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REACTION: A really competitive game

Gav Skelton with his thoughts on the Annan friendly

8 July 2023

Club News

REACTION: A really competitive game

Gav Skelton with his thoughts on the Annan friendly

8 July 2023

United’s first friendly of the summer up at Annan turned out to be one heck of a test, with both sides providing an entertaining encounter that was full of energy, enthusiasm and chances at both ends.

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“It was really good,” assistant boss Gav Skelton told us. “We were up against a team that starts a week on Saturday, I think it is, so that means they’re probably ahead of us in terms of games like this.

“It was really competitive, a good crowd, a nice night and it turned into a proper pre-season game.”

“It was an extension for us from training and yesterday [Thursday] was the first time we’d actually done anything relating to a game, with an 11v11 session we had,” he added. “It was good for everyone to get 45 minutes, they all got a good workout, and it’s always nice to win.

“I thought we were a little bit better in the second half even though we were lacking some quality and sharpness throughout. You expect that though, because we’ve only been back at work for just over a week.

“It’s one where we can take good and bad from both halves. Like I say, it’s nice to win but we’d probably have to say that Annan were the better team in the first half, and credit to them.

“Sometimes you have to give a bit of praise and credit to the opposition and I thought they played really well. They deserved to be a goal up, but I thought we upped it a little bit in the second half.

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“We deservedly won the second 45 minutes but Greg Fleming made some great saves and they defended really well. They’ll be disappointed to have lost, but we’re pleased to win.”

There were a flurry of chances that on another day would have led to goals, but for that excellent performance between the sticks from Annan’s number one.

“It was good to see those chances come but we maybe lacked that final bit of quality,” he commented. “Like I say, it was the first time we touched on it in training on Thursday with a bit of crossing and finishing.

“Through the first one or two weeks that isn’t really the main concern, it’s all about getting the legs going and getting the fitness levels up. As the weeks and days go on we’ll be able to nail that side of things down a bit more. With the fitness, I thought that after a tough week it looked pleasing.

“It’s good because it’s the first game and you never really relate training to a real game feeling. Like I say, we did 11v11 on Thursday for the first time in training so that we could try to replicate certain things, because it’s all about getting towards match fitness and sharpness.

“Whatever you do, you can’t mirror a match environment, and that’s why these are important. We got a fantastic workout against a really good team. They were promoted, so they’re buoyant, they have some experienced players, and it was a good game on a good surface.

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“And getting the late goals does no harm to anyone’s confidence. It’s not about results at this stage, but it is nice to win. I think the second half performance deserved a goal or two, and at one stage you did wonder if it was going to be our night or not.

“We missed a couple of really good opportunities, and Greg was in top form when we did get through. We kept going and it’s always pleasing when you see people getting in the box and making forward runs to make space for other people.

“We were looking to get the ball into the box from wide areas, and we saw that. The quality could have been better at times, but we can expect that to improve in the coming weeks.”

The game, of course, signalled the return to action following a much-shortened summer break.

“You wouldn’t swap it,” he insisted. “Yeah, it has been short, but we all know the reason why. You’ve now got to move on, it was a fantastic day, and looking at the fixtures was really pleasing, to look at the different names we’ll be coming up against.

“We’re really looking forward to it, and we’re all back in the swing of things. Annan were excellent. They have Killie in their first game and they’ll be difficult, and especially at home, teams won’t look forward to coming here.

“They’ve got a really good core group of players, all credit to them. It was a really tough workout for us and hopefully them. 

“With a lot of lads who were with us at some point that adds a bit as well. I’ve done it before when you play against your old teams, naturally you’re going to try and prove a point.

“Locally, your family and friends show a lot of interest. Their standards were very high. Galloway scored, Josh Dixon controlled the game first half, Greg Fleming was probably man of the match, it was a really good evening all round.

“It’s always good to play local teams because it has that good feeling and connection.”


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