Jackson: We're Trying to Find the Right Balance
Sunday, 6th Dec 2020 19:32
Striker Kayden Jackson was delighted to net his first goal of the season as the Blues beat Plymouth Argyle 2-1 at Home Park on Saturday, but admitted the performance might have been better.
Jackson, who has missed much of the campaign having suffered a groin problem and then after contracting Covid-19 and was making inly his third league start of 2020/21, hit home the Blues’ winner in the 74th minute, a minute after Jon Nolan had grabbed Town’s leveller, one-time Town target Danny Mayor having been dismissed for a second bookable offence only three minutes prior to the two goals.
Reflecting on the victory and the overall display, Jackson said: “The performance could have been better. We’re trying to find the right balance between keeping the ball and threatening their goal as well.
“But I think ultimately if you can come away from home, make an eight-hour trip and take the three points, you can’t get better than that.”
The 26-year-old was pleased with the character he and his team-mates showed having gone behind to Luke Jephcott’s 14th minute opener for the Pilgrims.
“When they went ahead and then I wasted the opportunity to level before the break, you’re thinking ‘Not that again, not another one of these weeks’.
“But I think the lads dug in, we created chances, we got bodies forward. You saw Wardy [Stephen Ward] up there, Keanan [Bennetts] up there. We’ve got options. We’ve got good delivery from wide areas and it paid off.”
Regarding that first-half chance, which came when Jack Lankester’s deflected pass saw him through on goal, Jackson felt rustiness may have come into it.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been in that position but I should have done better,” he admitted.
“I’ve been working hard so that when I’m in that position next I can take the opportunity but I’m happy to get the winner today and hopefully I can kick on now.”
Reflecting on his winning goal, a low left-footed strike into the corner after Oli Hawkins had chested down Ward’s cross from deep on the left, he added: “I don’t think you can’t ask for any more [as a striker]. Wardy put the ball in and Hawks touched it perfectly on to my left foot. I was always confident I was going to find the corner.”
Jackson praised Ward’s delivery, the veteran Irishman also having crossed for Nolan’s goal, and what the 35-year-old has brought to the club having signed in the summer after leaving Stoke City.
“Fair play to him, you can see why he’s had the career he’s had,” the Bradford-born frontman said.
“He’s been at the top level for years and years and you see that left foot. I remember watching the Premier League as a kid and seeing him putting in balls like that, so it’s good to be playing with him. I think he’s a really good asset for the team.”
Jackson’s last goal, or goals as he scored twice, came in the 4-1 home win against Burton Albion in February. However, he says he was more concerned about his injury issues than not having scored so far this season.
“More fitness-wise,” he said. “I wanted to work on my fitness and I’ve been struggling since the Tottenham [pre-season] game, I’ve had little problems which I haven’t had over my career.
“I tend to stay reasonably fit and avoid the problems that I’ve had recently but I think with the lay-off, I think it was nine months between competitive games that I played, it’s always going to happen.
“I’ve put in a lot of work with the medical team, BY [head physio Matt Byard], Al [assistant physio Alex Chapman] and Walshy [sports therapist Tom Walsh], and hopefully now I can kick on. I’m feeling a lot better physically, hopefully the form comes with that.”
He says the goal will give him confidence ahead of the games to come and otherwise he might have spent too much time ruminating on the one that got away in the first half.
“If I’d have walked away from this it having ended one-all or if we’d lost, I probably would have been thinking about the opportunity I had in the first half for a bit too long,” he admitted.
“But, to be honest, that’s gone now. All I can remember is the goal that I scored. Hopefully, there are many more to come.”
Jackson played most of the game as a lone central striker before being joined by Hawkins when he came off the bench in the 65th minute.
“In the first half, I had bodies around me which was good,” Jackson recalled. “When a ball came into me I felt like I did OK in bringing others into play, lads that were running off me and coming in to support me. I felt I did OK.
“But obviously when Hawks comes on it gives us a different dimension. Hawks naturally peels and looks to bring players like myself into play and the goal showed perfectly what we could do as a two if given the opportunity.
“But as a player I’m just happy to be in the team and play and hopefully help the team win games.”
Asked whether he was happy with his hold-up and link-up play in the first half, he added: “I think a lot’s been said about whether I can do it or not. If the balls are good enough into me and I have runners around me, I’ve always been confident in my ability.
“I think it depends as a striker, when you’re isolated it can look like, ‘He’s not good enough, he can’t play that role, his touch isn’t good enough’ or this or that. But when you’ve got bodies around you it’s a lot easier to play up there.”
Jackson doesn't envy defenders battling with Hawkins: “He’s a nightmare to play against. Even the ones that he chased down and threw his arms into a few of their lads’ faces, that sums him up perfectly.
“He’s a handful and just having him on the pitch creates a disturbance among their defenders and that’s why I was able to get the space that I could for the goal.”
Looking back at the two away games, the 0-0 draw at Oxford prior to Saturday’s win at Home Park, the former Accrington man said: “As a group we looked at Tuesday night and thought the least we had to come out of that was a clean sheet and a point there.
"You don’t realise what a clean sheet and a point away from home can do for you confidence-wise. It gives you a lot to build on and we got a big win away from home and hopefully we can take that into Portsmouth next week.”
Asked whether it was important to get fans back on side given the fractious mood over the last week, particularly as 2,000 will be back at Portman Road for Pompey's visit next Saturday, Jackson said: “Yes, I just hope that it can be a positive atmosphere. I think if you asked the Plymouth lads if it made a difference, it definitely did.
“I’m not sure how many they had in here today, if it was 2,000 [it was 1,808] but if felt and sounded like a lot more than 2,000. I’ve played in front of 2,000 and you can have more noise at a funeral.
“I think they can definitely help us and hopefully everything can be put aside and they’ll concentrate on the game we’ll hopefully win the game for the fans.”
Asked by a Devon-based reporter what’s behind the negativity at Town with the Blues third in the table, Jackson said: “There’s obviously a lot going on in the background but as players you just want to concentrate on the games and the performances, and most importantly the points.
“The fact that we are third in the table shows that you can’t have done a lot wrong. It’s not been perfect, we’ll admit to that as players but we’re working hard and, with the injuries that we’ve had, luck hasn’t been on our side but we showed today that we’ll put in the work and fight for the points and fight for the team.”
Can a result like Saturday’s provide a kickstart? “Definitely, the momentum we can take from that second half today, from the spell when we got the goals and we were on top, it goes to show that we can create problems for team and we can score goals. Hopefully the confidence can help us next time.”
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