Ward: As a Team We’ve Got to Be Better Going Forward
Sunday, 28th Mar 2021 15:43
Left-back Stephen Ward knows Town have to get back into winning form soon if they’re to be in the end-of-season play-off shake-up as games start to run out with the Blues having struggled for goals all season.
Ward was frustrated that the Blues weren’t able to find the goal which would have turned Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Wigan into a victory which would have put them level with Blackpool in the final play-off place.
“That’s the disappointing thing for us today,” the 35-year-old said when asked about Town’s frustrating afternoon in front of goal at the DW Stadium. “We just spoke about it in the dressing room.
“Plenty of opportunities to create more but just that final ball really let us down. We got into some great areas, I thought especially in the first half we played through the lines really well but it just seemed that no matter what we did [they were able to repel it].
“Give them credit as well, they defended well, anything that came into their box they dealt with, which I thought we did at the other end.
“We know that’s an area we really need to improve on going forward. But we’ve come to a tough place where they’ve picked up results recently, they’ve been doing a lot better.
“We’ve got to dust ourselves down, take the point, get back down the road and make sure we make this point count by going and getting three on Friday at our place.”
The stats make Town’s failings this season all too clear. The Blues are fifth in a League One table based on the fewest goals conceded and fourth-bottom on goals scored.
“It’s always pleasing to get a clean sheet,” Ward continued. “I think as a team, we’ve got to be better going forward. We can’t just put all the pressure on the lads at that end of the pitch, we know we’ve got the capabilities.
“Whether it’s just a bit of confidence that we need, we maybe need just one to go in any which way, but it just seemed that no matter what we did today they had an answer for it, which is disappointing because as a team we’ve got players in there that can create chances and it just didn’t happen for us today.
“But as a whole, I think performance-wise we controlled a lot of the game, especially in the first half and we were disappointed not to come in with a lead at half-time, if I’m being truly honest.”
The result leaves the Blues 11th but only two points off the play-offs, although having played a game more than the Seasiders in sixth, with 10 matches left with Bristol Rovers at Portman Road on Good Friday and Town visiting Rochdale on Easter Monday. Ward believes Town can get into the top six if they can get some momentum going.
“I think the position that we’re in is one we’ve got to be positive about,” he reflected. “I know it’s only a point on the board today but we’ve come away from home again, we’ve two massive games next weekend where we’ll aim for maximum points.
“But it’s so tight, we just need to go on a run. We were hoping that would start today with a victory, we’ve got a point, we have to dust ourselves down. The manager is very meticulous here, he knows the areas we need to improve.
“We’re working extremely hard on the training ground, extremely hard to improve in those areas and improve our style and how he wants us to play and that’s what we’re going to do this week.
‘We’re going to work very hard and we have to turn this point into a really good one by going and putting in a performance on and getting the maximum on Friday.”
Cook said after the game that there were too many players looking for others to make something happen.
“From my point of view, I think the manager’s come in, there are a lot of players here, but a lot of good players and we’ve got to take responsibility ourselves,” Ward said when asked whether he agreed with that assessment. “We’re the ones out there on the pitch, we’re the ones that can affect the games.
“The manager, the staff can only do as much as they can throughout the week. They’ve given us game plans, they’ve set us up well and then it’s up to us to go out and perform.
“We’ve got to shoulder the responsibility, we know we can be better in the final third, we know, we see it in training, we see what we can do and it’s about bringing that into a Saturday, into a Tuesday or whenever we play.
“And that’s got to be the case going forward. We’ve got to still believe we can get into these play-offs because it’s so close.
“We’ve got a run of games where you we hope can pick up some valuable points and stay in with the push.
“I think most importantly, you see it a lot of times throughout seasons, teams that finish strongly tend to go into these play-offs in good form, and that’s what we need to do because we’ve got 10 massive games ahead of us.”
However, he knows time is running out to find that form: “We don’t want to run out of games either. We wanted it to start today, like I said, it just wasn’t to be our day in front of goal.
“We got into a lot of good areas, balls went across the face and, like I said, credit to them, they defended for their lives, they’re battling as well to get as many points as they can to stay in the league.
“They defend well, we know it’s got to be better, we know we can do better but we got into some great areas today and for whatever reason it didn’t fall for us.
“We have to take the positives in terms of it being a point, there are 10 games left, there’s plenty of time to go on a run but we don’t want to run out of games either, we want to make sure that starts as quickly as possible.”
Last week saw manager Cook able to get his players on the training field for a prolonged period of time for the first time since he took charge and with the Blues not in action until Friday, he has the opportunity to do the same in the days ahead.
“It’s difficult for a manager when they come in during the season, he’s trying to get his style of play across, what he wants from us and we’re really working hard at that,” Ward continued. “I think you can see glimpses of it in games.
“You want to work hard on the training pitch, that’s what you want to do. He’s meticulous in how he wants us to play but he also gives us that freedom.
“We’re working really hard on the training pitch and hopefully we can reap the benefits of that come Friday because we had a good week’s training and we came into this game full of confidence.
“Sometimes you get these games where the ball just doesn’t fall for you in the opposition box, that was the case today. But I think as a team, we look solid, for most parts of the game we controlled it.
“But we know there are always areas to improve. He wants us to improve, he wants us to get better, we want to get better as a squad and we’ll work hard again this week and come into two massive games next weekend.”
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