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INTERVIEW: I don’t even really know how to describe the second goal!

Nathan Thomas on his hat-trick against Forest Green

31 January 2020

Winger Nathan Thomas bagged his first ever career hat-trick on Tuesday night - and he might just have secured the goal of the season award into the bargain with a stunner of a first half strike which turned left, did a lap of the stadium and then smashed into the top corner moments after leaving his boot.

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Speaking about his three-goal haul this week, he said: “I was obviously over the moon to get a hat-trick. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do because I’ve scored two goals a few times. Even in those games where I’ve scored two, it doesn’t really feel like I then had a third chance to get another goal.

"It was a bit surreal when it finally happened. I got the lads to sign the ball after the game and it was good to share it with them. The most important thing was to get back-to-back wins because it’s been a long time since we did that in the league."

One of the goal was a rather clinical spot-kick finish, which all but confirmed the points for the away side early in the second half.

“I’ve been practising penalties all season because I knew I was up the top of the list in terms of who takes them," he explained. "There was no chance Bridgey [Jack Bridge] was taking that one off me!

"I wanted to make sure I was ready if I did get one, and I’ve taken a few against Adam [Collin] and Louis [Gray] in training, and they both always say as long as there’s plenty of power on them the keepers will always find it difficult, so that’s what I tried to do.

“The first goal was one of those where it was a good cross, but it just sort of hit me and went in, if I’m being honest. I don’t even really know how to describe the second one. It felt like it went in slow motion. It looked like it was going wide 90% of the way, but then it decided to bend in at the last minute and thankfully it nestled into the top corner.

“It looked like it was going so wide that I think the keeper had just decided to leave it and let it go out, and it was really late when it decided to turn in. It’s definitely one of the best I’ve scored. I scored a chip against Grimsby for Hartlepool which was pretty good, and that one actually won the goal of the decade for Hartlepool a few weeks ago.

“When I first stepped onto the ball I told JJ [Josh Kayode] to get out of the way because I actually thought we were going to run into each other. Once I stepped past him my first touch took it out in front of me, so I just thought I may as well have a go. It was nice to see it fly in."

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His trio of strikes meant that five of his nine goals so far this season have come against the same team.

“It's unbelievable isn't it," he commented. "I got one there last season in a match where I probably should have scored a hat-trick as well. I had a few chances in that game last year, so it was nice to do it on Tuesday night.

"I don’t know what it is about going there, as a player you always have different places where you feel like you’re always going to score, and Forest Green is just one of those for me.

"I go into those games expecting to score because I know I’ve played well and scored there in the past. It’s weird really, I seem to get more chances when I play them and more things seem to land in the right places for me, but it's still hard to explain."

The win was another in a succession of good performances which have lifted spirits in recent weeks. 

“It feels like we’ve grown as a team and come a long way in the past few weeks," he agreed. "We’ve obviously had two good results and it would be really good to go and back it up against Mansfield on Saturday, and make it three on the bounce.

“Everything seems to be falling into place a little bit now. It's been difficult this season at times but we’ve stuck together as a group. If you stick together the bad times always turn good and you pick up results.

"We’ve probably deserved these results a bit earlier in the season, but now we seem to be getting rewarded for the hard work we’re putting in.

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“The gaffer has had a while to get to know what we’re all about now and the new lads who have come in have stepped in and made the team better. We’ve got our own way of playing and going about games now and it seems to be working for us. We need to make sure we go on a run and get some consistent good performances.

“We know Mansfield will be a tough game but three wins in a week would be fantastic. We’ll go there with the same mentality we went to Forest Green with, we’ll be going there to win the game. We’ll try and do the same things as we did on Tuesday night and we’ll hopefully get the same outcome."

If selected at Mansfield on Saturday, it will see the wide man make his 200th career appearance.

“I knew I was somewhere near 200 appearances, but I didn’t know it would be on Saturday if I get selected," he said. "If you’d have asked me five or six years ago if I’d ever make it to 200 appearances I probably would have laughed at you.

"I’ve had quite a few clubs in that time, but it’s nice to get there and there’s plenty left in the tank!"


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