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MANAGER: We've got to make sure we compete

Keith Millen ahead of the Sutton home game

28 January 2022

It’s another tough test for the Blues on Saturday afternoon as they face high-flying Sutton United here at Brunton Park.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, boss Keith Millen said: “They’re a club who have an identity in the way they play and the types of players they look for.

“It was successful for them last year and quite often when you’ve had one promotion you can quite easily go again because of the momentum and confidence that brings.

“That’s what’s happened with them, they’ve kicked on and they still play the way they did last year. They’re big, strong, athletic and direct, and they’re good at it.

“They put balls in the box and ask you questions. They’re on a good run so it will be a tough test for us. They’re one of the form teams so we’ve got to make sure we’re ready for what they do.

“We’ve got to match that before we start talking about trying to play our game and get the ball down and pass it. We’ve got to deal with their physicality, and that’s something we’ve been good at recently.

“We’ll be tested on that on Saturday.”

“You have to respect what they do, absolutely,” he continued. “They’re a difficult team to deal with in the way they play. We respect that, you can’t ignore that, because they’re successful.

“We have to make sure we compete, get back to the basics of what’s made us a good side, and then be brave and get on the ball and try and cause them problems. That’s the mindset.

“They’re in a good place, the lads, and they’re looking forward to the game. It’s a case now of us taking the way we do things into it.

“We’re at home, Sutton I’m sure won’t change what they’re doing because they’re successful at it. It will be a case of dealing with their game but not trying to match them, trying to play our own game once we’ve dealt with them.

“If we get into a long-ball fight then we’re going to struggle. We have to deal with them and then try and work a way of causing them problems as well. We’ve done that at home.

“We’ve lacked the end product but we’ve been good in possession and we’re going to need to be brave in possession on Saturday to cause them problems.”

With Sutton having carried the momentum of last season into this campaign, he spoke about what many are seeing as a surprise package following their meteoric rise.

“You could say it’s a surprise,” he told us. “Sutton’s one of my local clubs, where I come from. I know the club well, I’ve been there a few times to watch them.

“They used to have the astroturf there, they were a good side on that, going up they’ve had to put the grass pitch down. They’ve kept most of the players they had before and are definitely one of these teams that’s got momentum from being successful.

“That often happens; if you can go up and get off to a good start, all of a sudden the players find they’re good enough at that level, their confidence levels in what they’re doing is very high, they’ve got a way of playing that’s very effective for them, they’re a big, strong, direct team, which is fine – you’ve got to deal with that.

“You look at their results and a lot of teams struggle with them. We have to make sure we are ready for what they are and try to do. That’s something we’ve got to match. I’m hoping we can do that.

“I wasn’t here but the club’s trip down there was an example of what they can do. I haven’t mentioned it to the players.

“With it being before I arrived, I don’t really look back on things that happened when I wasn’t here. It was obviously a bad performance and result, so it might give the players some incentive or a gee up, but we’re a different team now in a different place.

“I’ll just focus on what we’re doing, we won’t talk about that previous game. For us I think that’s only one defeat in six league games and we know they’re a good side.

“They’ve got a bit of everything, they can pass the ball and they’ve got a big target man they can use if they have to go long. We knew it would be a tough game but we weren’t at our best and we’ve learned from that.”

And the excellent home atmosphere is something he’s looking for more of.

“In the last few home games I’ve noticed a different atmosphere around the ground,” he said. “It’s been very positive and supportive.

“The away fans have been brilliant since I’ve been at the club, but I’ve noticed a change in the last few home games.

“We have a big part to play in that with our performance on the pitch, it’s down to us to set the tone and I think if we do that then the fans appreciate it and get behind us.”

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