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INTERVIEW: It builds spirit and belief and confidence in the group

Gav Skelton on a positive result at Stevenage

14 September 2023

Last Saturday’s blistering heat and completely unforgiving sunshine made the post-match recovery approach even more important for the players, who had all ignored the conditions to make sure they gave their all in search of a positive result.


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“It was very hot on Saturday down in Stevenage, and I wasn’t even playing!” assistant manager Gav Skelton joked. “We had chance to get plenty of water and food into them on the journey back.

“It was hot but it was the same for Stevenage, and we scored in the last minute so it shows the fitness and personality we’ve got.

“We had Monday off, then we’ve been in on Tuesday and Wednesday. We’ve had some good days and it’s all about preparing for Saturday.

“We’ve had two positive results and, when you score in the last minute, that draw feels a bit more positive too.”

“In terms of the lads keeping going until the end, I think it’s a mentality thing,” he continued. “Sometimes when you feel tired you can get yourself mentally tired as well, but if you’re really strong mentally you find those reserves and that extra bit.

“You can always go further than you think and the body can push itself further than you ever think it can, and I think we showed that on Saturday.”

What the last two results have achieved is an uplift in confidence levels across the board.

“There’s that, and it also keeps the unbeaten run going,” he agreed. “That’s four points in two games and two goals in both of those games, which is pleasing.


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“To score in the last minute of a game to get a point, especially away from home, is always good. It was our first away point and it shows we have that personality and character in the dressing room to keep going right until the end.

“There isn’t anything better, apart from scoring a last-minute winner, it’s the next best thing and it’s a great feeling.

“I think it builds spirit and belief and confidence in the group. In the last two weeks we’ve shown our fitness levels by scoring right at the end of both games, which is really pleasing.

“There are lots of positives to take from the last two league games, we’re conscious that there’s lots to improve on, but it gives us good building blocks to start from.”

Also important was building on that first win of the season with the type of grit and determination that brought the draw from a very tough away venue.

“It was important and hopefully we can go on a run now,” he told us. “Two games unbeaten with two goals in each, and a set piece goal in both of those games as well, that’s something we did well with last year.

“We’ve got strikers scoring goals now so there are lots of positives which we can take into this weekend and the rest of the season.


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“I think the really positive thing is there’s more to come from us. I think we’ve competed in every game, anyone that’s seen us would say there’s not much in it.

“The step up in terms of quality and physicality is a big leap. In terms of physicality, not just in size but the speed people run at, the power, there are more athletes in this league.

“That’s something we’ve had to adapt to, and I think we are starting to improve on it even more. We’ve not been far away in each game, but you want to be in charge of every game. The positive thing is there’s more to come, but we’re picking up results. 

“And the belief we talk about comes from getting results more than anything. People might say ‘he’s got no confidence’ – well, you’d love to give someone a bag of confidence, but you can’t.

“It just comes from working, being professional and backing yourself that results will come. And nothing gives confidence like results or good performances.” 

“We’re seeing it with Jokull in goal,” he concluded. “The more he plays the more he grows into it, and the fans gain confidence in him as well, which is a big thing.

“It’s a knock-on effect. They’ll have belief in him, and he’ll feel good as well. What’s good is we’ve got two good goalkeepers really competing.

“He knows he has to perform or Tomas will be back. Tomas knows he has to perform, so we’ve got real competition at that end, which is another positive. 

“I have to say, Tomas has been spot on. He’s been really good. I liked last week when the game finished and he went straight over and congratulated his mate.

“That was really pleasing – you notice things like that. It means that camaraderie is there. He’s got fire to get back in the team, and hopefully that pushes them both on.

“They’ve both got fire in their belly to get in the team, stay in the team. That’s a really positive thing.”

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