Manager Tony Pennock said he could sense a real edge about his players in the build-up to yesterday’s game against Flint Town United, and was pleased that they were able to translate it into a performance which earned them their first away win of the season.
Jordan Davies’ penalty 17 minutes from time was enough to see Haverfordwest County clinch a vital three points against the Silkmen, who were reduced to 10 men in the 63rd minute when Jack Hindle was red carded for a stamp on Dylan Rees in midfield.
The victory brought an end to the Bluebirds’ four-game losing run in the JD Cymru Premier, and saw them close the gap on the four teams above them, all of whom tasted defeat on Matchday 14.
Here’s what the manager had to say after the final whistle:
A big win for us this afternoon, the overriding feeling must be one of relief after that game?
“It is. I’m just pleased for the boys. They’ve been working extremely hard. Obviously confidence has been low, losing the games we have since the win over Cardiff Metropolitan at home, some games deservedly so and some games we should have got something out of, but we didn’t. So to come here today, at a tough place, it was nice to get our first away win of the season.”
The performance was always going to be secondary to the result today, but you must also have been pleased with the way we competed physically with Flint?
“The lads at times have done that this season against teams who are maybe a bit more direct. But Flint are a very good team. They’ve got lots of experience and good players on the pitch. I saw them last week against Aberystwyth losing 2-1, but it was a game I’m sure they’ll have thought they should have got something out of, and watching it myself I thought that as well. But sometimes you’ve just got to grind results out and, with the run we’ve been on, we just needed to get some sort of positive performance and points on the board, and the boys have done that today so I’m really pleased for them.”
There’s wasn’t a lot in the game, but fortunately the big moments went our way, something which probably hasn’t happened much lately?
“As you say, we haven’t had much go our way this year, but you make your own luck. I can’t really blame other decisions that have gone against us this year. They have, and you just have to deal with them. Obviously the sending off is tough for them, but we capitalised on that and I thought we upped the intensity of the game after that and, from what I’ve seen, it looks a definite penalty. So fair play to Jordan, under a lot of pressure, he’s put it away. But again, I still think there’s areas that, as good as we were at times, we know that we’ve got to be better at, and that’s something we’ll be working on every week going forward.”
The defence was really impressive today, with Elliot Scotcher coming into the back three for the first time this season, and that’s exactly what you need away from home in this league isn’t it?
“That’s right. Obviously Corey Shephard coming back into the squad as well, getting a few minutes at the end. I thought Dylan Rees was exceptional, as he has been all season, he’s a proper leader on and off the pitch. We need 11 leaders on the pitch, people who fight for each other, and we showed that today. I’m not saying we haven’t showed it this season, there’s been a couple of performances where we’ve been miles off it and got the criticism we deserved, but in the main the boys give it all, and they’ve certainly done that today. We’re just extremely pleased to come away with three points and the clean sheet.”
We spoke last week about how this period could be a great opportunity for us, and I guess we’re hoping that this will be the start of what could be a positive run for us.
“We needed to get out of the run we were on. We had a meeting this week, and another one this morning before we left the hotel about, you know, we can all say the right things before the game, in the warm-up and in training, but you have to deliver on the pitch when that whistle goes on a Saturday afternoon. I could see a determination in the boys this week, in training, this morning in the hotel and in the meeting in the dressing room before the game, and I just felt like we were going to get something out of today’s game. How? I’m not sure. We worked on things in training, but I just felt that the boys had something about them today that I knew that we were going to come away with something, and to come away with three points and a clean sheet, we can’t ask for more than that.”
And with the way results have gone this weekend, it’s tightened everything up once again, and it probably just reminds us that things aren’t perhaps as bad as some thought they were?
“Yes, it’s still very tight down there. I saw before kick-off that Newtown had won, so we dropped into the bottom two for a short while. You can say that some teams are too good to be in certain positions, but the table doesn’t lie. We were second bottom when we kicked off this afternoon, and I think the lads knew that it was time for us to step up. All of us, every single one, myself included, because we’re all fed up with people saying we’ve been unlucky. That doesn’t wash with me. You have to make your own luck, and we have to show our quality on the pitch on a Saturday afternoon, and we’ve got nine games left in this phase now, and we’ve got to try and win as many of them as possible to get ourselves away from the position we’ve put ourselves in. Nobody else has done it, we’ve done it ourselves. Only we as a group can get ourselves further up the table, and we’re only going to do that with hard work, better performances and making better decisions on the football pitch.”
Next up now is a trip to face Airbus UK Broughton, perhaps we’d like to play again next week after today’s win, but it’s a good opportunity nevertheless for us to build on this victory?
“Yes it is. We can enjoy today because it’s been a few weeks since we’ve enjoyed a Saturday. But the focus will turn to Airbus straight away. I don’t care who we play against, what position in the league they are, all I worry about is our performance and that’s all the boys need to focus on. We have to compete for 95 minutes, whatever it was today, and more often than not, if you compete and do the basics well, things will go your way. If you don’t compete, then you’ve got tough afternoons ahead of you, but I think the boys are up for the challenge now in the next nine games. I know I’m certainly up for it, Waggy [Gary Richards] is, and the other staff and the boys are on board with that, and hopefully this is the start of a good run of form.”