WE produced probably our best performance of the season to beat Oxford in midweek and another display like that against Cheltenham today should see us right back in the hunt for a play-off place.
That result, our first win since Boxing Day, was massive because we all know it’s been a difficult few months for the club with all the postponements.
If we’d lost, especially after the 3-0 defeat at Hartlepool last week, then we probably would have been looking over our shoulders a bit towards the teams at the other end of the table.
It was that big and I’m so pleased that the boys managed to get the three points.
It was the perfect start to our run of five home games and it sets us up perfectly to take on the Robins this afternoon and Wimbledon next Tuesday.
After that we welcome two top teams to Rodney Parade in Scunthorpe and Fleetwood but if we can get nine points from 12 in these next four games we’ll be flying again.
We need to do that because we all know that at this stage you’d really rather have the points on the board than the games in hand and we need to keep up the pressure on our rivals for a top-seven spot.
As pleased as I was with the result against Oxford it was a night of mixed emotions for me. I was delighted for the boys and the fans as well but as a player not involved it was difficult to watch.
Every player wants to play and I’m no different so I have to be honest and admit I didn’t really enjoy watching the game.
Ryan Burge, Adam Chapman and Lee Minshull all played superbly in central midfield and we now have a lot of competition with nearly everyone fit.
As well as those three in the middle I’m competing with Max Porter and we also have our skipper David Pipe and Tom Naylor who can play in there and do an excellent job. So I know that it will be tough to regain my starting place.
It’s always disappointing being left out of the squad and I’ll admit that I have been quite down about it this week.
But I think I’ve handled it better than I did as a young player and I have had a good chat with the gaffer.
He has his views and I have mine and we respect each other but we don’t always have to agree!
I’ve told him I’m determined to win back my place and I know that with the backlog of fixtures – we play nine times in March alone – that every member of the squad will be needed.
I’ll get my chance sooner rather than later and I have to grab it with both hands when it comes because I’m 33 now and I probably won’t get too many more chances to help my home town team to another promotion.
Last weekend’s trip to Hartlepool was even worse than Tuesday for me. Nobody likes spending the best part of 15 hours in a coach on a 600-mile round trip but if you’re then sitting in the stands it’s even less fun.
It was good to catch-up with my old Bradford coach Colin Cooper who is now in charge at Victoria Park and doing a very good job.
Other than that the only plus was the chance for all of us to get to know the new guys in the squad.
I’ve written before about how we make all the new arrivals sing for their supper on their first overnight away trip.
A few of them have got away with it for too long but we got everyone to perform last Friday night on our romantic Valentine’s stay in Middlesbrough.
I have to tell you that Rene Howe’s singing was absolutely atrocious and we booed him off but Shaun Jeffers, Elliot Parish and Aaron Holloway all entertained us with their warbling.
Thankfully Rene showed he’s got the X Factor on the pitch on Tuesday because I wouldn’t advise him to give up the day job!
All the new boys have settled in well and as one of the older pros I’ve tried to help them integrate into the group as much as possible.
That’s important because we need to be singing from the same hymn sheet if we want to achieve our goals.