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Club News

Michael Appleton's Programme Notes

14 February 2017

"It is the start of a very important period for us"

Good evening everyone and welcome back as we take on Southend United. Like ourselves, Southend have been in good form and I am sure will be doing all they can to bounce back from a disappointing result at Millwall at the weekend. We have already had two very close games against them this season and I expect it to be another very good game this evening.

It is the start of a very important period for us where we play Tuesday/Saturday games 12 times in a row. Obviously, that is a tough run in terms of keeping everyone fit and available but the reason you build a squad in the first place is to cope with all eventualities and precisely this sort of situation. There are some very good players who haven’t been in the side recently but they are sure to get their chance at some stage and it is very important that they hit the ground running and make it very hard for me to leave them out again.

We have Christian Ribeiro and Sam Long coming back into the group at the right time and they will add real competition for places. However, I’d like to spare a few words for Josh Ashby who is going to be out for six months with a knee injury that he picked up in the Senior Cup win at Kidlington. Like Wes Thomas and Aaron Martin, Josh will be looking at the calendar and feeling a bit down, but I know they will get the best help and advice from our medical team and hopefully come back stronger than ever.

We come into tonight’s game on the back of a terrific run of results, with the win over MK Dons making it five wins in a row. Credit to the players on Saturday because it was one of those games where you need to stay patient and just keep going, believing that you are going to get the goal you deserve. MK changed system and personnel to set up a little more defensively than they have been doing and on a cold afternoon like that it is easy to get frustrated and let the energy levels drop off.

We dominated the second half in particular, and had played most of the game in their half but just couldn’t find a goal until Robbie Hall crossed and Kane Hemmings showed what he is all about with a really good header that won the game. I think we definitely deserved it but we had to work hard and I have to praise the fans once again because you never gave up on us and kept trying to encourage us and lift us to find the winner. ‘Fans Day’ was very appropriate.

It’s great to have this little run going and we have to take confidence from it, but also keep looking forwards not backwards. Football has a habit of biting you if you start getting carried away, so we will regroup, refocus and ignore everything that has gone before, just give everything we have into beating Southend tonight.

Enjoy the game,

Michael

To read the full programme online, visit www.matchdayfix.com/oufc