AFTER a run of nine games in just 28 days – which included three massive FA Cup ties – we finally had a full week’s rest before a game and it showed as we enjoyed a fantastic 2-0 home win on Saturday against a Carlisle side who were just outside the play-off places.
That run of games was very tough for us, but it was a month we won’t forget for a long time. The hardest thing over that period wasn’t the games we played, it was the recovery needed because the same 11-to-13 players played all the games in that time.
The lads who weren’t playing trained hard, but it can be hard to replicate a proper session when there are only six or seven players training. It was a challenge for coaches and players alike.
We saw a massive difference this week as everyone was able to train fully and the lads who hadn’t been playing felt the benefit of that too. It showed on Saturday as a couple of late injuries thrust a few players into the team and they were able to put in an excellent performance.
We started the game on the front foot and were the better team early on although a lapse in concentration nearly let Carlisle in to take the lead. Our home form is very strong this season and we have scored the first goal in the majority of our home games which gives us the platform to build from. On Saturday, that is what happened.
The opening goal was a cleverly worked corner routine and I flicked a header on that was going into the goal but one of our other strikers, Adebayo Azeez, making his full debut bundled it home for his first goal.
I say bundled because I didn’t think he touched it at the time and even from replays it’s still not clear. But I will take the assist for it – my eighth of the season – which makes it my most productive season to date.
He did the same thing as every striker would have done in that situation and that was celebrate like it was his own. The most important thing was that we were 1-0 up and in a very good position.
We got to half time still ahead and in the second half we struck the killer blow with another short corner routine. This time there was no taking the goal away for me as I snuck in at the back post for my 21st goal of the season.
The rest of the game was pretty comfortable for us although we conceded a late penalty but out goalkeeper Joe Day made it two penalty saves in two games with a fantastic stop.
The win coupled with other results puts us right back into the picture. There are five points between us and the last play-off spot but crucially we have a game in hand on the teams in front of us which could put a lot of pressure on them.
We are away from home this weekend against Colchester United, one of the teams just above us in the league and also fighting for a play-off spot. They have been in good form recently although they suffered a very poor defeat last weekend so they will want to bounce back from that and show everyone they aren’t out of the race just yet.
We beat them at home earlier in the season too so we will be hoping that after another tough week’s training we can get onto a winning run to keep on the tails of those above us.
We can’t really afford to lose the game although a draw wouldn’t be the worst result in the world. If we can get a positive result it will be a massive boost for us as our home form has been excellent and we have a run of home games coming up that we will be very confident of winning.
We have close to a full squad to choose from now, bar one or two who are nearly back fully fit, so all the excuses are gone out the window and a big two months is needed from us. Hopefully that starts on Saturday.