Donacien: This League is All About Momentum
Sunday, 19th Sep 2021 11:24
Right-back Janoi Donacien believes that League One is all about momentum and hopes he and his team-mates can now build on Saturday’s first victory of the season at Lincoln City.
Macauley Bonne headed Town’s winner on the half hour, the on-loan QPR striker’s fifth of the season and his fourth in his last three games, ending a seven-league-game wait for victory.
Donacien was one of the Blues’ star performers, keeping Anthony Scully, one of Lincoln’s biggest threats, quiet throughout the afternoon.
“It felt really good to get our first win,” the St Lucia-born full-back said. “We’ve had a few close ones, but today we got over the line with some resilient defending, our positioning was terrific, as a team we defended so, so well. It felt really good.”
Had he felt the win was coming? Was it a good week in training? “I felt like the win was going to come every time we went into training, it was just getting it right on the day and before today it hasn’t gone right for us, but today it has.”
Asked whether he was surprised it had taken so long for the first win to come, he responded simply, “Yes”.
It was a performance of two halves against the Imps with the Blues playing some good football in the first before showing defensive determination in the second.
“I think we’re a good football team,” the former Accrington man insisted. “We showed that with the ball we’re fantastic in the first and showed in the second half that without the ball we’re really good.”
He added: “This league is all about momentum, you take one win at a time and you just build and you build slowly and slowly and then hopefully something good happens.”
Boss Paul Cook has endured a tough period with his father Chris having died just over a week ago, while he has admitted that football-wise he has been going through his toughest spell in management.
Donacien says the players talked about showing their manager he had their support.
“We did, we spoke about it in our chat, ‘The gaffer needs us, he needs us to back him, we need to show that we are backing the gaffer’," he said. “I think we did that and we’re so pleased for him.”
On the mood in the dressing room afterwards, he said: “Obviously the lads are buzzing, we won our first game of the season, but we want more.
“We’re happy with today but we want more, we want the whole performance, we want the first half in the second half, we want the whole performance.”
The Luton-raised defender was delighted for the 1,710 travelling fans giving the team their backing from behind the goal.
“It was very good, at the end of the game there was a sigh of relief because the whistle’s gone,” he continued. “I looked over and the fans were bouncing at the top end. It’s really good, I hope everyone gets home safe.”
That whistle came after seven minutes of added-on time. “I didn’t even know how long it was,” the 27-year-old admitted. “It felt like a long time, I didn’t even see the board.”
He believes Town can still challenge at the top of the table despite the slow start to the campaign.
“Of course, we’ve got so much quality here, all we have to do is just put it together,” he said.
Donacien was making his first league start of the season having replaced Kane Vincent-Young in the first half of last week’s 5-2 home defeat by Bolton. The two look set to battle for the position throughout the season, which the one-time Aston Villa youngster says is a good thing.
“I think there’s competition all over the pitch,” he said. “Whether it’s me and Kane, at left-back Penney and Hayden, at centre-back when Toto [Nsiala] comes back. There’s competition everywhere, which is very good, it’s healthy for the boys.
“We’ll keep working, I know he’s got my back, I’ve got his back, everyone’s got each other’s backs and we grind together, we work hard together and the end of the season will come together and hopefully we’ll be somewhere nice.”
Donacien dovetailed well with right winger Wes Burns, the two having played together last season during the right-back’s loan spell with Fleetwood, although not as often as he would have liked.
“When I went to Fleetwood, I didn’t really get to play with him as much as I wanted to, but hopefully I can do here now,” he said.
Donacien was many people’s pick as Town’s man of the match, but when asked whether he was happy with his display he remained modest.
“Yes, but it’s one win, it’s one game I want to go into the next one and carry the same form into that, and that’s it.”
The right-back was the only starter in Saturday’s side who was with the club prior to the summer.
He says he spoke with manager Paul Cook having returned from his loan and was told he would get his chance this season.
“The gaffer just said that I will play, so got my head down and just worked hard and that’s it,” he said. “I’m happy.”
Asked if he’d like to be at the club for a long time, having been signed by Paul Hurst in the summer of 2018, he said: “Hopefully, I like it here!”
Donacien can play at centre-half as well as both full-back roles, which he says counts in his favour.
“That’s a conversation I had with the gaffer as well about me playing in other positions, we’ll see what happens.”
Quizzed on whether Cook sees him primarily as a right-back, he said: “Wherever the manager sees me, if I play I’ll be over the moon, that’s it.”
Despite the summer of change, Donacien says the players have all got on well from the off.
“To be fair, from day one everyone that’s come here has been welcomed because we’re all good guys here, everyone here has been welcomed, they’ve been shown around,” he said. “It’s all fitting together.”
Has he felt like one of the elder statesmen at the club with only Luke Woolfenden having made his Town debut earlier? “It’s mad isn’t it? After Teddy left and came here [I’ve been here one of the longest] on and off.”
Despite having been at the club just over three years, yesterday was only Donacien’s 24th league start having spent time on loan back at his former club Accrington as well as with the Cod Army last season.
“It’s football, it seems to work out in that way,” he said reflecting on his Town careers. “You just work hard and then just keep persevering and you just try your hardest.”
This season Donacien has switched to wearing the number 44 shirt having worn 12 last year and two in the previous two campaigns.
“Number four is my favourite number,” he said explaining his choice. “Chambo was four last year, you don’t want to jump in there, that’s a big number, Raks [Rekeem Harper] can handle it. Forty-four’s a good number. I love it.”
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