Striker Ryan Edmondson marked his return from a frustrating and nasty shoulder injury with his sixth goal of the season at Swindon last week - and what an important goal it was as he latched onto a last-minute corner from Owen Moxon to earn his side three points, with fantastic celebrations from all concerned.
“I think the goal is massive for me, even just for player confidence,” he said. “I’ve been out for three months, it’s been a graft, and it has been difficult in terms of getting fitness and stuff like that back up.
“My season has been so stop-start that it has been tough, but I’m back now and to get a return like that in front of the away fans, who came with us on such a long journey, it was mad. But more importantly we got the three points out of it, which puts us in good stead.”
Aside the quality of the corner was the energy shown as the forward players hunted in packs to earn the set piece that led to his chance.
“A lot of the time people don’t look into the way we do stuff on the pitch,” he told us. “The gaffer does, he analyses absolutely everything and he can pick put people’s weaknesses.
“We thought that pressing them high up the pitch was going to be effective for us, and we ended up getting the set piece from a mistake that came from us doing that. To be fair, Mox has put in a worldy ball and someone had to get on the end of it. Happily it was me.
“He’d actually put one on the roof of the net just before that, and I think everyone can see from his standards this year that it’s not like him at all.
“It’s massive from him that, to grab himself straight after he’d done that and put another one in with the quality we got. The composure it takes when it’s the last kick of the game is huge. For a striker to have a centre-mid like that who can put a ball into the right area is an absolute dream. Credit to him and to the lads as well, for getting us there.
“We’d actually gone through their set pieces all week, and we thought it was a real area for us to exploit. With being on the bench I could see through the whole game that no one was marking the back post.
“There was one in the first half where Morgs, Garns and someone else ended up going for the same ball, and it was a bit of a messy one. When it came to ours, I had Jon Mellish trying to tell me to go to the front post, because he wanted to get onto the deep one, but I thought, yeah, that’s not happening, not a chance!
“I peeled off at the back post, nobody came with me, and fortunately I put it into the back of the net. For it to be in front of the fans, on such a long journey - it’s another that isn’t just half an hour down the road - it’s a good long day out, so to give them that kind of happiness to go back with is just something special for us.
“The dressing room was bouncing after the game and I’m sure that whatever coaches or trains they were on, they were having a good time.”
As mentioned, it took his tally to six, which isn’t bad for a player who has had a frustrating run of it.
“I always said at the start of the season that I wanted to aim for at least double figures,” he reminded us. “If I got that from my first full competitive season with the club then I’d be very happy.
“I’m still hoping to get towards that, but I’ve had such a disrupted season where injuries have hindered me, the stupid red card, things like that, but these things happen as a player and you have to overcome it.
“So, I suppose that six goals from the season I’ve had means that I’m reasonably happy, but I am still looking for double figures.”
And all six of them have come from his head!
“My dad has always told me that I’m an old, classic number 9 that you don’t really see any more,” he explained. “You find these small, nippy little number 9’s that are so good with their feet, and you don’t really see many people using their head any more.
“I think it’s a bit of a dying breed that classic number 9 role. I’m happy to fill that role, and I’ll keep getting my headaches, that’s all fine by me.
“And I know that if I get in the box I’ll get chances. The way we are at the moment, everyone knows each other’s role. If people see me on the pitch they’re just going to put the ball into the box. It’s the same with Joe Garner, he’s made an absolute killing out of it.
“His career has been so successful just because he is a box predator. He lives in there and he feeds off anything that comes in. Whenever the lads see us on the pitch, especially Jack Armer and Owen Moxon, they’re probably two of my biggest suppliers this year, they know I’m going to be in there at some point.
“I’m more than confident that once I get on it it’ll be in the back of the net. It’s good to understand that the relationships we have with each other.”
“Having spoken about Garns, and as much as I love him, he is an unbelievable guy to have around, but another striker coming into the club is always frustrating for those already there.
“I think it’s really good for the club and it’s so good for the lads to have him around. I know that about him from experience, because he’s such a laugh and he brings the dressing room up.
“He has good banter with people, which is one thing, but you’ve also seen from his performances that he’s an unbelievable player. His talent is just daft. I’ve learned so much from him at other clubs as well, and I’m happy that I can learn more from him just by being here.
