Manager Tony Pennock was pleased with the way his Haverfordwest County team responded to going a man down to record a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Airbus UK Broughton at the Ogi Bridge Meadow on Saturday.
The Bluebirds lost Ricky Watts on the half-hour mark when the midfielder was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Jamie Crowther, but the Bluebirds weren’t perturbed and went on to secure a dominant win against a Wingmakers team who played the final 17 minutes with 10 men after Gareth Edwards’ sending off.
Speaking after the game, Pennock was quick to praise the performance of his team, as the Town moved four points clear at the top of the JD Cymru Premier Playoff Conference.
“[I’m] extremely happy, I thought the boys were excellent,” he began. “I thought we started really well, created a number of chances that we didn’t take, and then we got the sending off which could have made the boys a bit more nervous, but it didn’t, we kept playing our football and got the goal pretty quickly after [the sending off]. That settled the lads down and then second half we just controlled the game then.”
After a relatively quiet start to the match, the red card could have come as a real blow to the Bluebirds, but it had the opposite effect and spurned the team on, with County taking control from then on.
“Sometimes it’s tough playing with 10 men, and sometimes it gives you a little bit of a nudge to push on and that’s what the lads did today,” said Pennock. “Obviously they had the man sent off in the second half which evened things up, and from then on we were pretty much in control.”
Ben Fawcett was on hand to give Haverfordwest County the lead just three minutes after the sending off, and the manager was pleased with the way the number nine continued to put himself in the right positions to be a goal threat.
“That’s what we say to whoever is playing up front, get yourself between the posts. We missed a couple where we weren’t quite in the six-yard box before the goal, but when he gets himself there more often than not he’ll score, he’ll score loads of goals and when he does it he puts them away.”
After Ioan Evans had doubled the Bluebirds’ advantage shortly after the hour mark, Pennock was able to introduce striker Dan Hawkins – who joined the club on an 18-month deal on Thursday – to make his debut, while also bringing on defender Oscar Borg, who returned from suspension.
“It was pleasing to be able to give people a rest. We left a couple out of the squad today because they’ve been carrying little niggles, and when we’ve got players fit like we have at the moment, it’s good to utilise everybody to get them on the pitch.
“I thought all the substitutes came on and made a massive impact, with the fresh legs that they brought to the game adding to our impetus then, and we kept going for the 90 minutes.”
Evans’ goal was his second in as many weeks, and was a carbon copy of his effort away at Aberystwyth last week as he followed up on a shot before finding the net on the rebound.
“Ioan was very good again today,” Pennock said. “He did the same last week, following in from a shot, keeping his composure and he’s put it away. That was a big goal to help settle things down.”
After Jamie Veale had made it 3-0 with a tremendous free-kick from just outside the area, the Town were able to round the game off in style when substitutes Jack Leahy and Hawkins combined to hand the latter his first goal on his first Bluebirds appearance.
“That’s what Jack was brought in to do, either score or create goals, and he’s got himself into a good position in the box and laid it on a plate for Dan to finish.
“Again, it’s a case of getting between the posts and taking your chances, and that’s what a few of our goals look like today.”
This game was the first of back-to-back home matches, and the first of four home matches in our next five outings, and Pennock was pleased that his team could start this run in positive fashion as the Bluebirds look to press home their advantage in the weeks to come.
“We knew we had four games out of five at home, and we know how important they are to us. Our home form has been very good all season. We took advantage of that today, and we have to do the same next week. We have to start preparing now for Caernarfon – it’ll be a tough test.
“They’ve beaten us twice this season, and we’ve beat them here, so we have to make home advantage count next week.”
Although the Bluebirds currently top the Playoff Conference standings, Pennock was keen to stress that his players only need to keep focusing on the next challenge, ensuring they continue to play to their capabilities.
“Everybody looks at the table, but all we have to do is look at ourselves and make sure we do our job properly. If we do that and we play the way we can play, as I’ve said before, we know we can compete with most teams, and that’s all we can do, one game at a time and see where that takes us. Next week is a big game.”