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In his own words: Phil Parkinson post-Sunderland

20 February 2018

Zach Clough’s first goal since returning to the club saw Wanderers move four points clear of the Sky Bet Championship bottom three with a 1-0 win against Sunderland on Tuesday night.

The first half strike proved decisive, with Ben Alnwick in good form to protect his clean sheet and Jem Karacan unfortunate not to mark his return to the starting line up with a goal when his effort came back off the bar.

And speaking after the final whistle, manager Phil Parkinson covered the following topics.

On winning the relegation six-pointer…

It was a big game and a tough night because there was a lot at stake and we’re pleased with the points. It’s a big win because tonight the onus was on us, there was a different feel about the place and we had to dig deep and show a lot of resilience tonight and I’m very proud of the lads.

We had a big win live on TV against Bristol City but I’m more pleased with today because when a top six side comes there is not a great expectation.

Psychologically it was in the back of everyone’s minds that we last lost at home to a team below us in Burton, so I’m glad that we’ve managed to shake that off.

We can enjoy it because it’s good when you win these pressure games and they stand you in good stead because there’s going to be more and we’ve got to be ready for them.

On Zach Clough opening his account…

It was good for him to get off the mark. Those scrappy goals count just as much as a 20-yard screamer.

He came in and trained on Sunday and looked bright and scored a lot of goals and he linked up well with Aaron Wilbraham, so we decided to go with a front three tonight and when we got the ball into him and Sammy Ameobi he looked dangerous.

On Ben Alnwick’s performance…

I’m very pleased with his contribution and he’s a player that’s getting better all the time. He’s been immense for us.

It wasn’t just his saves today, but it was his all round game. He was coming out for crosses at the end and that’s what you need as a defender to see your goalkeeper coming and taking the pressure off you.

On the returning Jem Karacan and Aaron Wilbraham…

I thought Jem was sensational tonight. I’ve said many times about players who have been out of the team, how good it is to come back and play as they did and that goes for Jem and Wilbraham tonight.

I’ve got to give Aaron a special mention because he’s been out for two or three weeks and all he’s done is train on Sunday and come in to go through the team shape on Monday and he said he was 100% ready to put himself out there.

We made six changes which is always a gamble and I think the lads are understanding more that we have to do that because teams in the Championship need to change their team.

Tonight we played a few players that have had very limited game time recently because I thought tonight was a night for experienced players.

On the overall performance…

After we got the goal I thought that Sunderland played like they had nothing to lose and we relaxed a little bit and sat back too much, thinking the job was done, but it never is.

In the second half, we had some good chances. We hit the bar and Alfie had a great header and we came close to a second goal but when you don’t get it you’re always concerned you’ll get punished.

With six minutes being added on it meant we had to really dig deep but we did and I’m proud of the lads because we looked as though we were fatiguing as a team but in the end it was a terrific win for us.

And finally, looking ahead to Saturday’s clash with Norwich…

We’ve got a chance to go and watch them tomorrow night against Wolves and we’ll be able to get a good look at them.

With the injury to Josh Vela and Mark Little’s suspension we had to put a lot of thought into this team for tonight and now for Saturday, we can think long and hard about the selection and hopefully get the right one.


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