The Richard Wood Column: 'Promotion is more important than time off'

By Paul Davis | 13/01/2020

The Richard Wood Column: 'Promotion is more important than time off'

THE lads were offered some time off by the gaffer after a hectic holiday spell but we said ‘No thanks’.

We’re in an automatic-promotion place in League One and none of the lads wanted to step off the gas.

Second spot, I’m pleased with that. I think now that we’re as high as that it’s opened up everybody’s eyes to the fact that we are capable of going up this season.

We’re in a great position and we just need to kick on and concentrate on every single game.

I said before Christmas that being in a play-off spot didn’t give me a psychological boost because a lot can change over the festive period.

But after Christmas it does give you a lift. Absolutely it does. Everyone is bang on it, in great spirits and ready to go.

That’s why we’ve been training this week. The gaffer wanted to give us a few days off but the players didn’t want that.

I had a discussion with most of the lads and then went and told the gaffer that we didn’t want days off and that we’d rather be in.

Christmas has been tough and we need to be wrapped in cotton wool to a certain extent, but at the same time we need to train and be ready for what’s coming up.

We’re focused. We have a massive game coming up on Saturday at Oxford United.

We don’t need days off. That’s the sort of lads we’ve got here. We want to win.

We’re going for promotion. That is our sole aim.

If we go up, that’s when we can have our days off and a bit of a party after that.

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WE were unlucky to lose 3-2 with ten men against Hull City at New York Stadium.

The Tigers didn’t do a great deal in the game until after an hour when they brought on their big guns, Jarrod Bowen, Kamil Grosicki and Jackson Irvine, and changed their formation.

Their last two goals shouldn’t have counted because there were offsides in the build-up. We played well. Going forward we looked good and scored some great goals. Kyle Vassell’s strike was unbelievable and Michael Smith’s goal was good too.

It’s a hard thing to criticise officials because we’re not supposed to do it, but I think everyone would agree they were poor against Hull.

We should have won that game. Subtract the two goals that shouldn’t have stood and it’s us in the fourth round.

We hold a very good defensive line and the offsides were as clear as day. Ben Wiles had to head the ball out for the corner that led to the winning goal. What else is he supposed to do when there is an opponent is behind him? Before he headed it there were four Hull players standing offside. The officials have got to intervene at that point.

Had VAR been in operation those last two goals would dhave been disallowed. VAR was used in some ties and not others. That’s not a fair situation.

There should be VAR at every cup game or at none of them. You can’t have one rule for some teams and a different rule for others.

We would have played Chelsea at home if we’d gone through. I’m old enough to not be too concerned about that. My kids were a bit upset when they heard the draw, though!

Stamford Bridge is one of only four Premier League grounds I haven’t played at – Old Trafford, Anfield and the new Spurs stadium are the others — so I would have liked to have played Chelsea at New York and got a replay.

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IT’S great to be playing again after my hamstring injury kept me out for most of November and December.

I’m feeling good. I was a bit worried going into the Hull FA Cup tie last weekend about how my hamstring would hold up. I’d played for more than an hour on December 29 against Peterborough United and then played a full game on New Year’s Day against Blackpool even though I’m not totally match-fit yet.

I’d not trained much coming into it because the games over Christmas come so thick and fast. I’d done all my physio and rehab but had had only bits of training.

Clark Robertson came off against Peterborough so I was thrown back in sooner than I was expecting.

The gaffer said to me before the Hull game: ‘You shouldn’t feel tired in the first half. Anybody can play the first half. It will be the second half when the fatigue sets in.’

Not with me! Ten minutes in, I’m thinking: ‘The gaffer is talking rubbish here!’ But I got through the game okay.

The fitness will come. Now that the games are more spread out I can recover properly and get in plenty of good training between matches. The hamstring is good.

Robbo is now out for a while. Fair play to him for hanging on for as long as he did because he’d been in pain with his groins for months.

We’re down on numbers defensively at the moment but I think we’ll be fine.

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THIS weekend we travel to Oxford to face an excellent U’s side.

They beat us 2-1 at New York and are the best team we have faced this season.

It’s going to be a good game. I’m looking forward to it. Our away form has been good all season, and I’m pleased to say that our home performances have picked up as well.

I think things are starting to click now. We did well over Christmas and we’re looking good. The lads are in high spirits.

I can’t put my finger on why we’ve suddenly clicked at home. Maybe it’s down to me coming back!

We know we’re one of the strongest teams in the division. We’re in the play-off positions and we haven’t even played well in a lot of games.

We haven’t been outplayed by anybody. When we’ve lost it’s been down to our lapses costing us.

I think we’re learning to play as a team and we’re learning what is working for us. The staff tell us all the time ‘Play forward, run forward’. I think that message is getting through.

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I KNOW a lot of fans like the transfer window, all the wheeling and dealing and comings and goings.

It doesn’t really affect the players, though. We just carry on as normal. Transfers are part and parcel of the game and we get used to them.

I think supporters get more hurt by departures and more excited by arrivals than players do.

Fans stay with their club for a lifetime while few players spend all of their careers in one place. Players come and go all the time.

If a teammate gets a good move you’re quite happy for him even though, obviously, you never want to see your side weakened.

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AFTER four games in ten days it was time to unwind a little after the Hull match.

On Saturday evening, me and Jade and our boys, Jenson and Graye, went out for something to eat at Harvey’s Bar and Kitchen in Huddersfield.

We like it there. It’s a nice place and only about five minutes from where we live. I had a jerk-chicken skewer and salad.

On Sunday, Jenson had football in the morning and at tea-time we went out for an Indian meal with my best mate and his family. We hadn’t seen much of them over Christmas.

The kids love an Indian — chicken tikka masala is their favourite. I had chicken tikka madras with a pickle tray and papadums.

That was local again — in Horbury Bridge. Two meals out in two days. I’m spoiling them!

Hull was the last game of a mental festive period with no days off so it was nice to have a bit of a release.

I’ve also done a touch of work this week at the play centre that Jade and I own. Jade runs it. I popped in to see her and it was absolutely rammed.

Because it was so busy I ended up helping out by doing a bit of serving. I was making and serving coffees – flat whites and all that. I’m a big coffee-lover so it was a dream job really!


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