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Club News

Michael Appleton Writes

24 January 2017

"With plenty at stake it should be an excellent cup tie"

Good evening everyone and welcome to this Checkatrade Trophy quarter final against Bradford City. This competition has been kind to us over the last couple of years and having sampled a trip to Wembley for last year’s final we will be giving it all we have to try and move to within one game of that again.

It won’t be easy. In the last round we enjoyed a really good evening against Scunthorpe, the highest-placed team still in the competition. We played very well against them and now we have the same situation in playing the one team above us in the table. Bradford are a very good side, but so are we, and with plenty at stake it should be an excellent cup tie.

I was absolutely delighted with the way we played on Saturday at Rochdale. For obvious reasons you try not to dwell too much on a side’s home record ahead of games like that: Rochdale had won ten home games in a row and were in terrific form. But we knew we were in good nick ourselves and I think we got on the front foot right from the start.

We asked a few players to change roles a little and it worked really well. Robbie Hall started more centrally and Marvin Johnson moved up on to the wing and those two caused all sorts of problems, as well as scoring the first two goals. Joe Skarz did ever so well on his return, Chris Maguire drove us forward from wide positions and I thought we dominated almost the whole game.

The only time we were under real pressure was straight after the break, when we knew Dale would come at us after a bit of a rocket from the manager. We defended well in that period and then Ryan Taylor scored an excellent goal to give us a three-goal cushion. Ryan led the line well and got his goal and with Kane Hemmings scoring a hat-trick here in the last round of this competition we are getting real competition for every position. Ryan Ledson scored an excellent fourth goal and I think that was our best result of the season.

We have developed a really good mentality where we tend to bounce back strongly: that result came after disappointment at Wimbledon. At the same time we also need to build on the good results. A great win like that should see everyone bubbling with confidence and looking forward to tonight’s game, but you have to remember what earned you that victory, work just as hard and continue to do the right things.

We have two big cup matches here now and want to make progress in both. It doesn’t matter how many people are here: we will prepare properly, be full of confidence, and be fully focussed on getting through to the next round.

Michael

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