Manager Keith Hill reflects on his side’s 2-1 win over Walsall at the Banks’s Stadium…
“I’ve seen progression over the last month but we haven’t got the results. I thought it was important that the players who played at Barnsley last week got a second chance to at least show the same performance levels today,” said the Gaffer.
“I was really encouraged by last week but we’re in a position now where the importance of the game is the result, and we’ve got the three points today. There were some mistakes which are typical of side that is struggling at the wrong end of the table, but it’s brilliant for the lads to remind themselves of what it feels like to have a winning week, and we’ve got to build on it.
“We know that we’re not the end product and that we need to improve to improve our opportunities to get results like we’ve got today, but there was a lot of courage out on the pitch and I’m pleased with the way we started the game.
“I’m also really pleased with the goals, and we got a little bit of fortune because it could have gone either way – it could have been 2-2. But I thought we deserved the win, not just on today’s performance but because we’ve been rolling into this. I’ve been trying to encourage the lads and we’ve been rolling. We rolled in the second half against Peterborough and I thought we did against Fleetwood to a certain degree, and then at Barnsley we missed out on what should have been a point.
“I’m pleased that we got the three points today because it would have been hard to keep singing the tune to the players of what I expect and not getting the results, so they’ve got a bit of sugar today.”
And Hill explains why he didn’t make wholesale changes to the squad for the match by introducing more of his new recruits.
“We’ve got to try and build on something, like the roll I was just talking about. As a manager you want to win games and you’ve got see through the result, to a certain degree. I didn’t think there was an awful lot wrong from the Peterborough game sliding into the week, so why make the changes [to the starting XI] because we’ve got new players. They’ve got to earn their place and they’ve got to understand how we train and how we do things – it’s important that we integrate the players.
“On Christmas Day, do you open all your presents on Christmas Day or do you save a few of them for later in the day of maybe Boxing Day? I tend to be quite relaxed and composed about opening my presents,” laughed Hill.
“But, listen. We know that we’re in a fight, a dog fight, and we saw that today. Ethan Hamilton’s goal was a good one, and we had other chances, too. Ethan Ebanks-Landell’s goal was brilliant – he is a goal scoring central defender and he’s done well since he has come in.
“I can see us becoming a better side. As a manager, you’ve got keep your mettle and trust the players. Nothing has been achieved yet. It’s only three points and we’ve got 15 really tough games but we’re fighting, and I think the supporters realise that.”
As well as a debut for Rekeil Pyke, Joe Bunney made his return bow, replacing Ryan McLaughlin at right-back during the final moments of the game.
“It was a difficult one because I’ve got the young kid, Luke Matheson, who’s on the bench for a reason. We’re going into the embers of the game where they’re throwing everything at us. I just needed that little bit of experience. There’s no fear from me in playing Luke, but I just didn’t feel it was right to put him on in that scenario, when there’s so much pressure on us retaining that scoreline. I’ve had a chat with him and explained my decision, and he understands. Dan Adshead has been excluded from the squad because I needed MJ [Williams] to maybe come on in that game today to see us out.
“They’ve still got to catch up to speed, the players that we’ve brought in. Ryan McLaughlin has got to catch up because he’s great ability, he’s just got to become a footballing athlete and when he does that, he’ll be able to make the 90 minutes in a breeze. He’s got what we need and we’ve got to make sure he can train with the rest of the boys our way. We’ll play some games behind closed doors hopefully, we’ve got one arranged for this Tuesday depending on the weather, so that’ll give us an indication of whether these players are integrating. Not every player that you sign works, or can integrate, so we’ve got to judge that as well.
“We know they’re good players and it’s important that they add game time, like Rekeil [Pyke] got. I’ve told the lads it’ll be a hard week but it’ll be a hard winning week and we’ve not had one of those for a long while.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow.