Woolfenden: It's Now Or Never
Thursday, 20th Jan 2022 06:00
Town defender Luke Woolfenden agrees it’s a case of now or never in terms of mounting the level of challenge necessary to capture a play-off place and keep alive the dream of promotion back to the Championship.
Despite the disappointing 2-0 loss at Bolton last week, as the Blues suffered their first defeat since new boss Kieran McKenna took charge last month, Town remain eight points adrift of sixth-placed Oxford United but insist they can be caught.
Victory on Saturday over an Accrington Stanley side currently one place and point ahead of them in the League One table looks like a must for McKenna’s men as they seek to close the gap between them and the play-off zone over their 20 remaining fixtures.
But Woolfenden knows that to have any chance they must achieve the sort of consistency between now and the end of April that has deserted them so far in the current campaign, the Blues’ best run of league form this season seeing them unbeaten over four games in October last year while Paul Cook was still in charge.
“The inconsistency is something we have been desperate to put right,” said the 23-year-old defender.
“It has happened a few times this season, where we’ve thought ‘Now we’ll kick on’ and it just hasn’t happened like that.
“But we need to keep working on it, although to be fair the Wycombe and Gillingham games were good signs and while the Bolton result wasn’t a good sign I thought there were parts of the performance that would be encouraging for the manager.
“It was probably a game that, if anything, it should have ended nil-nil. I don’t think it was a game that either team really did enough to win and probably neither team really deserved to lose, the way it was going.
“If anything, we probably controlled the game better in the second half, which was what made it frustrating because we conceded two really poor goals.
“We have to go on a serious run now because the games tend to fly by at this stage of the season.
“It’s pretty much Saturday-Tuesday for the rest of the season, so we need to get the results and the consistency we need to go on a run.
“We’ve got eight points to make up to get into the play-offs and the only way we can do it is by putting a run together.
“I haven’t given any thought to next season and what happens if we miss out this time round. Right now I think everyone is fully focused on this season because we all believe we can still do it. It’s been done before and the way our performances have been going I don’t think there’s any reason why we can’t do it now.”
Life under new boss McKenna is going well for academy graduate Woolfenden, who was enlisted at the age of 11 when he was attending East Bergholt High School. He progressed to make his senior debut in August 2017 in a 2-0 win over Luton in the League Cup and in April the following year he made his first Championship appearance in a 4-0 victory at Reading.
He added: “I feel it’s been going really well with the new manager and I really enjoy the way we play. The training sessions are really good, as are the gym sessions, which are well worked, and the strategies towards the game plan as well. It has been really enjoyable.
“I think he believes in everyone and with the way we play out from the back he’s told me that I suit the way he wants us to play.
“I think there are times when it opens up for me to go forward, which is something that when I first came into the team it was probably taken away from me as I went on to make more appearances.
“I had to be more of a defender than concentrating on trying to get forward but hopefully I can now get back to playing how I was when I first got into the team.”
Asked if former manager Cook maybe didn’t fully believe in him, Woolfenden replied: “I don’t think it was that. When results aren’t going well and you’ve spent a lot of money on centre-backs you are going to have to play them at some point. He made that pretty clear to me, to be fair, and I had no problem with it.
“When he took me out of the team he said I was playing well but results weren’t going well and we were conceding a lot of goals, so he had to try something else, which was fair enough.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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