Delighted Phil Parkinson believes City have earned a stress-free finish to the season after rubberstamping their League One status.
Last night’s 1-0 win over Peterborough guaranteed they will be spared any sleepless nights over the remaining three games.
Adam Reach scored a superb free-kick in his final home appearance and Parkinson beamed: “I think with the effort the lads have put in, not just this year but also last, we deserved it not to go to a nail-biting last few games. The way we’ve played recently deserved that bit of a cushion.
“It’s been a tough season at times but the way we’ve played recently, especially away from home, has been great. It was important we played in the manner we’ve done on our travels for our own supporters.
“I feel certainly in the first half they got a tremendous performance. It was hard in the second because Peterborough are such a good side and have got so many attacking players.
“Even when they were down to ten men, we felt a bit threatened. We could have kept the ball better but games at this stage of the season can be a bit frenetic.
They were desperate to win and we were desperate to hold on for the three points and keep us safe in League One, which is so important for the club.”
Reach played behind the front two as City matched Peterborough’s midfield diamond. It got the winger far more involved after a quiet spell recently.
Parkinson said: “We just felt Reachy needed that new lease of life and he certainly got it in that role. It probably caught them by surprise and won us the game.
“He’s been great. What he gives us, which we’ve lacked at times, is great athleticism as well as ability.
“He’s an incredible athlete who keeps getting up and down the pitch. He helps the team defensively and I’m really pleased with his performance.
“He’s gone off with the man-of-the-match champagne in his final home game.”
James Hanson started for the first time in a month after his persistent groin problem and came through the whole game unscathed.
Parkinson admitted it was a late call on the striker.
“We were never sure until really late on Thursday when he had got through training with no reaction.
“He’s such a good athlete, people don’t realise the ground he covers on a football pitch. We knew that physically he’d be able to cope.”
City’s victory also wiped out memories of the awful displays in the previous two games at Valley Parade. Parkinson felt they owed the home fans a proper display.
He said: “I spoke to a lot of the players this week and some said that the fans were getting edgy and a bit disgruntled.
“Unfortunately I don’t blame them after the last couple of performances.
“I could have come out in the press and said ‘get behind the lads’ but the only way we can get the 100 per cent support like we got last night is by putting in a performance.
“It was down to us. We’ve had a great relationship with our supporters since I’ve been here and it’s because of spirited performances.
“That’s what our fans demand. They want effort and goal mouth action and haven’t really had that in the last couple of home games.
“It hasn’t really reflected what we try to create here. Last night was more back to that.”