Do you think that was a fair result?
I am always going to say yes! If you break the game down into chances, we had the best ones and we should have been out of sight at half-time. To go 2-0 up, possession is not everything all the time and we banked in and we were difficult to beat. They are one of the best teams in the league at moving things around and they were super expansive in the second half, especially after going 2-0 down. But even in the first half they were expansive and every time we had a couple of passes we looked like getting into their back three. I thought it was a good day.
Were you a little bit concerned it was only 1-0 at half-time because you did have some good chances?
Willo’s reaction was good because he scored in the second half. He know he needs to score that chance and he’s actually done well to hit the keeper. One thing you get from him is honesty, along with endeavour and he doesn’t let it disappoint him too much that he goes and misses the next one. We can talk about his miss, but ultimately he has won us the game, so it depends which we you want to look at it and I prefer to look at it the more positive way.
He has now scored five goals. Has he exceeded your expectations as a striker?
I think we have created good chances and he probably thinks he should have scored more. We brought him because of what he does and he has a proven scoring history. He is a good lad who works hard. A minimum requirement is maximum effort and that’s one thing he gives you every game.
You wanted a reaction after Tuesday’s defeat at Port Vale, did you get the one you wanted?
Yes, because it wasn’t a lucky win and we were good value for the win. We had a meeting on Thursday and had a chat about what we are and what we can be and more focus on us and how we need to demand a bit more from each other every day and the spirit and togetherness was there, particularly at the end because it is difficult, but Josh (Griffiths) didn’t really have to make a save.
Ellis Chapman went on for his debut. How did you think he did?
It’s a tough one and it is the graveyard shift because they had people all over the place. I thought he grew into the game after starting a little bit sloppily. It’s a big thing making your debut for a club and he’s only 19. He is a big lad and he does look older than he is, but he is still a young boy. He grew into it and a couple of times he lost out, but he nips back in and I think he will be a good player for us.
The games come thick and fast. Do you anticipate having any players back from injury on Tuesday night at Oldham?
Blairy was obviously on the bench today. He wasn’t fit to start and we made a late call after training yesterday, so he should come into the thinking. Finn can’t get rid of this niggle. Lloydy isn’t available until a week on Tuesday, through protocol. Other than that unless there is anything from today, we’ll see where we’re at.
You said you thought the league was wide open on Tuesday. Do you think it is more open than it has in previous years?
Probably just based on the circumstances and the weirdness of playing what we are playing in, nothing to do with the teams. You are getting strange results and home form doesn’t seem to count for anything at the minute, so that’s the reason. It’s not because I think the league is good, bad or indifferent. It is hard to get goals because of momentum and crowds getting you going. I don’t know what’s coming regarding another lockdown. We’ll just get on with it and do the best we can.
Sometimes historic stuff is thrown up and it’s irrelevant but how pleased are you to end that long wait for a win against Forest Green, particularly for all the fans who couldn’t be here today?
That’s the real shame of today. It was a good football game and the place would have been rocking. They’d have been shooting towards their fans in the second half so they’d have been sucking it in as well. The history, it’s a little bit skewed as in 22 years I am not sure how many games there have been, but I had the same thing at Burnley when it was 35 years, not beating Blackburn. We weren’t in the same league for about 20 of them. But we’ve managed to put it to bed and hopefully the supporters will be able to have a nice night indoors by 10pm but we know what it means and we could hear the cheer from the boardroom. They’ve been waiting a long time too, as well as the supporters. It’s just a tinge of disappointment there is nobody here to celebrate it with.
You were complimentary about Forest Green before the game and they were complimentary about you as well. Do you think they’ll be right up there this season?
Yes, if you finish above Forest Green you have a good chance of going up. They don’t give many goals away, they are a good footballing team and they are well coached, you can see that. They can play in different ways. That wasn’t just me dressing it up before the game, I’d be happy to finish above Forest Green this year because you’ll be there or thereabouts and I am sure the supporters would as well!
How pleased were you with the way Andy Williams and Reuben Reid did up front together, with Alfie May just in behind?
Yes, it was difficult because we couldn’t quite get the press right. We wanted to allow them onto us. They wanted to keep going to press which is good because of endeavour, but we didn’t want to bring the gaps open because that’s when Forest Green go and play in them. They did well, worked hard and we got the ball into Reuben’s feet in areas, without perhaps quite enough runners off him. Reuben came off and he understands why he came off, 2-0 up and the game set up for counter attack. There is no ego in terms of why, because the game was set up for Alex (Addai) and he nearly got in to properly kill the game off. That was after one day’s work because of the Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday you can’t do a lot of work so it’s hard to put the preparation into them, but I was pleased with all three of them.
So is that one case where you don’t want your players to run quite as much?
Yes, the work we did do was either a full court press where everyone locks in, or we give up the first third of the pitch because Forest Green can play through you. If you back off some teams launch it, but Forest Green won’t do that. They have good rotations and pockets. If you bank in properly, it is hard to play through and we saw that in the last 10 minutes.
Chris Clements gave the penalty away, but how pleased were you with his performance in midfield?
It was funny because if you look at their midfield three and ours, they were physically stronger than us, quicker and bigger than us. But football ability in the first half, we played through them quite well. I was pleased with Clem, against his old club. He knows what he is and he knows he needs to get on the ball, or he won’t be in the team. His other attributes aren’t good enough and that’s not me digging him out, if he was 6ft 2in and quick he’d be playing in the Championship because his brain and technique are that good. He was a credit, but I am loath to single anybody out because we the whole team were good today and we had to be.