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Paul Hurst post Oxford United

12 November 2016

Gaffer's thoughts after the win over Oxford

Paul Hurst described the support at Greenhous Meadow as “special”, as he oversaw an impressive 2-0 win over Oxford United in his first home league game in charge.

Goals from AJ Leitch-Smith and Shaun Whalley ensured that Town won their first league game since 3rd September and lifted themselves off the foot of the League One table.

The Town support was terrific throughout and Hurst admitted that the response to his side’s performance was very satisfying.

“That seemed a little bit special to me towards the end of the game, where they were getting behind the team when the team needed them.

“I thought they raised the volume, and it’s a very, very good day for everyone connected to the football club.”

AJ Leitch-Smith continued his superb run of form with his fourth goal in three games, and Hurst is understandably delighted with his impact so far.

“I think he’s got a grass burn on his nose! Initially I thought we’d missed the opportunity but he’s on a good run of form, he worked very hard.”

The boss also praised his squad for carrying out the instructions that have been relayed to them during the week.

Hurst continued: “They have listened to the information that’s been passed on, which is always pleasing as a manager.

“There has been occasions in my managerial career where you think ‘was I speaking Japanese during the week?’

“But at the minute it’s working, they’re playing with freedom, I think the first half was excellent, we controlled large parts of possession.”

Despite the control, Hurst is also wary of the danger of overplaying, but he wants his players to be able to express themselves for the good of the team.

“At times they made me panic, taking one or two unnecessary risks but you have to give them an element of freedom to express themselves.

“We don’t want robots out there, but I want people who are willing to work.”

Town have now kept clean sheets in each of their last three games, the first time they have managed that feat since March.

Hurst believes it is a result of every player being willing to work hard for the team and he praised the improvement that has been made in the last few games.

“It’s just a willingness to defend, a couple of the goals I’d seen maybe looked a bit easy, and maybe there wasn’t that desire.

“It’s about showing that aggression, and being proud to keep a clean sheet.”

Shaun Whalley’s late effort ensured the points after a second half where Town were put under a huge amount of pressure, and Hurst described his feelings upon seeing the ball hit the back of the net.

“Very different to the feeling I had when Chris Maguire was lining the free kick up.

“We know he’s got the pace so I didn’t expect him to be caught, I thought he might have looked to go round the keeper.”

Hurst also had plenty of praise for the team behind the team, praising his backroom staff for their efforts since he arrived at the club.

“The staff we have here, the analysts who’d looked at the games, they got everything spot on.

“Danny Coyne, as well, I think everything has recovered, and then a nice moment at the end when Shaun gets the goal, he ran over to Skitty [Chris Skitt, physio] and celebrating with him for getting him back fit and out on that pitch doing what he loves.”

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