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MANAGER: They all really earned the clean sheet

9 April 2024


MANAGER: They all really earned the clean sheet

9 April 2024

We spoke to manager Paul Simpson after tonight’s victory at Cheltenham.

“It was one of those games where we knew we’d have to roll our sleeves up and put tin hats on,” he said. “We knew we’d need to defend for our lives and that’s absolutely what we did. They’ve put so many balls into the box, but I don’t think Harry Lewis has had a save to make.

“The way we’ve defended was outstanding. The reason we put Hunts in tonight was because this game was absolutely set up for him. We knew they’d stick balls in, it’s a small pitch and we didn’t think they’d run in behind us. Hunts was excellent for us in the middle of that defence, he cleared everything with his head, and I thought Sam and Ben were outstanding as well.

“Jack Armer showed real energy, and Fin Back came into it and did well. He got a kick on his calf which meant I had to change it, but Jack Ellis showed he can slot straight back in. I’m really pleased with so many things today in what has been a really tough time for us.”

“They all really earned the clean sheet,” he continued. “We knew they’d have to earn it, Cheltenham are fighting for their lives, but I thought our players showed incredible character tonight even though we already know our fate.

“It was pleasing to give the away supporters something but I’m desperate for us to do something at home for our home fans. They’ve been starved of 90-minute performances and starved of results so we have to follow it up.

“We’ve got two tough home games coming up and we’ve got to show that type of work-ethic and that type of desire to defend. I think we could have shown a bit more quality on three or four of the breaks that we had. If we can get that into our game then I think we can cause some problems.

“We took our chance when we got it. It was a good set play delivery, I’ve got to say that some of the others weren’t great but that one was a good delivery. Ben Barclay kept it alive for us and Sam smashed it into the roof of the net so it was a well-worked goal.

“We just had to hang in there after that and I do think we had two or three opportunities in wide areas where if we got the right pass, we could have had a good little break going, but we overhit things and didn’t quite get there.

“It’s a really good result for us and I’m really pleased we’ve got the three points, it certainly makes the journey home more pleasant.

“Sam has got two goals in three games now which is good for him. He comes in for a bit of criticism and everybody is entitled to their opinion but he’s a good pro and he goes about it in the right way. I think all of the players who will be here next year will be better for this experience we’ve had to go through this season, I hope it makes us stronger.”

391 Cumbrians made the trip to Cheltenham, and the manager praised their efforts tonight and all season: “The supporters have been outstanding, and I’m pleased they’ve seen that tonight.

“I really want to do something for our home fans, it’s been really painful what we’ve had to go through this year and when you’re doing that everyone asks questions and everything is wrong. I know there have been a lot of things that have been wrong, but the truth of it is we haven’t been good enough.

“It’s something we have to address to make sure we’re better as a full squad and football group next season. Work has already started to try and do that.”

Commenting on another start for Georgie Kelly, he said: “I think Georgie is a real handful. He looks such a threat with his power up there, he’s technically good as well, he’s not just a big lump. I think him and Luke will go on to prove a real good partnership.

“JJ has been really frustrating but it was good to get him back out there. You could see again what a handful he can be. We’ve just got to keep him fit now.”

“Sean Maguire hasn’t had a scan,” he continued. “He’s got a long-standing Achillies problem that he’s managed to get through without having any procedures on it. I think he’s gone for an injection on it today which is likely to put him in a boot for a couple of weeks which will probably be him done for the season.

“Butts has had his scan, he’s got a calf strain so he’s out for 6-8 weeks which means his season is done as well. The 18 we had tonight is the 18 we’ve got available, plus Tomas Holy. We’re down to bare bones but that’s something we’ve just got to deal with.”

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