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Club News

MANAGER: We defended as a team

Keith Millen on clean sheets and on Morgan Feeney setting an example

3 January 2022

Six of manager Keith Millen’s 12 games in charge of the Blues have resulted in a clean sheet, with the team looking defensively sound more often than not.

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The Scunthorpe away win was another such example of that, with defending high on the agenda for praise as a first half of crosses and set piece deliveries were competently dealt with.

“We defended as a team, and it’s good to see,” boss Keith Millen said. “The front two worked their socks off, and because they worked so hard it allowed the back eight to stay in shape.

“If our front two don’t work that hard everybody else gets pulled about. They recognise as a team that everyone has to work that hard, so they’re doing that.

“They’re putting their bodies on the line, and the block from Morgan [Feeney] in the first half was a demonstration of that. It was a good bit of play by them to open us up and he was in, but Morgs came flying across with a great tackle.

“That’s the feeling we have in the dressing room at the moment, and Morgan has typified that. There’s a consistency to his defending, which comes with playing regularly.

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“There’s a consistency to the protection the centre halves get because of the shape we are. Morgan’s block from that really good chance basically sums up the overall team performance.”

With so many goals for and against coming from set pieces at League Two level, he spoke again about the work being done to improve things in that area.

“Dominance at set pieces in both boxes is something the club hasn’t had for a while, but we’ve won the last two games on the strength of it,” he commented. “We do a lot of work on them, a lot of preparation goes into it, the staff put a lot into it, and we’ve had first contact in both boxes over the course of the last two games nearly all the time.

“That’s massive. Scunthorpe put us under pressure, they got plenty of crosses into the box, and there were only a couple of times I can think of where we didn’t get the contact before they did.

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“Attacking wise we look at what the opposition do, look at ways we can try and hurt them. It’s the quality of the delivery, it doesn’t matter what you do in the box, if the delivery isn’t right you’re not going to score.

“Because we’ve got better with what we do there’s a belief that we are going to score, and when you get that, it’s a great asset to have. If we can add some goals from the front part of the team we’ll be even better.

“Then, of course, there’s the clean sheets. They come from hard work on the training ground, hard work from the players. Our front two aren’t scoring but we have to recognise the amount of work they’re doing for the team out of possession.

“That allows us to keep our solid shape behind them, and we’ve added the desire in both boxes to defend for our lives. That’s a great thing to have as a group, it also gives you confidence.

“I want to take that confidence into the games coming up. We need to take the things we’re doing well, add more composure in possession, and certainly when we get to our home games I’d like to think we can dominate possession a lot more.”

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