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Westley: Heading In Right Direction

29 August 2012

Manager Graham Westley talks to the local press after the Palace clash...

North End have made a gradual start to the campaign so far and while Westley is aware that his players will take time to gel, he is confident that this will happen sooner rather than later.

“As players come in and out people forget jobs here and forget jobs there and the fluency even of your set plays is difficult, but we are stuttering to life. We were nice and organised there and it was good to see a set play come off.”

“It was nice to see a set piece work properly for a change as we go forward,” the manager said. “My sides have always been strong at sets and the organisation of the jobs that they are doing has always been sound, but we’re a new squad – everyone’s learning the detail of jobs.

Akpo Sodje’s 18th minute header was the end product of a corner kick, with Westley satisfied that his side had used a set-piece to its full advantage.

“We deliberately reversed the wingers, Jeffery [Monakana] was taking some down the left and Will [Hayhurst] was taking some down the right, and we managed to get ourselves on the front foot. Akpo [Sodje] scored a great header from Jeffrey’s cross and Nicky Wroe was very brave under a lot of pressure to crash it home; there was only one winner in that challenge, and he was very decisive.”

“We knew that they have been struggling, they have lost their last three league games and we thought it was important to take it to them from the off,” he continued talking to the local press. 

Visitors Palace currently sit bottom of the Championship, and Westley revealed that their opponents’ poor form gave his side that extra motivation to attack.

“We took knocks as we went along as well and people like Robbo [Chris Robertson] had to come on at half time and play out of position,” the Lilywhites boss added. “It was not easy for them but they dug in and they did what they needed to do, and I thought they put in a good professional performance tonight.”

“When you keep yourself right when you are not in the side it is a credit to your professionalism, and I think they showed great professionalism tonight, the lads who came in, and the boys who were in there adjusted well to the changes.

“I am pleased for them because it was not an easy night for us,” said Westley. “There were a lot of changes to the starting eleven; lads had to come in who have not been playing and it was a credit to them that physically, mentally and tactically they kept themselves right, paid attention to the jobs they were expected to do and prepared themselves in the right way.

The likes of Steve Simonsen, Andy Procter and Will Hayhurst made their first starts of the season, and the manager was impressed at how easily they slotted into the side.

Graham Westley was happy with his side’s performance against Crystal Palace, particularly after having to make a number of alterations to the team which drew against Bournemouth at the weekend.

“Bit by bit, you are going to come together. With the amount of changes that have been forced upon us, partnerships are not getting enough time to develop to the level that you want them to, but the lads are working tremendously hard.

“We saw them put in some good performances in pre-season and we have put in some good performances since the start of the season – competitive action always throws out different challenges for you. 

“I would have loved the results to have been better but I have been pleased with the performances on the whole and we’re going in a positive direction.”

Westley was also full of praise for Jeffery Monakana, who was influential during the build-up of several of North End goals and found the net himself with a spectacular curling effort from 25 yards out.

“He is a talent. He’s got a great sense of purpose to him, he has got some wonderful technical ability and tremendous pace,” said Westley. “He has learning the tactical side of the game and he has got to be able to make a contribution to the defensive side of the game as well as the offensive side.

“I left him out at the weekend because he was looking very tired in training, physically his test results were down and we needed to look after him.

“But he came back today and he was a real handful, he scored a tremendous goal and was instrumental in making the fourth. He makes a positive contribution and he is exciting to have on the pitch.”

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