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INTERVIEW: This is a massive boost for us

Omari Patrick on goals and putting things right

28 February 2022

Striker Omari Patrick put the lid on what had been a tough week in the perfect way on Saturday afternoon when he netted the only goal of the game against Leyton Orient, sending the fans in the stands wild as he made his way towards them for the post-net bulging celebrations.

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Speaking about the win and the strike after the game, he said: “It’s a big relief, more importantly it’s a big relief for the team.

“Obviously what happened last weekend happened, but it was always about the team and doing it for them.

“We wanted the result, we got it, and I’m happy that I could be part of it and get the goal to make it happen.

“All the lads in the dressing room are buzzing, the gaffer’s buzzing, the staff are buzzing, so hopefully we can carry this on.”

But it had been a horrible week, with an apology for his part in a n incident in town followed by the departure of the manager who had brought him back to the club.

“I’m definitely doing what I’m doing for Keith as well, even though he isn’t here anymore,” he commented. “He was a big part of sorting my head out and making sure I forgot about last weekend, and that the job could get carried on.

“When the new gaffer came in he said the same thing to me, that it was done and gone, and the most important thig was that I did it right in games because the team needs me.

“It’s important for me to say that I needed them to help get me through it. I said in my statement, it was a written apology, that hopefully I could follow it on with actions. I’m just happy that I could do that.”

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It goes without saying that the best way to do that was with a match winner, which did indeed become the case.

“It’s a beautiful feeling anyway, when you score, but because I’ve done what I said I was going to do, it was just ten times better for me,” he revealed. “To see the smiles on the faces of the fans made me happy and I know I need to give even more, so I’ll continue to do so.

“It was definitely a release because I know as a team that when we go a goal up we hardly get a result turned on us. We had that feeling when we went ahead.

“Obviously with what happened last week I wanted to redeem myself and make it up to the fans and everybody in the club. I wanted to do that so much, so it was really good.

“Look, this was a very important game. We knew that in the dressing room, but the gaffer did a great job of calming us down and not making it feel like it was a big game.

“He wanted us to focus on us, not on our opponents, because with the way things are it’s only us who can get us out of this situation. The fans can help us, just like they did, but we’re the only ones who can do it out on the pitch.”

But we had to ask about the departure of Keith Millen, the an who had made the return to Carlisle possible.

“It is football but at the end of the day we didn’t do the job enough for him, and that’s on us,” he told us. “I wouldn’t say it’s on him or anybody else in our staff, it’s us as footballers.

“It shouldn’t have had to get to that point to put things right and get results. We’ve done it today and hopefully we can carry on doing that.

“This is how football works, but I just want to say a big thank you to him. He brought me back here at a time when I really wanted to come back, he made that possible for me.”

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Very quickly into the building was Paul Simpson, who took over with just two days to prepare for his first game in charge.

“It was very good to get him in but it’s very nerve-wracking,” he admitted. “It is football and you know that sometimes it can turn the wrong way or the right way.

“As players we don’t know who is going to come through the door. The first thing that Simmo said when he got here, I think it made us all realise that we can do this, we can really push on.

“It gave us that comfort and it took all the nerves away about what it was going to be like. He gave us a clean slate as a collective and he wanted us to be confident and believe in ourselves.

“I think he’s just given us the belief that we need to have in ourselves. He’s given everybody a clean slate and I think that’s worked because you could see the confidence we all played with. We had that in training and we took it into the game.

“You should have seen us training on his first day. We were all trying to fight each other because everybody wants to play.

“The fact is that places are under threat so it was important for us to give him a good first impression. The game is another first impression for the manager to say, can you fight, have you got what it takes to get out of this situation.

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“A lot of the boys have got that and I think it’s about bringing it out of each other.”

So the manner of the win possibly demonstrated the tough streak that’s going to be needed through the remaining phase of the campaign?

“One hundred per cent, yes,” he insisted. “In previous games we’ve tried to play the right type of football and pass it pretty, and it wasn’t working.

“It did on occasions, but all we can do now is run and fight, and win games one way or another. Putting maximum effort in is something we can all do, and I think we realise that. Maybe it won’t always be pretty, but at least we can do that.

“On Saturday, as it’s gone in previous games, it was very important that we went ahead. We didn’t go under, we kept fighting and we kept the clean sheet.

“I can’t remember the last time we did that, and if anything that was the most important thing we did. We can take that forward because when we go a goal up we do back ourselves.

“We backed each other up on Saturday more than I’ve seen us back each other.”

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On a personal level it was goal number four for the season and a suggestion that this is a club that, for whatever reason, makes him tick.

“It’s definitely good for me to be scoring because it gives me a confidence boost,” he told us. “It makes me feel like I can help the team and every time I go on the pitch I feel like I’m a threat.

“I definitely feel a lot better than I did last season. I got five last season, I’m on four now and I’ve just come back, so that’s good.

“It gives me confidence and it gives the boys confidence that they can rely on bit of magic from me.

“When Kristian flicked it, it took me back to Bradford. It was kind of like that goal. I knew I’d been in that position before and I knew I could capitalise on it.

“It worked because it was a position I was familiar with and I felt I could do well.”

Having already mentioned the confidence the team could take from the result, he spoke again about what it means to the younger players to have ended the run they’d been on.

“It’s very important because we have a very young team,” he said. “Experience is something we can’t give them, but what we can give is the fight.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how many games you’ve played, you can always fight. You can head it, tackle and run, and we showed that.

“I think we had the confidence to show it, and we’ve always had that, but it was about getting them out of their shells.

“I always tell people to believe they’re the best player on the pitch. If they do that they’re halfway there.

“We’ve still got a long way to go but this is a massive boost for us. It’ll give us so much confidence going into Tuesday, which is only a few days away.

“We’ve got to do everything right to give ourselves the best chance of getting a performance like this one, or one that’s even better.

“We can’t rest on this because we’ve still got a lot to do. The work we’ve done this week, and the way we played, we’ve got to carry it on.”

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