Manager Tony Pennock was pleased with the way his Haverfordwest County players kept battling away against The New Saints yesterday, but was ultimately frustrated by conceding three goals in a short space of time to hand the Bluebirds defeat.
The majority of the first half was evenly-contested, with the Bluebirds arguably looking the likelier to score, but a brace from Ryan Brobbel followed by Declan McManus’ goal a minute after the restart guided the Saints to victory.
Rhys Abbruzzese pulled a goal back for County in stoppage time to restore some respectability to the scoreline, but it was a mere consolation as the Bluebirds slipped to 10th in the standings.
Here’s what the manager had to say following the full-time whistle:
Defeat for us this afternoon, but, all things considered, were there still positives for us to take away?
“Yeah, plenty of positives. We’re disappointed with obviously losing the game, but, you know, TNS are a very, very good side. They’re the best team in the league, and they’ll win the title again this season. But it doesn’t matter whether it’s TNS or any other team in the league, you work so hard for 35 minutes or whatever it was, and then in the space of three or four minutes we gave them two goals.
“The first goal is certainly disappointing. People are saying it’s a foul, but I’m not sure, and the second we’ve just got to get to half-time one down and then regroup and see what we can do as a team to maybe change things. But it’s tough. We know that, but we’re still in it and then obviously the third goal kills it. Take a 10-minute spell, the 35th minute to the 45th minute, and we concede three goals, and we’ve got a big hand in conceding them which is disappointing.”
Like you said, the first half-hour or so was really positive, so it was a shame to concede the opening goal the way we did because it’s given TNS confidence then hasn’t it?
“It did. I don’t think TNS need much help really to win a game of football, and I certainly think we did that today which is disappointing because, like I said, the boys have been really, really good. We created a few chances in the first half, but unfortunately we didn’t take them and didn’t work the keeper with the opportunities either. Then we concede the two goals.
“But probably the biggest positive for me was the reaction after the third goal went in. Again, we went on and pressed, I know we had nothing to lose and the game was over by then, but still, the way the boys dug in was good to see. That was pleasing because where we are in the league, that’s something we’re going to need in abundance.”
It must have been pleasing to get the goal right at the end, and it was one we probably deserved?
“Yeah, like I said, in the first half we created a few chances, and then in the second half the keeper has made a good save from Jack [Wilson], a few others have flashed across the face of goal. But then to get a goal was pleasing for the boys because, you know, we are good going forward and just our end product is costing us really. But it’s gone now. We’ve got 10 games left and we need to gather as many points as we possibly can.”
And Rhys’s goal at the end was obviously nice for this game, but it could also be important moving forward as it has hopefully given us some momentum heading into two big away games at Flint and Airbus now?
“Definitely. Flint is going to be tough, as will Airbus. They’re two teams fighting hard to get points, the same as us. I watched Flint at Aberystwyth on Friday night, and they played similar there as they did against us a few weeks back. They had a few players missing who will probably be back for next Saturday, which will make them stronger.
“The boys are understandably feeling a bit low at the minute, but we’re trying to encourage them and give them as much positivity as we can. Today is gone now, and all that matters is Flint away next Saturday. All the players should be thinking about now is training on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and travelling to Flint on Friday and putting in a performance for 90 minutes, not the fits and starts that we’ve been doing, and at the same time we have to take our chances when they come, we have to defend our box and not give teams easy goals.”
Is it fair to say that these next two games can really be viewed as an opportunity for us, because if they go the right way it could really change the course of our season?
“It certainly could. The table is tight from sixth down really. I think it’s still up for grabs for anybody. There’s quite a few teams who will think that they can get the sixth place. All of my focus at the moment is on getting us out of this run that we are on, and having a more polished performance. That’s what my focus will be on this week in preparation for Flint, and that’s what the boys’ focus should be on as well.”