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Interviews

Maamria Looking Forward To Return

14 January 2020

Head Coach Dino Maamria makes his first visit back to Stevenage this evening as he takes on his former boss Graham Westley in what should be an interesting encounter.

Despite the connections he has at the Lamex, the Tunisian was quick to focus on the task in hand after the game at Macclesfield.

Speaking ahead of the appeal outcome to Wheater's dismissal, which was successful shows the strength of feeling Maamria had when the incident occurred.

"When we watched the game back, in the first-half the conditions were really difficult with a lot of wind and the pitch was dry with no grass. They played the conditions much better than us and were first to the first and second balls especially in the middle of the park.

"We adjusted a couple of things in the second-half and saw a vast improvement. We're just lacking that edge to score goals as we keep creating a lot of chances but we're not scoring.

"We've got to make sure we're more clinical because if we score that first chance we had we would've won that game two or three.

"Leaving it late on we're all disappointed with how the game ended. We've already spoken about the officials decision which was really poor and we've appealed Wheater's red card and rightly so.

"It wasn't deliberate, it hit his hip and for them to give the red card and penalty was pretty harsh."

Maamria added: "We need to be more streetwise on the pitch because their players had a massive impact on the referee to change his decision, however we don't want our players surrounding the referee because that's something we don't tolerate.

"We want to stay professional and we should trust the referee to do their job but we can certainly keep their players away from referees and is something we should learn from.

"I've showed the players a couple of things we can do better going forwards and hopefully we can get that right now."

Moving on quickly means Latics take part in their third successive away fixture in what is testing week but the Head Coach cannot deny that the game this evening carries an extra importance for himself personally.

"It's a different game. I can't say it's a normal game, it's not a normal game it's always going to be mentioned that it's me going back there with my ex-manager Graham Westley.

"I'm delighted for him to be back at the club. It was always going to be a different occasion but my players need and I know will focus on the game and the two teams that are going to cross the white line.

"I'm sure they'll try and play with a point to prove. I'm surprised with the squad they have, they've got a good squad, good players and a very good manager. I'm surprised they've not managed to get out of their situation but I'm confident they will go on and I'm sure Graham will get them going to get a run and stay away from that relegation spot."

Playing teams directly around his Oldham team in Macclesfield, Stevenage and Carlisle in quick succession is something Maamria understands is a perfect opportunity to push up the table further after a difficult festive period.

"Everybody down at the bottom they will be fighting for their lives. We've got Carlisle coming up as well, those tough games in this month they're quite vital for us.

"What we've got to do is go there and improve on the weekend. The game at Stevenage will be similar to Newport away although the pitch will play better.

"It's an occasion that we're all looking forward to it and we know what kind of team we're going to take there."

He added: "It's been a headache with the amount of games, it has stretched us. McCann is still out, Branger has had a week of training under his belt. Jonny Smith is back to his best and you can see the difference he makes to us going forward.

"We still have enough players in the squad to go out there and put in a really good performance."

Despite the two games in the space of a week the transfer window is still open and still provides the Head Coach with an opportunity to strengthen, even with the tight timescales he still intends to do so.

"From Saturday to Tuesday we've only had four hours in the morning to sign a player that we're still waiting on, so it was always going to be very, very difficult.

"So my focus has been with the quick turnover of games is to concentrate on the Stevenage fixture straight away.

"My phone is always on for any potential movements and I'm always in contact with the Chairman and with agents to try and bring the type of players that are right for Oldham Athletic.

"But I'm not just going to start signing players for the sake of it. The club has learned from that in the summer, we've tried to get a fair few out and it is still a work in progress.

"I've got to emphasise my job has been since I came in is that it needs change and we're making those changes as we move on.

"Yes, we've been in a difficult period in the last three or four games but when we get the squad together and those players back fit, we will have that strong 18 in the matchday squad and we'll be capable of beating anybody."


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