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REACTION: The fans really got behind us

6 September 2014

AFC Wimbledon match reaction from Tony Caig and Paul Thirlwell

First team coaches Tony Caig and Paul Thirlwell gave us their reaction to the 4-4 draw with AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

“You end up feeling a little bit of everything after a game like that,” Thirlwell said. “The initial reaction straight after it is disappointment. We were winning and then we conceded really late, and it can be cruel.

“We just have to thank the players for the effort they put in and I don’t think we could have got anything more out of the group. We’re dealing with injuries, we had to have two young kids on the bench and we’ve got a senior player coming off with the cramp at the end of it all. We probably didn’t get what we deserved but that’s football for you.”

“It turned out to be a strange afternoon,” Caig added. “We’ve scored four goals but we haven’t won the game, so that has to be the most disappointing thing. The decision from the referee changed things because that gave them the impetus to push on. 

“The lads have been absolutely brilliant and we have to look at how many have come through the ranks, and how many of them are local. That’s really encouraging for us and definitely something the club can take forward.”

“Gary [Dicker] has told us that it was handball,” Thirlwell confirmed. “However, he felt his hands were down by his side and the shot came pretty much from point blank range. I suppose the question is - what are you supposed to do in that situation? Without seeing it again we can’t comment too much but the referee seems pretty adamant that he got it right. You’d expect that because he’s the one who gave the decision.

“What’s done is done and, in a way, you hope it is a penalty because we don’t want to end up feeling like we’ve been robbed again. We’ll have another look and we’ll see what we decide to do from there.”

“If we feel there are grounds for an appeal then we’ll definitely look at it,” Caig commented. “Gary is fairly frustrated about the fact he was sent off for it and, from my viewpoint, I actually thought Mark [Gillespie] had blocked it. We’ll see where we go with it once we’ve had another look.”

“The atmosphere today was fantastic,” Thirlwell said. “I think it was a good game to watch and I think everyone goes away feeling they’ve been entertained. We started the game reasonably well but we went a goal down and the response after that was superb. 

“We got back into it and we got just what we needed before half time with the equaliser. We were in the ascendancy at the start of the second half and, when we were sat at 4-2 on 70 minutes, it all felt fairly comfortable. The sending off had a big impact and we like to think we’d have seen the game out if it had stayed at 11v11. Having said that, we still have a heck of a lot of positives to take from it.”

“Josh [Gillies] has done really well,” Caig agreed. “I suppose you have to say he is playing with a point to prove. He’s quite a quiet lad and he just goes about his business and gets on with things. He’s had a really positive affect, he’s got his goal and hopefully this is the start of him really kicking on with his Carlisle career.

“We told all of the lads just to get out there and play. When you haven’t been picking up results you can have a tendency to go into your shell a little bit. You’re not as willing to express yourself on the ball and your game goes backwards slightly. I think we saw players playing with a lot of freedom attacking wise and that’s a very positive sign. 

“Any future manager who was here today will go away thinking there’s a lot to work with, particularly if that’s the group of younger players we have to back up those who are injured at the moment. Those more experienced players are going to have a fight to get back in the team, with the way things are going, because the younger players are putting the performances in for us.”

“Overall it was a game I thoroughly enjoyed,” Thirlwell admitted. “It was a new experience for us as coaches and there’s plenty for us to take from it as well. 

“It all started with the early mistake for their goal and things went on from there. You have to remember that Dave Symington has a fair bit of football under his belt so he’s experienced now. If that had happened to him six months ago he might have gone under a little bit. For whatever reason he made a poor decision but he held his hands up for it. He’s cracked on, got on with his job and turned it into a really good performance.”

“The fans really got behind us, even when we went behind, and that’s important,” Caig said. “I think they can relate to the fact we have local players and lads who have come through the youth system in our team. 

“They get behind you here if they see that you’re having a go and we’ve stressed that to the players this week. You do get the odd shout of different things, but that’s football. You take it and get on with it. The fans responded to what they saw in this game and they pushed us on right to the end. I’m just sorry that we couldn’t get over the line at the end for them.”

“As far as we’re concerned we’ll carry on next week as we are now,” Thirlwell told us. “I’m sure we’ll be in control for the early part of next week and, if things change, we’ll be told about it as the week progresses. 

“It’s an experience for us to enjoy. Caigy has been coaching for a number of years and it’s something I want to get into as well. It’s been a good opportunity for me to see this side of things. We’ll continue to do it until the process is complete and then we’ll see where we are.”

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