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Michael Appleton's Programme Notes

20 August 2016

"Let’s recapture that swagger from last season"

Good afternoon everyone and welcome back as we take on Peterborough United for just our second home game of the season.

The last time we played here didn’t go quite to plan but we felt we should have had more than just a draw against Chesterfield on the opening day. We created enough chances and defended well enough to have won the match but got caught out by a set piece from Ched Evans, a player I think will score plenty more goals this season.

It was frustrating but the opening day is never easy and I was very pleased with the way we bounced straight back at Birmingham in the EFL Cup in the next game. We tried to keep as much of a settled side as possible because we believe that the cup games last year were a big help in terms of momentum and confidence. Beating a talented Championship side like Birmingham can only help and our approach was spot on. We were positive throughout: a midfielder still making a run to the back post in the 120th minute to win the game tells you plenty about the character and never-say-die attitude of this set of players.

From there we headed down to Bristol last Sunday and for once I was critical of the players. Sometimes you have off days, I accept that, but we had six or seven players below their best. We hung in there and I honestly believe that if we had still had 11 players then we would have found a way to win that match. There is no criticism of Sam in that, he is young and will learn from the experience and we welcome him back into the squad today.

His suspension meant a debut for Miles Welch-Hayes at Fleetwood on Wednesday and he can be pleased with his contribution in his first senior appearance. I thought we played better than at Bristol but were still far from our best. It’s not a lack of effort but we need to get on the front foot a bit more and get that same swagger and belief that we had last season. Things will change and results will go our way but we have to make that happen for ourselves.

Finally, as ever, my thanks to the fans for your support in the last two weeks.  You were great on the opening day and have then followed us in numbers for three tough away matches. Get behind us today and let’s all go home smiling after a win.

Enjoy the game

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