“He’ll help us out a lot, but I’ll do whatever I can to keep him out of the team. If he gets in the team it’s not a bad thing either, because he will score or create goals and he’ll help the club.”
Despite the intense competition for places there’s a real sense of togetherness, whoever gets the nod.
“It’s the way you’ve got to be,” he said. “This position we’re in, nobody expected it, and I think the morale we have as a club at the moment is something I’ve never seen before.
“Even if you’re not selected as soon as you walk out of that meeting room, when you see whoever is in your position, you’re telling them to go and smash it. That’s the first thing we’re all doing.
“If it’s Denno playing all I do is just tell him to go and do his thing. If I’m not in the squad and I’m in the changing room, even when I was injured, my message to all of them was to get out there and do their thing, go and do what you do. All of the lads are like that, and I’m sure we’ll carry on that way.”
Part of that togetherness is the constant demand on standards, in everything that’s done, but does that come from the manager or the group?
“I think it’s both,” he commented. “The manager does relay that onto us, of course he does, because he knows everyone’s qualities within the squad. From me knowing the gaffer from previously I know he’ll demand that from you. If he doesn’t get it from you, he’ll tell you.
“The lads also know how good we all are, we know each other’s qualities, we know how good we can be, so if we’re not meeting that standard, be that on a Saturday, or a Tuesday afternoon in a reserve game, or in training, we will tell each other.
“It’s not to a point where you’re having a go at someone, and nobody takes it personally in football, it’s just the way it is. We don’t look to be personal, but we will tell each other, and I think that’s a really healthy thing to have going on.
“And I don’t really know what it is, but there’s just something about the gaffer where you will just do anything for him. If he asks you to run through a brick wall, you’re doing it. It’s a credit to him with the way he goes about things with the squad because he doesn’t let anyone down.
“He’s a transparent manager, he always has been, and if there’s something for him to say, he’ll say it. That’s what players respect most, he doesn’t beat around the bush and he’s told me sometimes when we’ve been out training that I simply haven’t been good enough.
“He’s said that he doesn’t care that I’m his number 9, if I’m not good enough I’m not good enough. It does make you pick up your standards when that happens. With the position we’re in and the amount of games we’ve got left to go, we can’t afford to slip.
“Having the gaffer around and him demanding those standards, and us willing to follow those standards, puts us on a good stead.”
“I actually think we’ve got one of the best feelings about the place that I’ve seen,” he continued. “We’ve got such a positive feeling about everyone, and the relationships everyone has with each other is just something special.
“We’ve continued to reiterate the message that we shouldn’t see the end goal, just focus on the next step. As long as you can see the step in front of you and take it in the right way we’ll keep going forward.
“I think that’s the message everybody is trying to get across to each other, don’t think about the summer, just think about the next game that comes in line.”
As for the mental challenges of being chased at the top, he said: “It’s such a competitive league, I think there’s only six points between second and sixth, or something like that.
“I’ve been in the league for a few years now and it’s hard to get out of. Fortunately I did it last year through the play-offs, I’m hoping we get a bit more of a holiday this year and we get it done earlier.
“You just have to look at the next step, not at the end goal. There’s a real positivity about it and if we can keep that mentality we’ll be good to go.
“Coming up against teams around you is part of it. These head-to-head clashes are what football is about. I think it brings a lot of excitement and we’re hoping to get a big crowd to help us get over the line.
“I think it’ll be a special game and the more people we can have there to witness it, the better. It’s massive to know that everyone around the city is behind us. In terms of time, we don’t spend a massive amount of time actually on the training pitch, it’s a couple of hours a day.
“When you come off the pitch you have time to look on social media and things like that, so when you see people getting behind you it makes a massive difference to your mentality. It probably helps us more than the fans and business even know.
“When you see people backing the club or talking about being excited to come down for the game on a Saturday it makes us even more raring to go for it.
“I think it’s brilliant for us all to be involved in something like this. The turnaround has been massive, I remember playing against Carlisle last season, it was a Tuesday night and I think Port Vale won 3-1.
“The fans were getting on the players’ backs, but it’s been completely different for us this year. Even if we go 1-0 down in a game, the fans don’t jump on us, they get behind us, which is what you need.
“I think we all respond to it, when we go down we always show fight to come back, and I think the fans can see that. That feeling around the place, on the pitch and off the pitch, it’s a special place to be when we’re all together, and if we keep going the way we are I think we’ll achieve something.”