Reuben: It is the same feeling every time, relief. I just feel relieved to have got my goal.'
Having scored his first goal in Exeter City colours in the 4-1 win over Barnet, Reuben has found the target with regularity during November.
He fired home against Luton Town earlier this month in the FA Cup and then at home Doncaster Rovers in League Two, before netting in the opening minute against Carlisle United on Saturday, November 19.
That goal, after 40 seconds, was his fourth for the Grecians and 99th in his career. Simon Larkins caught up with the Bristol-born forward to ask him about what reaching 100 career goals will mean to him and how he is finding life at St James Park having joined Exeter on September 14.
SIMON: Hello Reuben. The goal against Carlisle United took you to 99 career goals. Is that something you were aware of and how pleasing will it be to get to the 100-mark?
REUBEN: If I do get there then I can look back at it as quite a good achievement. Making 100 games is probably what you set out to do as a young lad. I remember one of my first managers, Ian Holloway, saying you are not a player until you have got to 100 games and I’m looking at 100 goals so it probably something I can look back on if I get there and it is also something I know nobody can take it away from me at that point.
SIMON: Your first goal came in a 2-1 win for Kidderminster Harriers against Grays Athletic. Can you remember much about that goal?
REUBEN: Yes, I can remember that goal vividly. The ball came to me and I did a nice little flick on the edge of the box and just put it in. At the time I wasn’t really looking at it being my first goal – it was just a game of football to me. Crickey, that was a long time ago, though.
SIMON: Do you still get the same feeling when you score a goal now to what you did when you scored that goal?
REUBEN: Yes, it is the same feeling every time, relief. It is always relief. It is never really a celebration type thing for me, I just feel relieved that I have got my goal. It is always a nice feeling, but it is more relief for your team and putting your team in a good position.
SIMON: You didn’t find the back of the net in your first five games for City, so how much did the sense of relief at getting that goal for City against Barnet help you in the games that followed?
REUBEN: In terms of scoring goals, it doesn’t really help. I am more interested in how I play. I focus on my touch and how much I contribute to the game more than I do goals. If I get a goal, then it is a bonus and it is my job to put the ball in the back of the net, but the most important thing is the way I am performing. I know if I am performing well then the goals will come. So, I never really look at it from the perspective that I haven’t scored for a while because I have proved that I can get goals.
SIMON: Having scored 99 goals in your career people on the outside might think that you have that selfish nature to your game. But, how accurate do you think is when you consider your hold-up play for City and the amount of goals you help set up?
REUBEN: It is strange because after the last few weeks when I go home people will say ‘oh, your scoring now then,’ as if to say ‘you are playing well now’, but it doesn’t work like that. Obviously putting the ball in the back of the net is what you set out to do, but for me it is more about my whole game and assists. A lot of the goals we score I am involved. I kind of get a pre-assist for the assist if that makes sense and I think that is just as important. However, that only gets appreciated from people you are playing with or people who are watching you and really understand the game. That is probably why I have been able to have the success I have had in my career.
SIMON: Yes, those things don’t really get recorded down in a stats book. It is just the goals and the assists.
REUBEN: Yes, that is why I am not one for stats really because you are just marking down a single action that has happened. You need to be able to watch the whole game and understand what happens throughout the whole match. For example, an unselfish run can create space. There are players out there that do that but, unless you are in the game and understand football, you don’t appreciate it. You may be playing with a striker who never touches the ball, but he is constantly on the move and allows you to tap the ball into the net. Well, without that guy next to you, you would never be able to score. So he has effected the game simply by having a 15-yard sprint.
SIMON: The goal at Carlisle United, when you latched onto a long ball over the top, how typical was that when you look back at the other 98 you have scored?
REUBEN: Looking back I didn’t actually realise how good a goal it was. When you break it down it was a good 60-yard pass, into a good area, from (Pierce) Sweeney and I have managed to physically dominate my man and touch the ball into my path. I think the keeper hesitated a little bit and that allowed me to poke it into the net. The manager gave me a lot of confidence before the game. He showed me a few of my goals that I have scored and he just wanted me to bring elements of those goals to my game. It was a sprinting-confidence type of goal, because I lost my sprinting confidence a bit, with regards to what happened last season. So hopefully after getting a goal like that we will see a bit more of those type of goals, because it is typical of me with it being a big power run and being able to do a bit with the ball. Power and pace is a massive part of my game and it is not nice when you try to do something and physically you are not able to. Whether that is through confidence or because your body won’t simply allow it. I am there now, but it is about breaking those shackles and hopefully that goal was the one that I needed to prove to myself that I can do it. I can do those longer sprints and then hold off my man. However, I have got to do that repeatedly. So, instead of just playing a safe game, where I am linking up with players, I can also be a bit more dynamic for myself and effect the game on both sides of that coin.
SIMON: Unfortunately, the three goals you have scored recently have come in defeats for the Grecians. Would swap all of those goals for the three points?
REUBEN: Yes, that goes without saying. When you lose some people around you say ‘well, you scored’ and I’m like ‘really?’ Honestly, two of the games I have scored in, against Doncaster Rovers and Carlisle, have been the worst since I have been here. I was close to tears at Carlisle, I don’t mind saying that. I couldn’t believe it because it was so unjust but it is something we have got to work on. The goals that I have scored stand for nothing if we don’t get at least a point. However, those goals have put the team into some good positions so hopefully we can manage the games a bit better and get the points.
SIMON: You were substituted after 73 minutes at Carlisle United. How difficult was it to watch what happened in the closing stages from the bench?
REUBEN: It is my worst nightmare. It is really frustrating, because you can see things unfolding. It must be really hard for the manager as well to watch because you won’t to go out there and tell everybody this what is happening, but you can’t. You would like it to come from the players out there and that is something we have to improve on. We are playing well, but we are not winning games. Sometimes you can play well, but it is hard to win games of football. If this makes any sense we are beating the teams, but we are not winning and that is hard to take. If you listen to a lot of the managers that we have played they are all saying they can’t believe how we play, the position we are in and how they have managed to get anything from us, because of the way the match has gone. However, we have got to make sure, in the next two-thirds of the season that we are turning these good performances into results. It is no good playing well and not winning.
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