Read Michael Appleton's notes in the Plymouth matchday magazineWelcome back for the first of two home games in quick succession. I’d like to offer a warm welcome to John Sheridan and his Plymouth side who have made the long journey today. The game at Home Park earlier in the season was an exciting one which we won 2-1 thanks to an excellent goal from James Roberts, so today gives us the chance to complete our second double of the season after a well-deserved victory at Bury last weekend.
I felt that we showed real togetherness in that win at Gigg Lane. Bury have spent the last two seasons assembling a very talented squad who have been in the play-off places for most of the year. We knew that if we were going to win that game we needed to compete, work hard and be strong.
I said after the match that discipline was key and I didn’t just mean keeping 11 players on the pitch against their ten. I also meant that we needed to stick to our gameplan, play our own way and, if needed, then be patient. We did all of those things and got our reward through a very well-taken goal from Callum O’Dowda after a great ball from Patrick Hoban.
It has been quite a week for Callum, who was called into the Irish under-21 squad for the first time on Tuesday. It follows Max Crocombe receiving a call into the senior New Zealand set-up for the first time a few days earlier. What a great reward for the hard work that those two young players have put in over the years, and what a wonderful example for all the other youngsters who are making their way in the age group sides at the club. Congratulations to Max and Callum, and to their families, from everyone at the club.
Callum will be involved again today as we look to continue a decent little run of four games unbeaten. Last home game was a real battle against a strong Morecambe side who put in an excellent away performance to frustrate us after they had taken the lead with their only real shot of the game. There were too many games that followed that pattern earlier in the season where we didn’t get anything from them. This time we battled away, dominated possession and took a point from the game thanks to a good goal from George Baldock. It is important to learn lessons in football and maybe one or two have been learnt since the first half of the season.
I think there is now a real trust among this group of players and we look like a unit all over the pitch. That is a real positive as we go into the last ten or so games of the season. We have pulled away from danger in the last couple of weeks but we will take nothing for granted and we know there is still a job to be done between now and May.
We have left it late in both of our last two games but you have stayed behind us and kept urging the players forward, and that has played a major role in our recent run. Plymouth will bring a big away crowd today, so with our own fans in full voice let’s hope it’s a great atmosphere for a good game of football this afternoon.
You can read the full magazine online at www.matchdayfix.com/oufc