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Gaffer at the Weekend

Steve Evans reflects on Saturday's win over Oxford.

11 October 2020

Sunday round-up from the Gaffer.

Q: Considering how strong Oxford United’s side were on Saturday, how pleasing was our performance and victory?
A1: Football is a results business and it was a great victory.
Oxford are a top class team built on an outstanding team budget so it was always going to be difficult.
We worked on a particular shape and these kids played with such desire and determination, it’s amazing what you can do with a plan.
In performance terms we will get much better, we know that, but for that we must all continue to work hard on the training ground.
Q: You said on Thursday the game would be a real test of character. Were you in any way surprised yourself with how the lads stood up to the challenge?
A2: No, none whatsoever.
Our squad is the youngest in the EFL and we talk to them every day about playing with no fear but accepting responsibility. Our jobs are to work hard on the training ground and each day trying to learn.
Q: Vadaine and Jacob scored within a few minutes of each other in the first half. Taking chances when they come is critical and ultimately, when you do, it makes the task for the opposition that much tougher?
A3: We actually made, and missed, two good chances before we scored.
Goals always change games and the structure of it. If anything we sat back in protection mode after going two nil ahead and that is to be learnt from.
Q: It must be pleasing to see Jacob on the scoresheet as, naturally, you don't want to rely too much on your strikers to get the goals?
A4: We never mind who scores our goals and it’s pleasing to not become reliant on any one individual.
Vadaine scored a great header and it was the topping on an excellent performance. Jacob scored with a brilliant volley but his ability can never be questioned. 
Q: Oxford applied heavy pressure in spells and although they will feel they should have made their territory count for more, Jack Bonham and our defence deserve credit for putting bodies on the line and keeping their defensive shape?
A5: With the quality of player Oxford have assembled it would be a disaster if they were not fighting for a top two place, but I really think they will.
The big resources gives them the option to get the likes of Matty Taylor, Sean Clare and even Sam Winnall coming on as a substitute yesterday, so our task was always going to be tough.
The lads worked so hard and we already know we have a top goalkeeper in Jack Bonham and I knew he would need to be at the top of his game.... he was.
Q: Jordan Graham scored the all important third goal for us. His spell of positive form must be encouraging?
A6: Jordan set up the first goal with a peach of a cross and scored the third with a beautiful volley.
The kid is a beautiful human being, he really is a wonderful kid who is loving his football at present. I have no doubt he will get better, he has so much more to give.
If he has a downside it’s his dodgy gear, he really needs to sort it .... haha!
Q: In your own words you "found a way to win" against Oxford. How do you go about telling the players that standards must be met and the most important game is the next one?
A7: We talk about standards every day. As a player you only improve when you give everything to reach those standards every single day, but thankfully we have a squad of young men full of them.
Our only focus is a tough game at MK Dons next Saturday, the planning for that has already started.
Q: We don't have a midweek fixture. What is the plan for the week ahead?
A8: The boys will work hard, hopefully be focused and ready for Saturday.
If you fail to plan in football then for me you plan to fail and that can never be an option.
With such a young squad there is so much enthusiasm and spirit. I really love working with these kids and as long as they are listening, working hard and learning, we will improve.
Q: October 16 is the deadline for domestic transfers. Can we expect 1 or 2 new faces before we head to MK Dons?
A9: If we add to the squad it must be a player who can bring something extra to us.
I will continue my chat with the Chairman as there is certainly one I would like to bring in, but of course it must be affordable.
This week we are also boosted by the returns of Kyle Dempsey, Scott Robertson, Matty Willock and Tommy O’ Connor, so really tough competition for a place will be with us for the first time this season.
Let our focus remain on working hard, improving our quality on the ball and not forgetting allowing this very young squad to enjoy what they do!

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