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Holden: ‘That was for the fans’

Dean Holden dedicated the 1-0 win over Cardiff City to the fans who could not make the annual derby pilgrimage over the River Severn.

The head coach’s pre-match talk included video footage of the City players applauding the visiting Cider Army after the same-margin victory in last season’s pre-Covid times, when Josh Brownhill’s wonder-strike sent Robins fans home ecstatic.

This time it was a goal from Chris Martin – his first for City in the league – which saw the men in red record back-to-back wins heading into the international break – but sadly in an empty Cardiff City Stadium.

For the fans

And, as Lockdown 2 starts, Holden told Robins TV: “This second lockdown is going to be really tough for people and we’ve put a smile on our supporters’ faces, whether it’s for a couple of hours tonight or over the weekend I hope they can really enjoy it because it’s a challenging time for everybody. Our job is to win football matches which can hopefully help them get through their tough circumstances at the moment.”

 

'Stay Strong Tarty' T-shirts

After warming-up in ‘Stay Strong Tarty’ T-shirts as a message of support for Phil Tart, fondly known as Tarty, the club’s popular equipment manager of 20 years who is currently unwell, City came out firing.

The players wore Stay Strong Tarty’ T-shirts as a message of support for unwell equipment manager Phil Tart

What a goal

Holden enthused: “It was an incredible goal – I can see it now…Vyner’s pass to Callum in the pocket who drives and is confident, takes the space, we work it wide, Nahki Wells has the composure to pick a pass on the edge of the box and we play our way in. It’s something we practice a lot in training. Chris Martin deserves that goal because he is one hell of a selfless team player. We know the assists he has got already but as strikers there’ll all be thinking ‘I need my first goal’ but he stayed calm and I’m delighted it’s come for Chris and it’s got us the three points.”

 

Callum O'Dowda drives forward to set up Chris Martin's goal

Two wins on the road

“I’m thrilled to be honest with you. It was a real test for the players and all of us this week. We’d had a wiles run but we’d stuck to our way of working, we stayed consistent and confident and you can see the last two performances on the road…seven games in 20 days…was a brilliant end to a run of games.”

Ádám Nagy was impressive in midfield

Resources

With eight players missing through injury or illness, including Famara Diédhiou who tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, Holden was pleased to finish the week with maximum points following the midweek success in Huddersfield.

“Resources are stretched,” said Holden, who had Ryley Towler and Opi Ewards on the bench. ”But that’s the job of the football manager. You’ve got to make decisions, you have to keep people together. For example, Ádám Nagy has come in tonight and been exceptional; the players coming off the bench have all contributed; I’m stood in the technical area and I can hear all the subs behind me egging people on; and that’s what it’s all about.”

Derby next up

City now have a two-week international interval before they meet Derby County – exclusively live to watch on Robins TV on Saturday, November 21st – and Holden said: “Now we go into a break which we didn’t do after the last break so that’s now the test for the players.”

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