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INTERVIEW: It's back to the need to find confidence

More from Gav Skelton on the Oldham game

24 October 2021

Caretaker manager Gav Skelton gave us his reaction to the home draw with Oldham shortly after full-time on Saturday afternoon.

Match Reports

MATCH REPORT: Oldham home

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“We’re disappointed, obviously,” he told us. “We threatened in the first half, at times, and I thought we’d potentially go on and win the game in the second half, but it was ifs, buts and maybes.

“We had some good opportunities, some crosses flashed across the box in the second half, but we haven’t worked their keeper enough to potentially win the game. It was edgy, nervy, scrappy, because of where both teams are in the league. It looked like that at times.”

“We just have to find that confidence from somewhere,” he added. “We did play some nice stuff and we got into some good areas, but we just need to have that final moment.

“The game got tight, and it kind of petered out into a 0-0 draw. I must say the crowd were really good, at times it was scrappy and not pretty, and they’re expecting us at half time to go on and storm the game.

“They stuck with us. I’m not just saying that. They tried to get behind us and it was a shame we couldn’t give them that lift. Players were disappointed but we have to look at the positives, it’s a clean sheet, two undefeated, and we moved up a place, but there’s no hiding, we need to play better and show more belief and confidence to go and win the game.”

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On the mood in the dressing afterwards, he commented: “Everybody is frustrated. I’m pleased with the attitude from the players, they want to win but at the same time they don’t want to lose.

“We could see them losing a little bit of belief in the second half and we just tried to take the shackles off with a couple of positive changes. We changed shape a couple of times to have positive impact, but we’re always going to disappointed with 0-0 at home.

“A clean sheet is always good, but we’re disappointed that we got into so many good areas only to then not test the keeper. That’s belief and confidence, and we didn’t show enough of that in ourselves to get the goal it needed.

“They’re working extremely hard in training to try and affect that, sometimes too hard. The amount of finishing drills, it’s maybe becoming too obsessed with it.

“You just want one of them to gamble that little bit earlier when balls are being whipped over with good quality. That opens it up, but it wasn’t to be today.”

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The start of the second period brought a number of changes in formation and personnel as the team looked to regain the momentum and upper hand they’d enjoyed through the first 45 minutes.

“We were hoping to get Jon Mellish in the game more and get him forward more,” he explained. “He’s a goal scorer, he wasn’t getting into the box as much.

“Zach was having less affect in the central areas, and we felt after Tuesday that he affected the game in wide left areas, so that was the reason for that.

“As the game went on we went back to 4-4-2 and wanted to be a little bit direct. They were sat in, and we were starting to play passes at the back, which was fine, but nerves and edge, because of the circumstances of both teams, you’re thinking one mistake and Oldham would be in.

“Then Oldham adapted and clogged it up in midfield, and we wanted Zach to get in areas where he might get back on the ball. On Tuesday he did it well, and when he had his really positive spell at Bolton, he played in that area, which we’ve looked at. He’s a good player, but as it went on it became scrappy and he had less impact.

“We wanted to try and get the ball forward more, have a more physical person up front with Tristan, and try and play on seconds in the final third. A couple of times we had crosses – it’s just that belief and confidence to get that final shot off, or go early to try and slide the ball in the net. 

“Basically with anything you do you’re looking to make positive changes. You hope someone comes on and impacts it to be the hero, get the goal and put us on the front-foot.

“It wasn’t to be but you can’t fault their effort, their attitude is excellent, they kept going and we have to stick together and keep that belief. If they keep going, whoever’s in charge, things will break their way.

“Once that happens and things do start to roll your way it’s amazing how results come.”

Having dominated for long periods at Newport, he agreed that the expectation that comes with playing at home could be a factor as some of the players struggle to find the confidence in their play.

 “We’ve just spoken about it in the dressing room,” he confirmed. “The difference between players at the top level and at the bottom, ability wise it’s very little.

“It’s the mental strength, that mental confidence to keep trying to do the right things and take responsibility. We keep repeating that message as we look to give them confidence and belief, hopefully one will do it and it’ll roll on from there.

“As for the crowd expecting their team to win, that’s nothing bad on them. They’re desperate for us to do well and I thought they were really, really good. There are times when you’re misplacing passes, there were no moans or groans.

“It comes back to my point. Good players deal with circumstances and pressure. We’re near the wrong and of the league, we’ve got to embrace it. The ones who hide are the ones who don’t go on and be successful.

“It is a long haul. We don’t want to be where we are, we have played well in flashes, but you have to put all that together, mental strength, physicality, how you approach everything, it’s the whole lot.

“The ones that don’t go hiding and stand up will be the ones who get us out of the trouble and have a good career here or elsewhere.”

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