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INTERVIEW: It does mean a lot to score

Omari Patrick on opening his account for the season

21 September 2020

Striker Omari Patrick got off the mark on Saturday with an instinctive volley from just outside the area which set his side off on the road towards a comfortable victory over visitors Southend United.

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And it was revealed during the post-match interviews that his positioning on the edge of the box hadn’t come around by accident, with the forward having been told to lurk there during the end-of-week training sessions.

“We actually worked on it in training, and it was falling to me then, so I knew if it happened during the game that I just needed to do what I’d been doing in the sessions,” he explained. “It’s always pleasing when something you work on comes off in a match.

“It came from having a bit of a conversation with the gaffer when he told me he wanted me to be outside the box on corners, because I obviously naturally want to be in the middle of things trying to score. Me scoring like I did today just proved him right I suppose!”

The smile on his face and the punch of the air when the ball bulged the net showed exactly how much it had meant to him to bag his first goal of the campaign, his third in total for the Blues.

“The first goal is so important,” he said. “In the first couple of games we were going in at half time already two down and we didn’t want that to happen today, so that might have been why we started like we did.

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“Getting the first goal settled us down and I think it was exactly what we needed. It’s a massive relief when you score. It’s good to get off the mark early in the season and there’s hopefully many more to come.

“I was just talking to JJ Kayode about it being déjà vu from our last home game, we both scored in that game against Newport and my header took a deflection as well.

“It does mean a lot to score. The team the gaffer has put together this year all want to do so well for each other and the club.

“I think that’s why it’s taken us a couple of games to get going, we all want to do so well that we’ve been a little bit tense. Now that we’ve got the first win I think we can build on it.”

On the feeling in the group after the weekend win, he told us: “I think it does take a bit of the pressure off us.

“The league season has just started but we’d still lost three games before this one, and we want to win every week. To do it in front of some fans was really good and we’ve just got to build from here now.

“I think there was a bit of pressure on us at the start of the game, especially with the fans being back and us wanting to do so well. We relaxed once we got ourselves into the game more, and the first goal obviously helps with that.

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“Once we’d scored the pressure is off a little bit, and we know we just need to go and do what we know we can. It wasn’t our best performance and if you ask anyone in the group, we all know we’ve got so much more to give.

“It’s exciting to know that we can play like that without really being happy with ourselves and still win the game. I’m not really happy with the way I played, but we’ve got the three points and I’ve got a goal, and I just want to keep building.”

“To be honest, even when I came off the pitch I was saying that although I’d scored I didn’t feel like I’d played really well,” he revealed. “There’s definitely room for improvement in everybody’s performances.

“Even after losing the last two games, the dressing room was still raring to go and excited for games, but this win will give us confidence. We’ll all keep pushing each other to do well because we know what we’re all capable of.

“Getting the goal will help me personally but the best part of the day was having the fans here. Hearing them before kick-off, it gives you that buzz again.

“My first game without having fans last week, we missed them a lot. I definitely think it gave us a boost. 

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“It just shows how important they are to us when we’re playing. We need them, as well as ourselves wanting to do well, it definitely gives us that extra boost.”

With the three forwards who started the game now all off the mark it gave a sense of a developing relationship and, with Gav Reilly and Lewis Alessandra also chomping at the bit, there’s real competition for places in the forward areas.

“It was the first time the three of us had played together in a proper game,” Omari told us. “We all know what we can do, we see it in training, and it’s just that transformation into a game.

“Today was a lot better than it was last week. We will keep getting used to playing with each other, gelling, and wasn’t Gime superb! He raises the bar for me and JJ.

“JJ was excellent as well. Gime’s performance and him getting man of the match, it raises us, when we see each other do well as a front three it definitely boosts us. 

“The one criticism is that we could have scored more goals. As soon as we get that, it will build and build and build. We’ll just keep getting better. We all want each other to score and do well.

“It’s a really good partnership we have up there, and at the back with Aaron [Hayden] and Rod [McDonald], they’re getting used to playing with each other as well. Things are coming together.

Having missed pre-season with a niggling injury, he admitted that it’s a case of working hard to get back to full fitness through what is about to be a punishing schedule of fixtures.

“I missed all the pre-season games, as you know, but I feel alright,” he said. “I feel like I need to get my level back up there to match fitness but, and like the gaffer says, give me 60 minutes and then people like Ethan and other people can come on and help out the team.

“At the moment I feel ok, slowly getting back into it.”

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