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INTERVIEW: We were off it on the day

Gav Skelton with his thoughts on the Blackpool CLC defeat

30 November 2022

Club News

INTERVIEW: We were off it on the day

Gav Skelton with his thoughts on the Blackpool CLC defeat

30 November 2022

United were in Central League Cup action on Tuesday afternoon, and it was Blackpool who took the points with a goal either side of the break doing the job.

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29 November 2022

Assistant manager Gav Skelton gave us his reaction after the full-time whistle had blown.

“We have to hold our hands up and say that it was definitely the best team that won,” he said. “I think we only had a couple of real efforts at goal, their keeper made some decent saves from them, but apart from that we were chasing it a little bit.

“Over the 90 minutes we weren’t good enough as a unit, but the thing we can take from it is that it showed how we desperately need game time for some of our lads.

“That was the first game, or first 90 minutes for a number of them, and we can’t hide away from the fact that they needed it. Some were well short and looked too far off it.

“Credit to the youth team lads who played, I thought along with Jamie Devitt they were probably our best performers.

“Maybe that’s because they’re playing regularly in their under-18 league that they did so well. For Blackpool it was their development squad and you have to say that you could tell that they play and train together.

“It showed through the way there was a bit of cohesion to the way they did things whereas we had a group that looked like it was put together on the day.

“I’m not looking for excuses there because the way we pressed and looked after the ball wasn’t good enough. The work rate and tempo needed to be higher, and we’ve talked to them about that.”

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GALLERY: Images from the Central League Cup game against Blackpool

29 November 2022

“That was particularly the case through the first half hour,” he added. “All of that should have been there, and we could then have excused them once the game wore on for starting to feel tired and getting a bit sloppy.

“Some of them looked way off it from the start but, we must remind ourselves, they definitely need games and time on the pitch. It’s too easy to expect big things from players who have had no minutes, or snatches here and there, when actually that isn’t fair on them.

“They know that themselves. If we’re being honest, some know where they need to be better and others will find reasons for it not to be on them to produce it.

“That’s human nature. It’s been that way in every squad I’ve ever been involved with. Some get it, others look for excuses when they haven’t perhaps done as much as they could have.

A real concern from the day was a heavy tackle on Ben Barclay which left him holding his ankle.

“That compounds the frustration when you see that happen to him,” he agreed. “It’s actually the other ankle to the injury he’s just come back from, so he’ll be really annoyed.

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MATCH DAY INFO: Tickets Sutton

29 November 2022

“To be fair, it was a disappointing tackle, and it’s such bad luck for him. It’s far too early to sound too many alarm bells and obviously we have our fingers crossed that it settles.

“The plus points injury wise were seeing Jamie Devitt and Joel Senior out there. I thought Joel really grew into the game after naturally being a bit tentative in that first ten minutes or so.

“When he steamed up the right hand side and forced a save out of the keeper you knew that was a great moment for him. He was blocking crosses and winning headers and it was good to see.

“He got his 45 minutes and if we can get him involved again in the games we have over the next two or three weeks it’ll keep doing him the world of good.

“Jamie was confident on the ball, he tested the keeper a few times, and he kept going. Like I say, all of them who got minutes will be the better for it.”

“As we play these games we want to get to a point where players are knocking on the manager’s door,” he concluded. “We all feel frustrated now, but games like this are vital for these lads.

“They should improve the next time they’re involved, but that doesn’t hide the fact that the basics weren’t done in this game.

“Some did lack match fitness, but a number have trained regularly so we will always expect and demand more.

“That’s the same after the Walsall game at the weekend. We’re all disappointed, but the key is that we learn from it and push on.

“We have to take the frustration we felt and make sure we harness it and use it. Sutton, Barrow, Northampton, none of them will feel sorry for us.

“We have to take the negatives and turn them into positives when we play these teams in the coming weeks.”

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