Captain Nick Anderton bagged his first goal of the season on Saturday afternoon as he set the tone with both his goal and his performance for what was another excellent display from the home side.
His free kick, the first of four net bulgers on the day, was his third goal for the club and it was the product of a training ground routine which could yet bamboozle more teams, with a number of outcomes of the move still to be trialled.
“I’ve been due a goal for so long after scoring two in ten last season, so it was nice to see it go in,” he said shortly after full time. “We do little set piece things where we try different things and I’ve had a couple of shots this season that have been blocked.
“Actually, Jon Mellish blocked one of mine just before half time and I swear that was going in!”
“Seeing something you’ve worked on come off is great,” he added. “I should have hit the target with one or two in the second half, but it is always good to score.
“It was a good set and all I do is try to hit clean through the ball and keep it on target. You never know what will happen when you do that, and fortunately for me that one ended up in the back of the net.”
With the Blues having dominated the game from the off, he also spoke about how pleasing it was to have protected the target so well, with keeper Paul Farman not having had a single shot to save.
“We’ve played well a lot at home and we’ve scored a lot of goals, but we always seem to concede to make it a bit tougher,” he commented. “That’s why it was good to get four goals, a clean sheet and a convincing win.
“We were on the front-foot from the beginning of the game and that’s because we knew we needed to be.
“It’s what we try to do in every game we play in and it worked well today. We were solid when they came at us and we nullified any threat they had. You could see that we’re enjoying playing our football.
“That’s eight wins from nine home games in the league now and it’s a great record. We’re obviously disappointed that we lost that one against Cheltenham.
“We’re doing well as a team and as a squad but we will keep taking every game as it comes. If we stay honest and play as hard as we can then hopefully the good results will keep coming.
“We’ve always believed in ourselves and that’s showing now. I think when I spoke after the gaffer gave me the armband I said as a squad we all felt like we had different things to prove individually and as a team. The way to prove that is to work hard and we’ll continue to do that.”
Undoubtedly one of the driving forces behind this good run is the team spirit which is so evident on and off the pitch.
“We’ve got a brilliant squad, we’re all together off the pitch and I think that makes a massive difference,” he explained. “To be successful we all need to be together and work towards the same goal.
“Danny Devine has been brilliant in the last few games, he covers so much ground. Dean [Furman] was brilliant last weekend at Bradford and Gime [Toure] hasn’t started the last few because Omari [Patrick] has come in and shown what he can do.
“Every player knows how we play and what we need to do, we all have to be on the front foot and work hard. If you don’t run hard you don’t get your opportunities and you don’t win the ball back.
“We’ve got plenty of leaders in the dressing room. Rhys [Bennett] has come in and you can see he’s played at a higher level and he’s a leader. Farms [Paul Farman] behind us is the same, Dean has got international experience and he’s a real leader.
“We’re a good group of lads but we know that to win, we have to work hard and do what we’re good at.”
That’s exactly how it went during the game, with the half time message echoing the need to keep things going just as they are.
“We told each other that we just had to keep it going,” he reiterated. “The gaffer spoke to us about his thoughts on the game and we knew we’d done well, but you can never just leave it there.
“This is professional competitive football and we’ve seen so many times this season that it can feel comfortable after a brilliant first half, but you’re still only half way through the game.
“We played Newport here and we were three up after 80 minutes, only for them to score two and nearly pull it back. Even in the Colchester game we managed to make it hard for ourselves, so you try to be professional about it, do everything properly and see it through.”
And having the twelfth man back in the stadium is no bad thing?
“It’s great to have the fans back with us and helping us to do all of this,” he said. “It just gives us that momentum even more.
“It was very strange playing without fans for so long and we had to get used to that. Having the fans back is excellent, especially when we’re scoring goals and attacking the way we are.
“It’s brilliant when it goes out for a throw or a corner, or little things like a good tackle and you can hear them. It’s what it’s all about.”
Having set the tone with his own level of energy and play, he confirmed that it was one of those days when everything felt right.
“You know what, I just enjoyed it,” he told us. “I was on the front-foot right from the start and Gav Skelton is always on at me to start the game quickly.
“I think I intercepted one and got Omari on his way, and I got a couple of crosses into the box in the first couple of minutes. Maybe that set the tone for everybody, but everyone was brilliant, man-of-the-match could have been anybody.
“Personally, I’m feeling better and I’ve played a lot better since the beginning of the season. I can still improve, as can everyone in the squad, but the goal is massive for me.
“It’s a long season and we’re only just over a third of the way through. We’ve played a lot of the top teams and lost a couple of those games, but we’ll just continue to work hard. We know teams might come here and set up differently against us, but we do that when we play certain teams.”
Next up for United is the Tuesday night home game against Mansfield.
“Before the game I was talking to a couple of lads and we were saying that it felt like we hadn’t played for a while with not having a midweek game,” he said. “As players you want to play Saturday-Tuesday, you want to play as many games as you can, and it’ll be good to be back under the lights and with the fans behind us again.
“Our aim is to put in another good performance and hopefully that will mean it’s another home win.”
And having recently become a father to baby Grace, he has the equally enjoyable task of balancing fatherhood with the needs of his day job.
“The night before a game I always sneak off into the spare room, and my girlfriend doesn’t mind about that so it’s not too bad!” he revealed. “I scored after doing that on Friday night so she’ll have to keep letting me do that.
“Grace is just brilliant. She’s just started moving her head a bit more and doing different things, so it’s great. She’s been excellent, she’s been sleeping as well as they can at that age, but I don’t want to jinx it!”
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