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Club News

MANAGER: Pleased with what I saw

Paul Simpson with his thoughts on the Saturday game

6 August 2023

Club News

MANAGER: Pleased with what I saw

Paul Simpson with his thoughts on the Saturday game

6 August 2023

United’s return to League One brought them a point as they battled out a 1-1 draw with Fleetwood, and manager Paul Simpson admitted to being pleased with the overall manner of the display from his team in front of a crowd of just over 10,000 people.

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“There’s a hell of a lot to be pleased with,” he said. “It’s a game-and-a-half with added time now, it’s a bit ridiculous but I’m not blaming the referee, it’s just the rules, but it doesn’t half make it tough.

“I’m absolutely delighted with the character and the spirit they’ve shown today, there were some really tired legs against a well-established League One side.

“It’s given us an idea of what we’re going to be facing this season and it’s probably given me an idea that we need to increase our levels and we need to be fitter than we were today.

“It’s the first game and I’m absolutely delighted to get the first point on the board. If we’re honest we probably should have won it, we’ve had some really good chances.

“It’s a penalty for a clip on Jon Mellish’s heels, Jordan Gibson had a chance and so did Alfie, although that was more difficult, he probably could have had a touch.

“It was a brilliant bit of football to get the cross in for Joe Garner’s chance, and when I saw it coming over the top of the defenders head I was just thinking goal, because that’s food and drink for Joe.

“Unfortunately he headed it down when he probably needed to head it straight and the keeper made the save, but there’s a lot of good things we can be pleased about.”

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“I thought both teams had a right good go,” he continued. “It became a little bit too much like ping pong at the end, it was a little bit back and forward, but they’ve defended for their lives.

“I haven’t checked but I’d imagine they had more possession than us, but we created the better chances. Their goalkeeper made a brilliant save first half from Jordan Gibson, and we maybe could have been in a better position to get a little tap in.

“We’ve then missed two very good chances in the second half, maybe three if you include Alfie’s. There are lots and lots of good things, our players have played a part, and I’ll give Fleetwood credit too.

“But it tells me we’ve got a really strong group of players there who have all got a desire to do well for this football club.

“I’ll go back to the other side and say we’ve also got a group of supporters who are together with us. We’ve got to make sure we all stay together for the rest of this season.”

And from a defensive point of view it was a very solid display.

“They were,” he agreed. “Tomas came and took a few crosses in the first half but then didn’t have a lot to do in the second half.

“We defended well, and I thought it was a really promising performance from us. Now we’ve just got to dust ourselves down and get ready for the next one.

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“In the end it was a really entertaining game of football with two teams going at it. I’m reasonably happy with a point out of it but on reflection, and this is a real early reflection, we’ve had the chances to win the game.

“We’ve got our first point and it’s given us something to take confidence from and build from. Even the lads who came off the bench to finish the game did a job for us. It’s going to be a real test this season.

“The first test was one against a really established League One side who have been up in this league for a few years. They’re a good football team, they’ve got good individuals, but I think we matched them for a lot of things.

“We did create the better of the opportunities and we’ve got to be more clinical, because at this level you have to take your chances. The higher you get the less chances you get, and you’ve got to take them.

“That said I’m pleased with the character they’ve shown when we’ve got Hunts getting cramp, Sam Lavelle’s getting cramp, Callum Guy was absolutely shattered, they all were.

“The truth is that’s what I want every single game. I want them shattered coming off. I think they’re going to be even more shattered when they’re playing 13 minutes of added time at the end of each game!”

It was a game that had United playing at the next level up for the first time in nine seasons – close to ten years.

“There’s a lot of satisfaction in that,” he told us. “We’ve seen good things and things we need to improve on. But we can take a lot of belief from what we did.

“It was a team performance and that’s what gets you through. That togetherness is what got us something last season. We’ve got to do it again.

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“We probably even have to be better than last year. We’ve got to be even more together, because last year we had rumblings from some players because they were disappointed they weren’t in or weren’t playing in the right areas, all of that sort of stuff.

“We’ve got a togetherness about this group that we have to make sure we keep with. Before the game I was nervously excited, because I didn’t know what was going to come, and we’re going to be finding things out as we go through the season.

“The truth is it’s given me belief, hopefully it’s given everyone belief. What I would say is we’ve got 45 more to go. We haven’t even scratched the surface.

“We’ve got so much more that we need to do. We’ve got to improve on so many areas. I thought there were a lot of good things.

“We kept a bit of control better in the game than we did last season, we created some clear-cut chances. In games there’s probably only going to be a handful of those and we’ve just got to be more clinical.”

Having mentioned the crowd, it was pleasing to see them stay behind to clap the players for their efforts on the day.

“I think they saw a really good performance from us and they’ll be pleased that we did a lot of good things,” he said. “I’m really pleased with Luke Plange up front, I thought he looked a real handful and worked his socks off before he got tired, which I expected.

“He needs a goal, but I think we’ve all seen what sort of player he is and what sort of character he is with the way he worked. Even if he gave it away he was recovering and trying to win it back for us.

“Mox got a dead leg in the first challenge of the second half so he had to come off, because it was stiffening up as the half wore on, which is why we took him off.

“We had a bit of a disappointment because the fourth official wouldn’t let Sean Maguire come on when I wanted to make two subs, which meant we lost a stoppage for that.

“Then in the end I had people in the Paddock having a go at me because I didn’t take Callum Guy off, who was breathing out of his backside, but we had no stoppages left and couldn’t do it because we wasted one.

“That’s disappointing so I’ve spoken to the players and told them we have to make sure we’re spot on with our equipment and we don’t allow that to happen again.”


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