Defender George Tanner broke his trend of only having scored senior goals against sides he’d played for on Saturday when he bagged the dramatic winner – his third strike of the season – with almost the last kick of the game at the Breyer Group Stadium.
The 3-2 victory means that the Blues will finish either ninth or tenth in League Two, following what has been a season like no other, with the 21-year-old having settled well in Cumbria despite the turmoil, with 41 appearances in all competitions to his name.
With all three of his goals having been struck cleanly this campaign, we spoke to him about this particular matchwinner shortly after the game was over on Saturday evening.
“It was quite a good goal, to be fair,” he agreed. “I sort of started the move and I managed to finish it off at the other end, so I’m quite pleased about that.
“It was good to see it go in, but I was just so tired from running forward that I couldn’t really be bothered with celebrating. All I could think to do was throw my arms up.
“It’s a great feeling and I don’t think we’ve had many last-minute winners this season. Things like this are what football is about and it’s just a shame there were no fans here to celebrate it with us.”
As the pass came in from Lewi Alessandra deep into time added on there was still plenty to do, but was it in his mind as he set himself to shoot that the opportunity was there for him to grab the headlines?
“To be honest, no,” he confessed. “I was just running forward for the counter-attack and then Lewi played the ball to me. I thought I’d have a crack at it, so I wasn’t thinking about too much else really.
“It had been a crazy kind of game, end-to-end in the first half and it had mistakes, missed penalties and all sorts. We stuck in there and I thought we dominated the second half. We deserved to win it in the end.
“I have no idea why it was that type of game, it was a bit of carnage and sometimes that just happens. They wanted to go over the top of us, we made a couple of errors, but we got our heads round that and it ended up with us pushing for the win.”
Speaking more about the slap in the face of having conceded so early, he commented: “It was just a mistake, they happen, so we have to forget about it and get on with playing the way we want to play.
“When we do that we know we can win the game, and that’s what happened. There are some great characters in that dressing room and we try to stick in there if things aren’t going our way. We’re very determined, we never give up, and we managed to win this one, so that’s good for all of us.”
Having narrowly missed out on the play-off places, he admitted that there is a sense of disappointment at not having achieved what the dressing room has worked so hard for through lockdowns, adverse weather conditions and the small matter of the pandemic.
“It is disappointing, but we just want to finish as high up the league as we can and prove that we should be up there to those who maybe have a few doubts,” he explained. “This win has helped that and hopefully we’ll do that next week as well so we can finish on a high.
“I think with the disappointment of drawing at Cheltenham and seeing them celebrate their promotion, that kind of thing spurs us on for next year. We want to be the ones who are in that position so all of this might turn out to be a good thing.
“It might give us that drive to go on next year, which is what we want to do. Winning like this definitely helps us to get over any disappointment there is.
“We know we haven’t won a game for a while so we want this to help us to go again next week against Walsall. Doing that will set us up nicely for next season.
“It’s about finishing as high as we can. We want another good performance and we want to finish strong. The run of fixtures we’ve had has been tough, so it has been difficult, but the fitness levels from everyone have been really good, and that’s shown with us being able to keep going and win on Saturday.
“It has been very tiring playing two games a week because you don’t get much rest. Credit to the lads because the preparation for games has been really good and we’ve all been very professional. That’s helped us to be ready when we need to be.”
Looking ahead to next season, and with his deal set until next summer, he admitted that it’s good not to have that to think about with just one last game left to play.
“It is relaxing because it’s good to be part of this team,” he said. “I’m just really happy to be here. I think the gaffer wants to keep everyone together because we’ve got a good squad.
“We just want to build on this season and properly push for promotion. It’s about improving on what we’ve done this year. It’s a good core of players and it’s still quite a young group.
“For a lot of us it’s been our first full season in professional football and we feel like we can only keep getting better. Hopefully next season will be a really good one.”
Picking up on that theme, we wondered how much he’d learned through that run of 40 plus appearance, his highest number to date.
“I’ve learned a lot,” he confirmed. “It’s just trying to be consistent and making sure I perform well in every game, without dropping off too much.
“I know I need to hit the same levels every week because there are so many games in what is such a long season. I haven’t done a full season before so I’ve learned that it’s about trying to perform every single week and keep improving.
“That’s the main thing for me, I just want to keep improving as a player. I’ve played a lot of games this season and I want to keep pushing myself.
“I’ve managed to score a few and get some assists this season, in comparison to last year, so I want to do even more of that next season.”
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