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Interviews

Maamria Delighted With Two Wins In A Week

2 February 2020

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The Head Coach was pleased he side could build on from Tuesday night's performance with another dominant display in front of the Boundary Park faithful.

Speaking after the 3-0 win against Bradford, Maamria was especially pleased with the clean sheet as building from solid foundations is key for his vision going forwards.

"It was very good, we didn't concede and I love keeping clean sheets because I was disappointed on Tuesday with conceding in the last kick of the game.

"The way we started the game was tremendous and the team keeps growing in confidence and belief.

"We had 26 shots and I think they got away with 3-0. I can't believe in the second-half we didn't score more goals but that's not down to a lack of effort because their keeper made some unbelievable saves and the ball didn't fall for us at times.

"But as an attacking threat as a team we were outstanding. We played good football through the thirds which is something we've been working on.

"It's good to have a settled team together. The only negative being Zak Dearnley's injury, who came off after having a brilliant start and getting his first goal of the season.

"We'll look after Zak though and he'll come back stronger from it. But what a performance and what a result."

Kick-off for the fixture was delayed by half-an-hour due to an unsafe advertising board at the top of the Jimmy Frizzell Stand due to high winds, but the Head Coach said although it wasn't ideal they took the slight disruption in their stride.

"It was testing, like it would be for anyone when the game gets delayed so I really just let the lads chill out. 

"I didn't speak to them till 2:30pm and at quarter-to-three we went out and did the warm-up, so we tried to manage the situation by watching a bit of TV and then I spoke to them at the right times to make sure we were focused on the game.

"We did that, it could've been a distraction sometimes but we used it to our advantage being at home in familiar surroundings and I'm delighted for our fans today, a big turnout, a local game and I've emphasised about that as well.

"It's a performance for the fans who are remembering one of their own who passed away. A lot of things played a part in that performance and that is dedicated to all those who believed in us."

On an emotional day after the passing of lifelong Latics fan, Lee Marland, Maamria said it was something that was mentioned by the players ahead of kick-off to go out and put on a performance for those that support the club.

"I spoke about Lee, I spoke about what it means to our fans. What it means to the owner who has been backing us, as I thought we've had a brilliant January transfer window.

"They are our motivation with togetherness. The squad like I've been saying, the past three or four weeks I haven't seen a squad more together than now."

He added: "It's clear to see. You look at how strong our bench is, you look at the lads who didn't make the 18. But if you see them in the dressing room before and after the game celebrating together, that tells you what you need to know.

"Spirit is important in football. I want to get this spirit going at this football club and its still small steps forward, we're not going to get carried away with anything. Yes, it's two games won and was a good week.

"Since the comeback in the second-half against Salford in testing conditions, we had a lot of criticism thrown at us and rightly so, but it shows b******* (guts), if you don't mind me saying, and we certainly showed we have a lot of that."

Dearnley scored the opening goal of the game against the Bantams after capitalising on a defensive error, but going off in the first-half after pulling up the diagnosis at full-time was positive with the striker set to be out for only a short while.

"With Zak I know how much of a talent he is for us and I've been trying to hold him back. He's not played properly for seven months but we know what he is capable of.

"Chucking him on Tuesday and putting in the performance he did and coming back again it's damned if I start with him, damned if I'd have rested him. 

"But I was happy I started with him because he gave us that first goal with a quality finish and sometimes that will happen but what we've got to do is assess it and look after it.

"Maouche came into that position as a second centre-forward and was outstanding though."

With six goals at home in a week, the Tunisian admitted it comes from a strong defensive unit that he's been building since he arrived.

"We like to attack from a good solid defensive base. When you've got good defenders in our back four in the likes of Hamer, Wheater and Piergianni who are true defenders with Cameron [Borthwick-Jackson] giving us quality on the ball.

"I think then we can afford to have a loose front four. All what I did really over the past two or three weeks, giving that we've not been scoring too many goals, a lot of work has been giving those front four a bit of freedom and movement.

"We needed a more clinical edge, by getting shots away in the attacking third. It's good that it's been working and I'm delighted with the clean sheet as well. Like I said, I'm big on clean sheets and over five games we've conceded three goals, it's a good return and scored six in two games.

"I would've liked more, especially after this performance but we'll take that and move up the table after six games unbeaten and it'll give us confidence with the squad we have to attack the next three months of the season now."

With confidence growing and a strong team spirit being built, it's the work ethic of the team that has been highlighted to play for each other and most importantly the pride of wearing the badge.

"We do glorify a lot of things when we do the video sessions with the players. One of the things I showed them was from Tuesday night when Jonny Smith lost the ball and Danny Rowe tracked 15 yards back to tackle his man, so we glorify those things as they're big moments.

"Danny Rowe as much as he is gives us the goals and quality going forward, he does that as well and Jonny Smith will do that too. We also saw Maouche defending from the front and that's what Oldham fans expect from the players and that's what relate to them and that's why we get this backing.

"The players do appreciate that but the onus is always on us. We've got to show the fans that we care about the shirt, we care about our performance and they back us which they always do."

He continued: "The group are together and we've got 15 games left so a lot of them will play football. The squad is still a little bit heavy and we are still looking to get one or two out because I like working with small squads really.

"But the competition is healthy, the most important thing is the team performing and winning games and the dressing room is buzzing there, including the players who have or haven't played and the players all understand that and the role they have."


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