| - MANAGER'S COLUMN -
Previous columns can be found under the match report of the game to which they refer, while video interviews can be found here
We stressed before the game at Hereford that the win was the most important thing. Winning the prize money is important for the club and it puts us in the next round, but just the win, in what I've got to say was a difficult away game, was important to get us out of the rut of drawing and losing games that we've been in for the last month.
It's easy to say that you can't legislate for the type of goal we conceded, but I think I can because it sums up everything that's happened this season, but what I would say is that the players didn't let it affect them, including the goalkeeper who I think went on to have a good, solid game, and that showed some character in itself for the team to rally, because it was another kick in the teeth. We talk about not conceding, and keeping a clean sheet, then when something like that happens it's difficult, and it has been a difficult season, but credit to the players who came back well from that and I don't think if it had been 3-1 or 4-1 many people would have complained.
I think Ricky Wellard's done really well in the part of the pitch he's been playing in the last couple of weeks, and certainly when he cuts in from the right. For a while in the first half we swapped things over because we thought Shaq should be on his natural side, but for Ricky to go on and get the equaliser was a good confidence boost for him after being out for a few games, and I thought he ran the game to a certain extent. He was also found brilliantly by the centre-halves, particularly Micky Spillane. Shaun Cooper had a calf strain in training on Tuesday – it's not bad, but kept him out today, and the nature of our situation meant that Micky had to play at centre back and I thought he did really well. With Louis John injured as well the options weren't huge, but I saw him play there against Bath where he was exceptional until the referee wrongly sent him off, and we discussed it in the week and it was either play him or Kevin Amankwaah there, and Micky's too good a player not to be in the side somewhere, and I thought he and Cloughie looked good today.
Ian and Micky were urging me to be patient in the second half, when I was desperate to get pace on in the wide areas, and I think it was the right thing to do because we were in control of the whole second half. I was just worried that the one time we slipped up they might hit us on the break, but that fear comes from not winning games. I think if we'd been winning recently I wouldn't have been so anxious, and even when Glen missed the penalty I was thinking 'here we go again', and when they got that free kick in the last second you're almost waiting for that equaliser to end up in the back of the net.
Just before half time our bench felt that, while it looked soft, we should have had a penalty when Shaq was fouled, and I took umbrage at one of their players accusing him of cheating. He's still a youngster and he needs looking after, but it was just 'handbags' at half time. Everyone got together during the interval, well marshalled by the referee, and we all shook hands, so I don't think the sending off was necessarily a result of the incident, more of Shaquille's ability and pace, and while it looked a poor challenge I felt it maybe warranted a yellow and a big talking-to. It wasn't malicious – infact the player was one of those who'd been involved in getting everyone together at half time, so I felt a bit sorry for him.
Ricky Wellard's had two games now in the past six or seven weeks so was feeling a bit at the end. What's a bit disappointing is that when he came off he said his legs had gone about ten minutes earlier, and it would be nice if players actually indicated that when it happened, but it's good as well in that it showed that players don't want to come off the pitch, because I've seen players who do want to come off. I thought he put in a great shift, and it also allowed a very talented young man to come on in Jack Evans, who we've got high hopes for. He's got to be patient, and I hope he is, but we really like him.
Billy Medlock signed an 18-month contract this week, and with Jamie White with us now and our feeling that Craig Dundas can be an out and out centre forward we've got three strikers, and unlike some clubs we can't afford to keep another two so that was a factor in allowing Jessy Reindorf to leave this week. If we get injury problems I'll look at a loan signing, but at the moment we're really happy with how our striking options look. As regards to Kane Haysman, he suffered from the way Shaquille has come in and done so well. We are going to give him a chance, and I knew Ricky Wellard was coming back as well, and as I didn't see Kane getting in in front of Shaq that was the reason for letting him go.
We're taking Tuesday's Surrey Senior Cup game at South Park seriously, and six or seven of the squad at Hereford will start the game, and a few of the reserves will come in as well. James Bracken's going to take the game, and myself Micky and Ian will watch from the stand, and we'll be looking closely at the players who are striving to get in to our first eleven and also to see if the three or four from the reserves are as good as people keep telling us they are. At the moment James has done a magnificent job in bringing through Shaquille, because if you can get one or two of your reserves through in to your first team then that's the job done, and I've got to say that the credit for Shaquille goes down to James. If Shaquille keeps improving then we've got a real talent on our hands and one we'd like to progress on.
The supporters that travelled today gave us brilliant support – nearly 100 again travelling down to watch us, making a good noise, and we really appreciate that. The management and players know they make a big difference to this football club, and the lads mentioned it after the game in the dressing room, and we'd really like to dedicate the win to them, because they haven't watched too many in the last month or two, but we promise we're working really hard to try and make the season get better, which is all they can ask of us and is what we'll keep trying to do.