A long-awaited league debut for Terell Thomas finally came about on Saturday and his efforts didn’t go unnoticed by Neal Ardley, as the defender still emerged with some credit despite a defeat.
Terell was forced to step up from the substitute’s bench just twenty minutes before the kick-off. He responded to Neal’s call-up, shortly before the start of the match against Shrewsbury, following an injury-scare in the warm-up for Rod McDonald.
“I thought Terell was a little bit nervous for the first ten minutes, but after that he settled into the game great,” said Neal. “It’s hard when you’re in the team all of a sudden. We lost Will during the week. It’s tough. He has come in and done well and unfortunately he wasn’t on the winning team.”
Speaking after the game, Terell explained: “Rod was struggling with his quad. Instead of risking it and playing, I think he just took the decision to sit this one out and give it a bit more rest. I was told twenty minutes before the game that I was in.”
Terell had endured a frustrating start to his time with the club himself, having picked up a knee injury in the Checkatrade Trophy victory at Charlton. However, he pressed his claim for a centre-back slot with a strong display at the weekend, having returned to full fitness.
“I felt alright,” said Terell after the 2-1 defeat. “When you’re training, you’ve got to do your own thing, so that when the opportunity does come you feel you’re not behind. Personally, I didn’t feel off the pace, I felt good.
“We’re still fighting. We’re not lying down, no chance. The whole morale around the team is to try again.
“A few of the senior players said: ‘Listen lads, we’re in this together’. We’re the only ones who can pull out of it and it’s still a long season to go, but we’ve still got to keep pushing. It’s not over, we’re not just going to lie down and be ‘taken to the cleaners’.
“We’re pushing as hard as we can. It’s annoying that we’re going through a bad drought, but we’ve just to do everything we can to get out of this bad phase.
“We’ve done a lot of work together and with our psychologist Steve (Sylvester) on getting the team-morale together and letting everyone know that. We felt that when we scored on Saturday that it was a good time to show our appreciation and let the manager know that we’re trying our hardest for him and for the club.
“Losing hurt a lot. When you’re defending you hope to see out the game, but we conceded on two set-pieces and that’s not good enough on the whole as a team – not just the defenders.”