INTERVIEW: It's a great feeling

Defender Rod McDonald’s 40th minute winner at Scunthorpe on Saturday was close to six years in the making with his last goal – part of a 4-0 away victory for Northampton at Leyton Orient – a spectacular overhead kick which the player himself has advised everyone to ‘look up on YouTube.’

So, here it is (around the 1-minute mark):

That was back on 13 February 2016, and his absence from the scoresheet prompted Sky presenter Jeff Stelling to direct some mild mickey taking in the direction of the centre back when in-vision reporter Rob Palmer reported on United’s New Year’s Day winner live from the stadium.

“It’s nice to get a goal but I can’t believe it’s been that long,” Rod said after the game. “Hopefully I’ll get a few more before the end of the season.

“That’s what I’ve been trying to work on, and I’ve hit the bar, once today and twice against Barrow. I’ve been coming close, and I’ve kept on working on it with Callum [Guy] and a couple of the lads on the training ground.

“I’ve talked with the manager about it because defensively I win a fair share of my headers, so I can help us get to the ball, but it’s just obviously about getting on the end of it in their box with the movement and reading of it.

“I think I’m getting better at that and even though I’m 29 I’m still learning every day.”

Having powered his header over the line to give the Blues the lead, and ultimately the three points, he admitted that it was a pretty good feeling to see it bulge the back of the net.

“It’s the best feeling in the world, isn’t it,” he told us. “If you look at my celebration you can see I couldn’t believe it. I was saying to the lads - did I score there - and I’m really glad that I did.

“I’ll take any goal, if it comes off my knee, thigh, wherever, I’m not fussed. There’s nothing better than a goal and a clean sheet, that’s the best any defender can ask for. It’s New Year’s Day as well so it’s a wonderful way to start the year.

“I must admit, when you go close as much as I have you do wonder what’s going on, but you’ve just got to keep knocking on the door and hoping they’ll go in. That’s what I’m going to keep doing and I’ll try and get as many as I can between now and the end of the season.”

And in terms of the bigger picture, the win made it three from the last four games, with back-to-back victories secured for the first time under new boss Keith Millen.

“We’ve been at the bottom end for most of the season so I don’t think the lads are too focused on what’s behind us,” he insisted. “I think the focus now is on climbing the table and seeing how high we can get. Like I say, we’re all determined to be pushing in the same direction.

“Winning games fills everybody full of confidence, the players, the manager, the fans. We’ve got 24 games to play so there’s still a long way to go. We’ll just keep ticking them off as they come.

“If you look at the last four games we’ve taken nine points, so if you take that into the next four games you’re very happy aren’t you, really.

“We could go somewhere and maybe not play as well as we have been, but if you start getting into the habit of winning you can be doing that even when you haven’t played so well, and that can be the difference.”

The three points, of course, came against a team close to us in the table, and after an enforced winter break that could easily have had a negative impact, had it been allowed to.

“It’s a perfect way to get back into it because we have had that three-week, but we’ve got the first win straight away, and that’s always nice,” he commented.

“You can’t deny that it has been tricky, because obviously you’ve got the Christmas period in the way, and you’re always worrying about how the lads are going to be with the food and the drink, you just never know, do you.

“That’s why it’s nice to have the Boxing Day game because it keeps everyone on their toes. Everyone has got back together for this weekend and they’ve been tremendous, to be fair.

“The gaffer has been on us in training, so when it comes to that I don’t think the lads are losing too much sharpness. You just have to treat it as a winter break.

“Every other country around the world does it, so you don’t really lose that much sharpness after you’ve played 20 games. The lads were fine.

“We know where we are in the league and we know what it’s like being in the bottom two. We didn’t enjoy that. We want to push up the table and, with the amount of games left, you just never know. There’s a lot stranger things have happened, so we’ll just keep on pushing.”

His won form, as part of a blossoming partnership with Morgan Feeney, has brought praise from the fans, who made him their man-of-the-match with over 60% of the online vote.

“I know we haven’t been up there in the league like we were last year, but my own performances compared to last year have been up there,” he said. “I told you guys about the work I did in the summer and through pre-season to be ready for this season, and I think you’ve seen that.

“Me and Morgan are good mates off the pitch. He’s only young but he’s a commanding presence, he talks really well for his age, and he just needs games.

“The more games he plays the better he’ll be. You can see that he’s shining in each game and he’s getting better and better.

“Sometimes, like on Saturday, doing the ugly stuff is what we’re here for. It’s one of them where you need to turn up and be strong and physical. You need to be dominant in both boxes, and I think we were.

“Both of us like the heading and kicking part of the game and, if we can, we’ll play a bit as well. This wasn’t one of those games, it was about being physical and strong, so we did that.”

Click HERE to watch an interview with Rod McDonald on iFollow United now.

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