Smithies previews Saturday’s game at Millwall
Town’s goalkeeper Alex Smithies is hoping for a big response from the team at Millwall on Saturday after a first defeat in three at Peterborough in midweek.
The Terriers went into Tuesday night’s game at London Road with the fifth best defensive record in the division, but Smithies and co could do little about George Boyd’s second goal – a stunning volley from around 40 yards out.
“It’s not a goal you will see very often; it was a fantastic strike,” Alex admitted. “Their manager said after the game that if Lionel Messi had done it we would be seeing it on every channel and it would go down as one of the best goals ever and you can’t really legislate for that.
“I’d got my position set for the through ball and I don’t think I was particularly high when I look back at it, but it was a fantastic finish and you just have to hold your hands – it was a fantastic goal.”
The defeat was a rare setback in what has been a brilliant start to the Club’s first season back at Championship level and the 22 year-old realises that you have to take the rough with the smooth.
“You have to take into account that we’ve made the step up this season after a few years in League 1 and as a team we will have a few setbacks this season. Obviously Peterborough were bottom of the league at the time and it’s disappointing to lose, especially when we know what we are capable of that. We know we’re better than that, so we’ve got to move onto Saturday now.
“As a group of players and staff we try to not get carried away. Perhaps to the press it looks simple for third in the league to beat bottom, but every game is so difficult in this division and there is no room for complacency. We have to give it everything in every single game, but we were off the boil on Tuesday and we’re looking to put it right on Saturday against Millwall.”
Former England youth international Smithies is glad to get the chance to bounce back so quickly on Saturday with the trip to Millwall:
“After a defeat you want to get straight back on the training pitch and playing matches to put it right. Luckily we can do that on Saturday and I think it’s a game we can win. It’s a difficult ground to go to, but we are capable of beating teams in this league and we have to approach every game as if we can win it. We’ve shown we can against the likes of Wolves, who are expected to be at the top of the league.”
The Den is usually one of the more intimidating grounds to visit in terms of a partisan atmosphere, but Alex is unconcerned with that reputation and is focussing on the job in hand.
“Just like a lot of away grounds you come under pressure from their fans; you get pelters from the stands, just like any other away game. Perhaps Millwall is a little bit more intense than other grounds, but we just have to focus on playing the game; if we play how we know we can, I don’t think that will affect us too much.
“To be honest, that kind of stuff doesn’t bother me in the slightest – I’m used to it now! I don’t take anything personally and I think that in order to do my job you have to block out those noises.”
Instead, Smithies preferred to focus on Town’s brilliant travelling support:
“When we were losing 3-1 at Peterborough you could hear our fans, which was absolutely fantastic, and at Birmingham they travelled in their numbers and made so much noise – they out-sang the home teams. If they can do that again on Saturday that should help us out, but we really can’t ask for any more from them. In a few games where we’ve been struggling I think they have pulled us through at times – home and away.”
Smithies has history against the Lions; he was part of the Town side that played in the last visit to their ground for an ultimately unsuccessful Play-Off semi-final second leg back in 2010.
“I was part of the team that got beaten there in the Play-Off semi-final a few years ago, so I want to go there and put that right by beating them,” Alex continued. “I think I’ve matured as a person by learning to deal with the pressure from fans; there is no way to practise that as a 17 year-old, but you learn how to deal with it. The experience of playing games is priceless.
“As a team we looked quite young and inexperienced on that night, but now we have players who have played at these grounds before in big games – I’d class myself as one – and I think we are capable of dealing with it. Hopefully we can show the fans that we’ve moved on as a Club since then.
“Every game is difficult though and you have to give it everything in every game, regardless of where the opponent is in the League. Saturday will be no different, but we’ve trained well – we look sharp – and we’ll be ready for Saturday.”
Smithies finished off with a somewhat unsurprising statement – that he is loving life in the npower Championship!
“It’s great for me having spent the last few years in League 1 and League 2 before that. Every ground we go to is fantastic; the crowds are bigger and there is more press, which is what we all wanted. Now we just have to compete in this league.”
Town fans can pay on the day at Millwall – click HERE for full info!