terms of not losing goals.
“Not in terms of the game, because I thought for 20 minutes of the first half we were far from in control, but we never gave up many opportunities and that was a pleasing factor.
“And it was good to celebrate with the fans at the end. We know they just want us to do well, the anxiousness only comes from them wanting us to do well. We’re all sitting there nervous because we all want the result, and that’s natural in football supporters. We’re trying to find a way to repay them.”
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