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MANAGER: We needed that type of performance

More from Paul Simpson on the Colchester game

19 February 2023

It was exactly the type of performance that was needed against Colchester United on Saturday afternoon as the squad worked hard to get on top, with solidity the buzzword around a very competent performance.

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And the early goal from Leeds loanee Alfie McCalmont – his first on his first start for the Blues – proved to be enough to secure what was a very important win.

“It’s huge, yes,” agreed manager Paul Simpson. “You just have to look at the league table and you hear of other results, and there are teams who are going to be pushing us all the way.

“Stockport are flying at the moment, Mansfield are picking up results, and we saw what they’re like last week.

“It’s going to be tough, but we have to keep going. We’ve worked incredibly hard for 32 games, now we have to work hard for 14 more.”

“We needed that type of performance,” he added. “We needed a solid defensive performance, we needed our goalkeeper to come and do what he did, and the clean sheet is wonderful.

“To get a goal early on it just settled us down a little bit. Credit to Colchester because I thought they made it really difficult for us. When the subs started to come on, they really tightened up on us.

“They had Hopper, Akinde and Jay and they were a flipping handful as a team. I was delighted and relieved when that final whistle went because it was a case of just getting ourselves over the line.

“We wanted that positive reaction after what happened on Tuesday night, which was out of character with what we’ve seen so far this season. Hopefully it’s the last time we see anything like that as well.”

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The real satisfaction on the day was taking the points from a very disciplined and well drilled opponent.

“It is satisfying, and I think the way that both teams went about and worked so hard meant that it wasn’t a free flowing game of football,” he commented. “I do believe that we were a bit nervous, even though we defended so well as a team.

“Although we had those nerves I’m struggling to think of any time that Tomas had to make a goal bound save.

“I did think things were nervy because people were thinking about us getting ourselves going again, and I’ve got to give credit to the supporters, particularly in the second half, because I think they recognised that we were feeling that way.

“They made a hell of a lot of noise as they got behind us and we thank them for that. Between us we’ve got ourselves over the line with a really big three points. Hopefully this is the start of us going on a good run.”

Solidity from back to front was also key in the achieving the victory.

“I think when you’re playing against a Colchester side who, at the moment, are enjoying some real momentum, and they’re a really good side with the additions they’ve made, you have to be pleased with a win,” he told us.

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“They caused us problems, but Morgan, Hunts, Mells and Tomas were excellent. I thought Jack Ellis gave us a real solid presence on the right, and Jack Armer has been excellent for us as well.

“Callum Guy was picking up second balls, so there were lots of really good things from all over the pitch. The hard work defensively gave us a base to go on and create things, and we had other chances to have made it more comfortable.

“I think of Mells in the first half, and if he was a bit calmer and possibly if it had been on his left foot, who knows. Denno, after he came on, put one over the bar, but again he was getting into the right areas. We did have opportunities to finish it off but thankfully one goal was enough for us.”

With 14 games left to play it’s a result that keeps the Blues in the automatic places.

“There's a long way to go, so we won't secure it with 14 games left to play, that's for sure,” he insisted. “Even Orient, who are absolutely streets ahead, they aren’t guaranteed it at this moment in time.

“We're just going to keep going. We'll keep working and keep doing as much as we can. These last few days and next week is a little bit of a reset and a refocus on what we want to do and where we want to go.


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“We've given ourselves a brilliant chance with 14 games to go, to be sat third. We've given ourselves a good chance. But that's all it is. It's a chance. And if we do it properly over the 14, then it will be good. If we don't, then we have to take it on the chin.  

“And we’re back to winning ways after what was a little blip. The truth is, Mansfield was always going to be a tough game. So you can look at all these games, we've got a tough run of games to go, and hopefully that gives us the motivation to want to keep going to give ourselves something to smile about.”

And there’s no doubt it’s going to be exciting, with plenty of up and downs along the way.

“I think the fans are feeing that, as well,” he said. “We had 5,550 here so it’s absolutely fantastic to see them coming out in their numbers again.

“I'm quite sure if we keep getting positive results they will come out in their numbers even more, so we've got to give them something to come back for.   

“Without a doubt part of the excitement is that there’s going to be so many twists and turns. It won’t be plain sailing for any of us.

“Football doesn’t work that way, unless you’re Orient who it seems to be going plain sailing for at the moment. Everybody else is scrapping, fighting and there are teams who are chasing us all.

“We’ve got to just keep nice and calm, keep our heads, keep pushing ourselves forward and keep going.

“We did that in this game and the bonus is a three points tally, which keeps us third, and a clean sheet, which keeps us ticking along nicely, and a really solid defensive performance as a team.

“What we’ll look at now is trying to improve our in-possession stuff as we get ready to do it all again at Crawley.”

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