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Matty Blair salutes Jason Walker’s ‘dirty’ work for York City
MATTY Blair believes team-mate Jason Walker ’s spectacular stoppage-time equaliser against Chesterfield was a fitting reward for all the “horrible” work he has been doing for the side.
Former Luton and Barrow forward Walker enjoyed hero status against the Spireites at the weekend when he rescued a point in the 2-2 draw at Bootham Crescent.
But Blair has been quick to point out how equally important the 28-year-old’s performances as a hard-working foil for his fellow front- men have been this term.
Blair said: “Jason’s been unfairly criticised by a minority of people because he’s not been scoring as such, but he’s been up there doing the horrible and dirty side of the game which we, as a team, really appreciate.
“He’s made goals for me, Ash and Couls already this season so it was great for him to score on Saturday. It will do his confidence the world of good.
“We all remember how he got all those goals this time last year and it was frightening the form he was in. If he had kept that up all season, he would be in the Championship or Premier League now.
“But he will get that back because cream always rises to the top and he’s a great player who will prove that.”
Walker’s goal also saw City once more call upon a familiar habit of salvaging results in the dying stages of games – a trend that is beginning to draw comparisons with 12-time Premier League champions Manchester United.
“The gaffer’s told us that Manchester United are the best at what they do because they keep going until the end,” Blair added. “They were 2-1 down against Southampton the other day and went on to win 3-2.
“We weren’t Manchester United on Saturday and there were quite a few mistakes made by everybody in the team but, because of the spirit we have got, we battled on and got a draw with that great goal from Jason.”
Blair was making his first League start of the season against the Spireites in a midfield role with Paddy McLaughlin away on Northern Ireland under-21 international duty.
After missing the end of pre-season through injury, Blair has been forced to bide his time with Ashley Chambers and Michael Coulson impressing alongside Walker in City’s three-man front line.
But the former Kidderminster winger confessed he could have no complaints with the manager’s team selections and his position on the bench for the first five fixtures, saying: “I’ve just been nipping away waiting for my chance.
“Getting injured for the last three games of pre- season was a big thing and a bit of a blow for me because Couls and Ash have been playing really well and scoring so you can’t knock them. I’m not going to be the selfish person who keeps saying I want to be playing.
“If the team was losing, then I probably would but, if the team keeps winning and I don’t kick a ball all season, then that’s great because I’m a squad player just like any other lad.”
On his surprise selection at the weekend as McLaughlin’s deputy in midfield, before a half-time switch to 4-4-2 saw him shift into a more familiar right-wing role, Blair added: “I just tried to keep my position while thinking about where to go and what to do.
“With Paddy being away, I was up for doing it and quite excited. I was a little bit surprised when the gaffer told me but not really bothered and I looked at it as another challenge.
“The gaffer is very good with things like that. He puts an arm round you and tells you he thinks you can play in a different position and how you have all the attributes to do it.
“If the manager believes in you, that’s the most important thing and, if he thinks you can do it, then why can’t you?
“It’s the same game just a different role.
“I played in a similar central position for Bedworth for a bit but there’s a massive difference between that and League Two.
“I was a little bit nervous and naive but I gave it a go and didn’t do too badly.”