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Interviews

INTERVIEW: It gets us off the mark

Joe Riley on a good goal and a great win

17 August 2021

Quite simply put, midfielder Joe Riley doesn’t do poor goals.

Match Reports

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His Stevenage goal was talked about for weeks after, as he drilled it into the roof of the net from the edge of the box, and his second strike for the club against Crawley was a lesson in having a go as a long-range effort made its past the keeper.

Fast forward to Saturday, at the County ground, and his rifled and controlled volley set the team on its way to their first three points of the season – a win they thoroughly enjoyed.

“Getting the win after playing well is massive,” he said. “It gets us off the mark and relieves a little bit of pressure. Our away record last season wasn’t the best so it’s nice for the lads to come away with three points.

“We can take that into our sights and crack on for the remaining part of the season. I think we managed the game really well, definitely better than we would have last season, towards the end part.

“The lads dug in and managed to get the win, and that’s without having too much stress in our minds. We were aware that the away record needed to be better, but you don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves because we know what we’re capable of doing.

“We managed to get the two goals and then we managed the game to what we knew we could do, and that means we leave with the points and feeling happy as we get ready for Tuesday.”

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So, what about the goal that set the tone?

“I was delighted with that,” he admitted. “I don’t know, it seems like I don’t really get the easy chances. Jon Mellish gets them.

“It’s good, all goals count, but I was fortunate enough to hit it nice and sweet and it managed to go in the bottom corner.

“I’ve learned a lot from the gaffer on things like that, to be fair, and he doesn’t want players turning and jinking on the edge of the box to try and get the shot off. He wants us to get on with it.

“Once the chance arrived I thought, you know what, I’m just going to hit this and see how it goes. Fortunately it found the bottom corner and it was good to help the team get in the lead.”

And as these things seem to happen, it turned to be one hack of a way to mark appearance number 50 for the club.

“It’s great, I was delighted about that, but it’s more about helping the team,” he insisted. “It’s not just me, it’s about all of the boys.

“Appearance 50 or not, goal or not, it’s about getting the three points to get us off the mark. We all dug in and we can take the confidence we get from this into Tuesday.”

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But having got the deserved goal, there was a slap in the face to follow as Swindon equalised with their first meaningful attack of the day.

“You can’t crumble when things go against you,” he told us. “The gaffer’s big on that as well, and he wants us to stick to the traits we know we’re good at.

“We got back into our shape, we defended well and we kept the structure of how we wanted to play. From that we kept creating chances, we stayed professional and we managed to put another one away, which helped us to get those points.

“It’s a great situation to have the fans back so they could see it with us, and credit to them for travelling this distance. We could hear them singing the whole game and celebrating in front of them is nice. They’ll have enjoyed this trip.”

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More credit goes to the hardworking playmaker who was set to miss out on the opening day until Zach Clough pulled out just 10 minutes before kick off.

“There’s always setbacks in football but we have a good squad and it’s good that we have people competing for every position,” he said. “When I did find out from the gaffer that I wasn’t starting there was disappointment, of course there was.

“Everyone wants to play, but it’s about taking it in your stride and preparing properly, whether you’re playing or not. When you do get a chance, and I was fortunate enough to end up playing that game, you have to make sure you’ve prepared correctly.

“Hopefully I can do enough to stay in the team now and do as well as I did last season. We have players who can bring competition right through the squad and that’s what you need to create a winning environment.

“We’ve set the standards and we didn’t get the win or the goals from the first two games, but we’ve shown that we’ve set our bar high.

“We’ll compete with every team and it’s important we move on to Tuesday and continue what we’re doing now.”

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