Reaction from Stuart O'Keefe.
Stuart O’Keefe caught the eye with his man-of-the-match display as Gillingham impressively defeated his former team, MK Dons, 3-2 on Tuesday evening.
The midfielder, who had a huge influence on the result with his tough tackling and crisp distribution, now has his sights set on Ipswich, a club where his football life began as a schoolboy.
O’Keefe, a frustrated spectator for much of the season at Gillingham after suffering a broken leg and ligament damage in the opening week of the campaign, surprised many by returning so quickly. Since his return he has not looked like a man who has missed six months of football, and was singled out by manager Steve Evans as the star performer on Tuesday.
The battling-midfielder spoke to the local media after the MK victory to discuss the team’s performance, Saturday’s clash with his hometown side and his hopes of making a late run for the play-offs.
MK Dons win
“Hard-fought are the right words to sum that game up. Everyone had to do their jobs and work their socks off. Credit to a man, everyone did that for 95 minutes. We managed to get the win that we deserved last Saturday against Portsmouth.
“We were in our shells and giving too much respect early on. We had to change shape. The second we changed shape and were able to get close to them, we forced them into mistakes.
“We had some good chances to go 3-2 ahead, we were disappointed to go in at half time 2-2, but at least we were able to change the aspect of the game and put our stamp on it, which was vital.
“There were some excellent finishes. You need to take your chances against good opposition otherwise you can fall the wrong side of results. We took our finishes well and it is encouraging.
“It was a great performance from everyone. Sometimes you get what you deserve and sometimes you don’t. With the effort we put in away at Portsmouth we deserved something a little more but you don’t always get that. For us to get a fantastic win tonight against good opposition, and make no mistake they have some good experienced players, it is excellent.”
Feeling fit and keeping positive
“That’s the best I have felt. Fitness is the main part of my game. I like to add some energy and bite into the midfield, I like to put a little bit of snap in the middle.
“I haven’t played much football so I am relatively fresh, some people may have played 30 games. Hopefully that can be a positive for me for the last third of the season.
“When you get your rewards for working so hard it makes it a bit better and a bit sweeter.”
Consistency is key
“If you want to achieve anything, with the points tally that we have, then we are going to have to win as many as we can. Let’s just go for it; take the shackles off and play without fear and see where we are. Then is no reason why we can’t beat anyone.
“It’s vital to be consistent if you want to achieve something at any level. We have a lot of games ahead; we have three lots of Saturday then Tuesday games coming up. We have to be consistent, workmanlike and be ‘on it’ every day. We can’t afford to be ‘off it’ or our results will fluctuate and we will just stay where we are. For the last third of the season we need to be consistent, professional and honest and we will see where we will end up at the end of the year.”
Ipswich this weekend
“We will enjoy the rest of the week and look forward to Ipswich. We are positive and upbeat going into the Ipswich game. We want to get some momentum going and see where we can get.
“Ipswich is where I was born, my parents live up that way and I was there as a schoolboy. I have a lot of contacts up there.
“They are a big side at this level and we expect nothing other than a tough game but if we put it on them and do what we do and stick to our strengths then we can beat anyone in this league.
“We are looking forward to it. It’s a tough challenge but one we are excited about. Hopefully we can get a positive result.”