PENALTY KING

Gilling­ham cap­tain Josh Wright re­flects on his spot-kick tre­ble

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By Luke Baker

JOSH Wright is still rel­a­tively new to the busi­ness of penalty-tak­ing, but to call him a nat­u­ral would be an un­der­state­ment.

Af­ter he plun­dered the most re­mark­able of spot­kick hat-tricks a week ago, it’s not sur­pris­ing that the Gilling­ham mid­fielder be­lieves he is built to suc­ceed from 12 yards.

The Gills were 2-0 down to Scun­thorpe last week­end when they were awarded a 77th-minute penalty – and Wright con­verted to bring his side back into the match.

Five min­utes later, a sec­ond penalty was given – with the same result – be­fore the 26-year-old com­pleted his tre­ble from the spot four min­utes from time for an in­cred­i­ble 3-2 vic­tory.

Wright be­came a reg­u­lar penalty-taker only last month when he net­ted from 12 yards in a 2-1 win over Southend but ad­mits he gets a thrill from be­ing the man in the spot­light.

Pres­sure

“I am a player who gets a buzz out of a bit of pres­sure,” said Wright. “You can be a bit too re­laxed when there’s not much at stake, so I treat ev­ery day the same.

“I want to win in ev­ery­thing I do – whether that’s train­ing, a com­puter game or tak­ing a penalty. I’ve grown up like that.

“I hadn’t taken many penal­ties be­fore this sea­son, but I’ve taken four in re­cent weeks and I quite like that pres­sure.

“I like hav­ing that re­spon­si­bil­ity on my shoul­ders and hav­ing to rise to it. It gives me that bit of edge.

“I loved it against Scun­thorpe. It was nerver­ack­ing, but it’s a day I will al­ways remember and it gave me such a buzz.”

Wright took spot-kick re­spon­si­bil­ity af­ter Bradley Dack missed one ear­lier in the cam­paign and Jay Em­manuel-Thomas’ loan spell from QPR came to an end last month.

The psy­cho­log­i­cal game be­tween penalty-taker and goal­keeper is in­tense enough at one spot-kick, but when there are three in nine min­utes it gets ramped up a notch.

Wright ac­knowl­edges that all sorts of dif­fer­ent thoughts were fly­ing through his head as he re­peat­edly faced Luke Daniels.

“The first penalty came and I’m just think­ing ‘it will get us back in the game if I stick this away and it will make them nervy’,” he explained.

“With the sec­ond, I de­bated maybe giv­ing it to some­one else. It quite often hap­pens that when some­one scores a penalty, they won’t take the next one. It hap­pened with Lionel Messi against PSG. He gave the sec­ond one to Ney­mar. “I de­bated it but be­ing the type of per­son I am – I’m very com­pet­i­tive, I love to win and I’m con­fi­dent in tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity – I de­cided I had to take it. “I picked my cor­ner, I didn’t change my mind and I dis­patched it.” Wright was then fouled by Kevin van Veen for the de­ci­sive penalty, but by that point, he sim­ply had his eyes set on a first ca­reer hat-trick.

“I have quite a big bruise on top of my foot from the foul but I picked my­self up,” he added.

“When I won the penalty, a lot of the boys came run­ning at me and cel­e­brat­ing like I had already scored but I had to keep my cool.

“Af­ter de­bat­ing giv­ing the sec­ond one away, there was no way I wasn’t go­ing to take the third. Of course I was a bit ner­vous, but I was think­ing ‘there’s a hat-trick at stake here’.

“I put the ball down. There was a bit of a melee go­ing on and a de­lay, but I set my­self, stayed calm and made my mind up where I was go­ing to go.

“I put it in the same cor­ner as the sec­ond and I was just de­lighted to see it hit the back of the net.”

PIC­TURE: Martin Cole/ProS­ports

THREE OF A KIND: Josh Wright had plenty to shout about af­ter net­ting his trio of pens for the Gills, right 3 2

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