Good afternoon everybody and welcome to today’s game against Walsall. I’d like to welcome Jon Whitney and his team as well as all the supporters who have travelled down with them.
It’s one of the shorter journeys in this league where my knowledge of English motorways seems to grow with each weekend. I have to say that taking 1,600 people for an away game like we did to Blackpool is outstanding; that is not an easy journey but you filled the away end and outnumbered and out sang the home supporters.
Sadly we were not able to get the win that your support deserved. In such a tight division you cannot afford to start as slowly as we did. We were two goals down before we had got out of the blocks. We changed things around a little and tried to lift the tempo and we did look more solid in the second half but the damage had been done long before that. Blackpool are a good side who have the momentum from promotion last season and I can have no complaints about the final score.
Now it is all about how we react. We had only lost once in the league before, at Scunthorpe, and bounced back to go five games unbeaten after that, so we’re looking forward to start another good run today.
I guess a lot of you were here for the last home game against Bradford. I thought that was a very good game of football, full of commitment and good play from two very strong sides. We showed great character by coming back after conceding the first goal. The players kept their focus and kept doing the right things and we were very close to get the win when Joe Rothwell made it 2-1 with four minutes to go; most people would have said it was deserved as well. To concede in injury time was very disappointing but things look different in the cold light of day. We have eight points from four home games so far and have been playing very well here so you take a draw, learn lessons and move on.
We hope to have Christian Ribeiro, Jon Obika and Dwight Tiendalli available again this afternoon after injury. They are very experienced players who will strengthen the group and Agon Mehmeti will also add to our attacking options once he settles into the team.
With a number of new faces in the squad, we went away to Gibraltar Barracks this week for a few days of team building. It had been planned long before the Blackpool game but in the end the timing has been very good. It wasn’t all about assault course and fitness. Instead it was more about getting the group together away from distractions, talking about core values and further developing the bonds that will stay strong for the rest of the season.
Hopefully some of that shines through in a winning performance today.
The full programme is available online at www.matchdayfix.com/oufc