Midfielder Antony Sweeney gave us his reaction to his first goal for the club and the team performance in the 1-1 draw with Southend United at the weekend.
“There’s a bit of a feeling of disappointment in the dressing room after that one,” he admitted. “You want to be winning your home games, especially after a slow start to the season, but I think they’re a team that will be challenging at the top end come the end of the season.
“We had a chance early in the second half and maybe it’s a different game if that had gone in. I’m sure they’ll be disappointed as well because Mark [Gillespie] has pulled off some decent saves, so we’ve had to work hard to get the point.”
“I think their equaliser was a crucial point in the game,” he agreed. “If we’d got through to half time then our team talk would be different. Who knows how the second half would then pan out? To concede the goal so soon after we’d got ours was a major disappointment and that’s possibly because we dropped off a little bit too deep.
“Conceding a goal like that does the change the mood in the dressing room, even though it possibly shouldn’t. You’re going to get set backs in games but, with it being when it was, it was a bit of a psychological blow. We scored, everyone was up, and we just wanted to see it through with it being that close to half time. We actually said that on the pitch – let’s see this through and we’ll regroup at half time and do what we need to do. We took that blow and I’m not sure we were as good as we wanted to be in the second half.”
“This is a tough league and most games are going to pan out in the same way,” he added. “It’s going to be a battle and it’s going to be tough. The better teams will keep tight as the game goes on and they’ll get themselves in front. That’s when they will then play their football and take it out of the legs of the other team. We haven’t managed to get that goal in front, and keep it for long enough, to allow us to start doing that yet.
“The next few games will tell us if the last two draws are the start of us finding our feet or not. We are disappointed with the points return at this stage but we’ve shown signs where the fans can see what it is we’re trying to do. Obviously we’re not there yet but we have a lot of new players and it’s going to take time. A good example is the way I have to get used to playing with Pottsy. We’re similar players so we have to get used to what we do when one of us bombs forward. The other one then has to move over and cover in midfield. Our communication will get better and it will all come.”
“It could be anything that will get us that first win,” he told us. “It could be a bit off good play from us or a bit of bad play from them, or even a bit of luck. We’ve just got to grind something out and, if we can do that, even if we don’t deserve it, then it will be a major boost for us. That’s when I think you’ll see the confidence flowing back. We’ll keep working and I’m sure it’s just round the corner.
“We’re doing all the right things but I’ve been in teams that are struggling before. It’s very difficult to shake that tag and, even though it’s an obvious thing to say, the only way to move on is to pick up points.
“I think the feeling of losing games sticks with the fans more than anything. Until that win comes they’ll be wondering if things are just going to be the same. The only way to turn that round for them is to get the wins. We’ll take that any way it comes. We’ve got to set our stall out so that we’re going to battle and scrap and I think we’ve got better football players than a lot of teams in this division. However, you’ve got to earn the right to prove that. Until you win those battles all over the pitch you simply aren’t going to do much in this league.”
On his own performances, he said: “I’d like to think I have a lot more in the locker. I had a tough season last season and I didn’t play anywhere near as many games as I wanted to, through injury and through selection.
“I’m now trying to find my feet in the 90 minutes, where you build your level of play up, and it’s with the nervous energy and the adrenalin in games that you start to do that. That’ll come back because I think I’ve done a fair few good things and some not so good things so far. It’s still early in the season and I’d like to think I’ll get better as the games go on.
“Getting a goal obviously helps a lot. To be honest, my eyes lit up when I saw the ball come in. Well ... that was until Billy [Paynter] got a flick just in front of me and I had to readjust. Thankfully it went in the net but it was a fantastic cross. That’s why Patrick [Brough] is in the team because he has the energy to get up there. We need that from him and Dave Symington with the system we play and, if they put that quality of ball in, I’m sure someone will be there to finish it off.”
And on settling in at his new club, he commented: “Having spent so long at Hartlepool I thought it was bound to be a strange situation when I first came here. Everyone has been fantastic with me and I think I’ve settled in quite well.
“It’s been an easy transition for me and that’s testament to the lads and to the club itself. I’m really enjoying it but I’ll enjoy it even more once we start getting these wins. I was obviously very disappointed not to start the first game but I’m experienced enough to know it’s a long season. You need your squad so, if you aren’t involved, you just have to take it on the chin. From my point of view I’m enjoying being back in the team but I’d like to think there’s a lot more to come and that I’ve got a lot more to show to the fans.”
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