THE Christmas period in the English football calendar is always one that both players and supporters alike really look forward to. There are games coming thick and fast and it’s a great opportunity for teams to solidify their league positions, so they are looking up the league table instead of worrying about who is behind them.
We have just finished a spell of four games in 10 days and with a small squad that can be very tough, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Managers would rather there were fewer games in that period, but for players it’s brilliant because all you ever want to do is play games. Training is modified to focus on recovery with some video work to make sure we are ready to play the next game.
On Saturday our interest in this year’s FA Cup ended when we were beaten away to Millwall. The 3-0 scoreline was a bit harsh as we were chasing the game late on, but we put in a decent performance.
The game also saw the end of my scoring streak in eight consecutive rounds of the FA Cup which is something I am very proud to have achieved.
Only two other players had ever scored in more consecutive rounds and my dreams of catching the great Stan Mortensen ended. Although, to be honest, I should still be on track because unfortunately I missed a great chance in the second half. The FA Cup has been very kind to me and I’m already looking forward to next season’s competition so I can hopefully start a new run.
The games keep coming quickly for us and we have two more this week starting with MK Dons at home in a Leasing.com (former Johnstones’s Paint Trophy) last 16 tie. The manager will be the first to tell you that this competition hasn’t been a priority for us this season but I have a feeling that might be about to change as we are only a couple of games away from another Wembley appearance and a possible trophy too. Hopefully we can get a good result and be in the hat for the quarter final draw next week.
On Saturday it’s back to league action and a trip to Scunthorpe United. It has always been a very tough ground to go to and I expect them to strengthen their squad before the game on Saturday which will make our task even tougher. They have an excellent manager in Paul Hurst who I played for at Grimsby Town so he will have them well drilled and ready to start 2020 with a bang. We will have to be ready from the first whistle to get a positive result.
The Christmas period wasn’t the best for us and if we are being totally truthful, the season as a whole has been disappointing too, so we need to get back to winning ways quickly.
Because of how quickly the games come, all it takes is a couple of victories and you can shoot up a few positions in the league table. We proved earlier in the season that we are capable of doing that. Injuries and suspensions have been causing us a bit of trouble but as of this week we only have one or two injured players so we are nearly back to full strength.
I’m sure the manager is going to be very busy in this month’s transfer window, looking for reinforcements to strengthen our squad to give us the best chance possible to keep our season alive for as long as possible.
At this stage last season, no one gave us a chance of winning promotion and we came within a couple of minutes of doing the impossible in the play-off final. There is no reason why this season can’t be any different.
We know it will be a big ask, especially as some teams ahead of us in the league have games in hand, but we will give it our best shot and hopefully that will be enough to make up for the disappointment of the play-off final defeat last May which hurt everyone at the club so badly.