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Rai’s third chance to make first impression

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It is often said you only have one chance to make a first impression.

If that is the case, then Rai Simons could have hardly done a better job in his first appearance under Danny Wilson, the new Chesterfield manager, after scoring twice in his side's 7-1 thrashing of ten-man Shrewsbury Town at the weekend.

Simons replaced Jay O'Shea in the 72nd minute, scoring 45 seconds after coming on, firing home from outside the penalty area.

He bagged his second three minutes from time with a composed finish to earn Wilson — a former Barclays Premier League manager with Sheffield Wednesday — his first win in charge.

Simons, who was signed by former Chesterfield manager Paul Cook from non-League Ilkeston last April, admitted he could not have hoped for a better start to the new year.

“It was my first time playing under the new manager and it couldn't have gone any better,” Simons told The Royal Gazette.

“He just told me to go on and get a goal. I managed to get two so I'm pleased about that.

“Hopefully it made a lasting impression on [Wilson]. Hopefully I can get a start or two and become a regular.”

Under previous manager Dean Saunders, Simons was primarily used as a winger in a 4-5-1 formation, but with Wilson opting for two up front, the 19-year-old was given a chance to impress as a conventional striker at home to Shrewsbury.

Although Simons insists he is more than happy to fulfil whichever role is asked of him by Wilson, the Bermuda player is known to enjoy the freedom of playing through the middle.

“We played a basic 4-4-2 [against Shrewsbury] and I played up front with Lee Novak,” said Simons, who has scored five goals this season.

“Under Dean Saunders the formation was different; he played one striker, so I often played as a winger. I'm happy to play anywhere, though. I just want to play and score and create goals.”

Simons admits confidence had hit rock bottom at the time of Saunders's sacking after four successive defeats.

But with an experienced manager such as Wilson now at the helm, Simons believes it will not be long before the League One strugglers are moving in the right direction.

“We have good players and the league table doesn't show how good we are,” he said. “Everyone was just low on confidence.

“Hopefully everyone gets some confidence back and we start getting the results we deserve.

“The new manager has given everyone a boost and we now have a new training schedule with different styles of training. Everyone is enjoying it and hopefully we can keep on going.”

Wilson has praised the attitudes of his players after they stormed to their first win since late October.

“I was very proud of the performance, even taking away the goals,” said Wilson, who was appointed as manager on Christmas Eve. The scoreline suggests that we were on top but we had to work very hard to get our noses in front in the early part of the game.

“We said to the lads before the game that they're a tough nut to crack, Shrewsbury have got some very good results in recent weeks, so we knew we'd have to be at our best.”

Wilson has no doubt that Chesterfield possess the fire power to cause teams problems and singled out Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Novak for their contributions.

“What we saw today was some very clinical finishing and overall I thought we played some great football and the seven finishes were part and parcel of that,” he said.

“I thought Sylvan Ebanks-Blake was outstanding again today and Lee Novak too, but what we've said to the rest of the team is that we need to supply them.

“We've got to make sure that we get the ball in areas where the strikers can score goals and they showed what they can do when we're able to do that.”

Chesterfield, who are eighteenth in the table, two points clear of the relegation zone, are away to Rochdale on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Nahki Wells's Huddersfield Town are in action in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday in an all-Championship affair at home to Reading.

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Published January 05, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated January 04, 2016 at 9:16 pm)

Rai’s third chance to make first impression

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