Judge: Week's Results Have Been Massive For Morale
Sunday, 28th Feb 2021 14:27
Goalscorer Alan Judge says this week’s back-to-back victories over Hull City and Doncaster Rovers have been “massive” for morale at Town.
The Blues had beaten none of the current top six until Tuesday when they defeated the Tigers 1-0 at the KCOM Stadium, then followed it up with yesterday’s 2-1 home win against Rovers. Judge believes it was important for the Blues to build on the victory at Hull.
“We knew we had a big run of fixtures coming up and we can only go one game at a time, and I feel that was a big win today,” the Dubliner said after yesterday’s match.
“We’re two points out [from the play-offs] but we can’t rest on that, we know there are a lot of big games to come and you just go one game at a time, and I think we’re doing OK at the moment.”
“There was no point in drawing against Oxford, then beating Hull and not continuing that on. I know it’s a cliché but we do literally do have to take it game by game at the moment.”
Regarding his excellent free-kick goal, Judge says he was helped by having trained alongside Doncaster keeper Ellery Balcombe at Brentford.
“I was saying to the boys, I played with Ellery, their goalkeeper, and I was used to putting a few past him in training,” he said. “So he knew I like to go over the wall, but luckily enough I just side-stepped and went the other way and it went in.”
Did Balcombe try to put him off? “I don’t think he could put me off that far out. It felt like an age for it to go in but it was great. I set it out from that far and it was nice just to see it go on.”
The Republic of Ireland international says he’s not had much time to practice free-kicks of late: “To be honest with you, because we have so many games, you don’t even get time at the training ground.
“You work on them continuously, they haven’t been great in the [recent] past but I was used to scoring a few free-kicks and luckily enough this one came off.”
Following a dismal 0-0 home draw with strugglers Northampton, the Blues have picked up seven points out of nine, having drawn against form side Oxford United at Portman Road prior to the back-to-back victories over Hull and Doncaster, their first since October.
Asked what’s made the difference, Judge said: “It’s hard. We’ve had some big players come back for us. James Wilson and Toto have come back and you can’t deny how big they’ve been for us.
“Kenny [Myles Kenlock] has come in and he’s done great. Wardy [Stephen Ward] had done nothing wrong, but we have got strength in depth. Flynn [Downes] didn’t start today.
“I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s back to basics. You can say what you want but we should have been doing this earlier on the season, and that’s down to the players.”
Having said recently that he wanted to play in central midfield, Judge has operated on the left in the last three games, but the 31-year-old says that’s no problem.
“I think I was only speaking to you a few weeks ago saying I was wanting to play in midfield but the gaffer wanted me to play on the wing,” he said. “But I’m happy to do that for the team. I’m not going to turn around and say no to a manager.
“I’m playing, I’m happy, the club have been great with me for things that are going on that moment personally. A solid base always puts you in good stead for going forward.”
Saturday’s goal was Judge’s third of the season and he believes he ought to be netting more regularly.
“I know I should have more but I just want to keep playing and take each game as it comes,” he said. “I just had a good feeling about today and luckily I was right.”
Judge says he enjoys playing with striker James Norwood, who scored the Blues’ other goal against Rovers.
“It was one of the big things when I signed my contract two years ago, I knew I’d be playing off him or playing in and around him,” he said. “I know what he likes to do. He’s a big character and I think we’ve seen what he brings to us.”
He says the performances and results over the last week have been a huge boost for morale: “Massive, massive. We’re two points off sixth.
“We’ve just got to take each game as it comes. There’s no point us looking ahead. Accy’s a big game on Tuesday. I like their team, I like the way they play, I like the players, so it’s another big game.”
The Blues are 14 points off the top and 10 off second with a game in hand on the top two. Is automatic promotion still a possibility with Town having 17 left to play.
“To be honest with you, I only saw that when I came out,” Judge said. “I haven’t really had a think about it. We’ve just got to go with it. Get ourselves in the play-offs first and these three games that have gone by, don’t let them be for nothing.”
He says confidence is growing and that the return of senior squad members has made a big difference.
“We’ve got some big players back for us, it was a lot for the young players are the start of the season to ask them to play Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday-Tuesday at this moment in time,” he reflected.
“We have a handful, maybe more than a handful of players, that have come back that are used to that and that will be good for the young players to see that because they’re really talented. I think everybody knows what we’ve got.
“I couldn’t tell you what it is, it just is what it is at the minute. It’s working for us. You can say back to basics, that bit of luck. But it’s working at this moment in time.”
Judge knows the importance of momentum and believes the Blues may be getting the rub of the green with a number of contentious decisions having gone against them earlier in the season.
“I think we are getting the bit of luck that we didn’t get earlier in the season when penalty decisions etc might have gone against us,” he said.
“As I said, we rode our luck a little bit in the first half, they hit the post, but I felt we had chances as well. I thought we looked a threat in the box and I thought Nors was unlucky that his header was cleared off the line.”
Judge believes fellow Irishman Troy Parrott can’t be too far away from his first senior goal having put in another all-action display against Rovers.
“Troy mightn’t be scoring at the minute but he’s bringing an awful lot to us,” he said. “He runs and runs and runs.
“Some people say ‘pointless running’, but would you rather have a player that doesn’t run and stands there and does nothing? He does an awful lot for us and his hold-up play for a 19-year-old is very good.”
Judge has also been impressed by Keanan Bennetts’s form since the on-loan Borussia Mönchengladbach wide man returned from a groin injury.
“He loves lining up full-backs and I can’t praise him enough,” he said. “It’s a big one for a young lad coming in, he’s been out for three months, and he gets us up the pitch. And now he’s starting to find his passes, getting the switch of plays and everything.”
The former Blackburn trainee was the subject of significant media attention following the Northampton match after referee Darren Drysdale squared-up to him having turned down his penalty call.
“As I said, that was the end of the issue when I finished [playing the game], Judge said. “It was blown out of proportion.
“All I know is that it was silly, it was silly. Referees are under a lot of pressure. Whether you believe it or not there actually wasn’t much said between me and Darren, otherwise I would have been reported and suspended.
“That’s it from me, end of story, I don’t want to see him being charged, this, that and the other. Let him get out there and do his job again.”
Town are in action again at Accrington on Tuesday evening, a ground where they have never won, although the clubs have only met twice, both in the last three seasons, a 1-0 FA Cup defeat in 2019/20 and last season’s 2-0 loss in League One.
“I wasn’t here for the FA Cup tie but I was here when we lost 2-0 in the league,” Judge recalled. “We’ve had two good results off them at home [4-1 and 2-0] and, as I said, I like their team. I like the way they play, their players are good, so we’ve just got to take it as it comes.”
Having won at Hull, Judge believes there’s no reason for the Blues not to pull off another away victory against Stanley.
“Exactly,” he said. “They’re a good team, I don’t know what the pitch will be like but we’ve just got to go and whatever the manager decides to do, we go with it and just keep going, just keep putting the pressure on.”
Photos: Matchday Images
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