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Interviews

MANAGER: There's still fight left in them

Paul Simpson on the Burton victory

28 February 2024

Interviews

MANAGER: There's still fight left in them

Paul Simpson on the Burton victory

28 February 2024

Manager Paul Simpson spoke to us after tonight's victory over Burton.

“When we’ve watched the Burton games leading up to this we knew we’d have to be determined,” he said. “We knew we’d have to compete and win aerial challenges and second balls.

“They’re a really tough side to play against, I’m not sure if I’ve been in a game where we’ve had to defend as many long throws and free kicks as that. Every single one of them stuck to the task tonight and did exactly what we wanted.

“The feeling at the final whistle is one we haven’t had for many weeks so I’m delighted with it. We’ve now got to build on that and go into the next one with the same sort of pride we had today to get some respect back for us.

“Our team shape was because of what we expected from them. We knew they would go with two strikers and one of them is a big old unit. We thought Hudlin might be involved as well who I think is 6”9, so we knew they’d be a bit of a land of jolly green giants. Two of their three centre halves are big lads, so we knew what to expect today. The game went how we expected.”

“I’m really pleased we scored from a set play,” he continued. “I thought the set play delivery from us on Saturday was very good and we should have got at least one goal out of the chances we had. It’s good to see that one go in today.”

“I’m delighted for Harry Lewis,” he admitted. “He’s made three or four really good saves. I look at goalkeepers and think about how many points they win us, and he’s won us that game tonight with three or four saves.

“I think a clean sheet makes us all feel much better. We’ve been desperately wanting a clean sheet to give ourselves a chance of even getting a 0-0 draw. To get the clean sheet with the important saves Harry made and also come away with the three points is really important. It will do everybody the world of good.

“I’m pleased with the desire and the character that the whole group have shown and the big thing it shows to me again is that there’s still fight left in them.

“They were putting blocks in and throwing themselves at it. They were winning first contacts and you have to do that, that’s normal in English football. I’m really pleased with what we’ve shown and how they’ve gone about it.

“We knew this was going to be a tough game because of the surface, the pitch was horrendous, it’s like a pitch from my day in the 80’s. It wasn’t a game where we were going to take chances, but we got it down and passed it when we could. We got our wing backs involved and there were lots and lots of good things out of it. I think the biggest thing is the sheer desire we showed to go and earn that result tonight.”

“I thought it was Sam who got the goal,” he told us. “I had no idea there was any confusion but I don’t really care who scored it. It’s a goal which has won us the game, I don’t think they’ll be too bothered who got it but I’m sure it came off Sam’s head or shoulder. I really don’t care, it was a nice feeling to see it go in then it was a nice feeling to see how we went about it for the rest of the game.

 “We managed the game well after we’d scored. We’ve come up against teams who have managed the game against us but I thought we did that today. We kept the ball when we needed to and we were quite cute about it, we got our bodies in and protected things then won fouls off them to delay it. They wanted it to be high tempo and to win free kicks of their own, but the way we went about it from start to finish was really pleasing.”

“I thought we started the game well,” he said. “I watched their game against Northampton and Burton started that game well until Northampton got the first goal which was a great long distance strike. We knew we needed to be at it from the first whistle tonight and that’s exactly what they’ve done.”

“Jack Diamond is gaining confidence and he’s gaining fitness,” he continued. “We pushed him a bit higher up alongside Luke Armstrong tonight, they’ve got a really good relationship off the pitch and you could see that tonight as well.

“They were talking to each other and working together. Jack showed some lovely pieces of skill on a really tricky surface and hopefully he’s starting to find his feet properly. He’s starting to get fitter, he took a little whack before he came off so I thought it was important to protect him and get those fresh legs on.”

“Josh Vela got a kick on his calf, but I think it was just a kick rather than anything else. Taylor Charters was cramping up as well, so it shows they’re putting a shift in.

“I don’t have a problem with players getting cramp and sore muscles because it means they’re working hard. It’s been a tough week with the travel to Bristol on Friday, we got back late on Saturday then we were in on Sunday to recover before we travelled again on Monday. The preparation has been right and we’re really fortunate the club are prepared to back us with that type of preparation for games. I think it showed with the energy the players put in tonight.

“The fans really stuck with us again and they’ve have had as tough a time as we have, probably tougher because they’re forking out of their own pocket to come and travel and support us. We massively appreciate it and it was wonderful tonight to have them celebrating at the end. I told the players to make sure they went over and enjoyed it with them. This was for the supporters and players tonight.

“It’s one game, I said you need the first one to be able to go on a run, so now we’ve got that and it gives us something to go for this weekend.

“We have to build on it. We’ll count the heads and see who is ok and who isn’t. We’ll look at what Reading do and pick a team accordingly, like we did tonight. We picked a shape and a group of players because we felt that was how the game was going to go, and thankfully it went how we expected and how we wanted it to.”


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