Manager Tony Pennock was left to rue the nature of Haverfordwest County’s late defeat to Bala Town in the final game of Phase One in the JD Cymru Premier on Saturday, but said he could not fault the effort and application of his players.
The Bluebirds led for the majority of the contest after Martell Taylor-Crossdale’s 11th goal of the season just after the half-hour mark.
However, a frantic finale saw the Lakesiders equalise before taking the lead soon after, and although Ben Fawcett’s goal looked to have salvaged a point, Iwan Roberts’ last gasp strike won the contest for the visitors.
Here’s what the manager had to say in full after the game:
On the result
I don’t really know how we lost the game, because I thought the boys, for the vast majority, were fantastic today. We just didn’t take the chances when they came to allow us to close the game out, but as disappointed as I am, I’m disappointed for the boys because it should have been three points, we should have won three points after the performance we’ve had today because we dominated Bala for vast periods of the game.
On the performance
You look at the games we’ve played this year against everybody from top to bottom, we’ve beaten Connah’s Quay, we’ve drawn with Met, we drew with Newtown away. We do compete with the top teams, but every now and then we make the odd silly mistake.
But in terms of application and how the boys applied themselves, we asked them to go for it from the first minute and they did. We just didn’t manage the game well enough. But in terms of what the boys have done for the first phase, they’ve been excellent. We all know how many injuries we’ve had and the people who are missing.
So being the youngest team in the league, I’m hoping the boys have learnt plenty over the last 22 games, and we can take that forward into Phase Two.
On the slow start perhaps costing us
People kept saying to me earlier in the season that it’s a European hangover, and I wasn’t really accepting that, but the more people I speak to, I think it did have a big effect. I know it affected me, never mind the lads.
I think it was hard for everybody to come back down to earth after the initial euphoria of what we achieved in Europe. People need to sit back and realise how well we did in Europe, and it took a toll on the lads. We’ve only got 19 senior players in the squad, and four of those haven’t played all season, so when you’re relying on the youngsters – who’ve been exceptional – along with the more experienced boys in the group, then maybe tomorrow I’ll look at it and think, well, we’re on 28 points, it’s one point more than we had this time last year, so that’s progression.
Our away form has been far better this year than it was last year, so we have moved forward, it’s just at the minute it’s a bit raw to come away losing that game today, because we know we should have won that game. The game should have been done and dusted by 60 minutes, but it wasn’t, and unfortunately good teams punish you when they get a chance, and Bala did that today.
On the clear target for Phase Two
We’ve got one aim now for the rest of the last 10 games, and that’s to finish seventh. We know how tough that’s going to be because I think the bottom six is far tougher this year than it was last year, and that’s no disrespect to the teams who were in the division last year.
I think all of the teams have strengthened this year. This time last year, we were still in a relegation battle, never mind trying to fight for seventh place. I think it’s a slightly different scenario this year for us, but we’ve got a few weeks now until Phase Two gets under way.
I’ll be looking at things that I need to be better at, so I can give the boys the most help I can give them for the last 10 games of the season, because we’ve got 10 cup finals.
I really hope that the league give us Friday night games because we know how good it is at this ground on a Friday night. There’s five south Wales teams in the bottom six, counting Aberystwyth in that, so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have four home Friday night games.
That’s what we’ve been aiming for, that’s what we’ve asked for, and if we can do that and get the fantastic support that we’ve had all season behind us, then I know the boys will thrive on that. We’ll do everything we can as a club to support the boys, and do everything we can to finish top seven.
The league want bigger crowds, our biggest crowds are in midweek and on Friday nights. The Pembrokeshire League is a really strong football league, and there’s a lot of big teams playing on a Saturday afternoon, at the same time as us. So, if we play Friday night, then people may come and watch us, as opposed to not coming on a Saturday afternoon.
So that’s what we’ve asked for. The boys love it when there’s a big crowd here. There was a good crowd here today. Most people have gone away really pleased with the boys’ performance, and as disappointed as I am, as the staff are, at one time we were top six today, but we knew we couldn’t rely on other people, it was down to ourselves and we didn’t do the job required in the end.
So irrespective of what happened in the other game, we didn’t do what we had to do, but I know the boys did everything they possibly could to get that result today, and unfortunately fine margins went against us again. That said, I know the boys will be stronger for the last 10 games.
On drawing confidence from last season
We did it last year. There’s no reason why we can’t do it again this year. We know it’s going to be hard, but like I said we’re a point further ahead than we were this time last year, and by the time Phase Two starts there’ll be at least three people available who weren’t available today. When we’ve got that boost to go with the one player we’ve definitely signed, if we can sign another one as well then that’ll make us even stronger, but what I need is everybody fighting and going in the same direction, and I’m pretty certain the boys will do that.