Last weekend’s victory heaped more positivity on top of what has been a very good pre-season at the club, with the manner of the win just as important as the win itself.
“If I’m going to be really picky we were excellent in the first 30 minutes, and after that it was a different type of performance,” Paul Simpson told us. “We had to give up a lot of possession but we looked solid and I was really pleased with the way we defended as a team.
“Again, me being really picky, I want us to be better on the ball and I want us to be a bit more ruthless on our transitions when we get opportunities to go and get overloads.
“We’ve been working on that in training over the last few weeks because we know there’s still room for improvement, but we are delighted with the start we’ve had.”
“I think what that first game has shown us is that it confirms the lads are fit enough to start the season,” he added. “I thought the fitness levels were excellent.
“For the first time since I’ve been here we had both wing backs covering the most distance. That’s what they have to do, we’ve talked to them about that, because it’s not an easy position to play.
“I want them at the far post when we’re attacking and I expect them to be defending the back post when the opposition has the ball.
“It’s a tough role for them, but we also had a midfield player who covered over 12km, so they’re getting really good distances.
“I don’t hang my hat on stats, the players know that, but it doesn't half make a difference if you can achieve it and you’ve got it in your locker.
“The thing it shows me is that they’re all fit and now we need to keep building on it, get them even fitter and stronger and more resilient so that they can do repeated runs and sprints. All of that will make us an even better team.”
The possession stats suggested that Crawley had the best of it, but for anyone who saw the game that became a demonstration of just how skewed things can be if particular stats become the focus of attention.
“That’s the thing about stats, if you concentrate on one statistic it can paint a picture that isn’t quite the correct reflection.
“The territory where Crawley held the ball didn’t really worry me. We saw that they didn’t have an attempt on target and that’s got to be a positive.
“It shows that we’ve defended well enough and there were a couple of scary moments in the latter part of the first half, where shots went wide, but the only really time I felt that we were threatened was the set play near the end when the lad headed it past the post.
“Tomas looked as calm as anything, to be fair, and I said to him when I did my review on Monday that he was more relaxed than I was because it looked really close to me.
“There were good things overall from the game and we’ve just got to keep building on it.”
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