Club captain Danny Grainger got himself off the mark when he bagged his first goal of the season against Sunderland on Tuesday night when he swept home a rebound from an initial penalty save by Robbin Ruiter.
We spoke to him about his goal, and the game, shortly after the full time whistle had blown.
“Obviously we’re all disappointed but I think we can be proud of our performance,” he said. “We’ve just gone toe-to-toe with a good Championship team that’s going to be having expectations of getting back into the Premier League this year.
“I thought the lads were fantastic and it’s unfortunate that we’ve fallen short. The different scenarios of what might have happened will go through my mind for a couple of days now but it’s been and gone and we can’t affect it any more.
“I think I read a tweet last week which said we’d never been beaten in a cup competition by a team from a higher division in the normal 90 minutes since Keith [Curle] took over and that shows how far we’ve come.
“For this game to be the first time that’s happened is credit to us, the manager and everybody involved with the club. As I say, we are disappointed but there’ll be no lingering on that in the dressing room. There are too many senior players in there who know how important it is to get your head right quickly.
“We’ve started off the league campaign in decent form and I know the manager will hammer that home again on Thursday when we’re back in training.”
Now our expected and regular penalty taker, the skipper admitted he was more than a little surprised when Black Cats keeper Robbin Ruiter made the save from his initial second half spot kick.
“I wasn’t nervous, or anything like that, but I was shocked when I missed it,” he commented. “I’ve been practicing them recently as well, so I think I’ll go back to not doing that and just leave it to sticking them in the back of the net.
“It was nice to see it roll back to me so I could tap it in. I’ve had a wager on goals with Tom [Miller] and he’s decided that penalties don’t count, so he’ll be thinking it was done deliberately with that in mind. The good thing is that I’m always confident when I step up to take them and I know I’ll be confident again when the next one comes along.
“The other thing the lads are saying is that I’m trying to take an assist as well as a goal. All I could think when the ball came back at me was – don’t blaze it over the bar! I knew there were people coming in behind me so I wanted to make sure that I’d set myself properly. I’m delighted to see the ball hit the back of the net but I’m more disappointed that I had to see two hit the back of ours.”
“It’s obviously my first goal of the season and it’s always fantastic to score in front of the Warwick,” he told us. “The fans were fantastic and it’s superb to hear the roar when you score. It was great to see Brunton Park rocking and hopefully they’ll be back to see us again for the Mansfield game.
Losing the game to Sunderland and going off to a standing ovation is something special. It tells us something is building here at the club ...
“Thinking back to when the manager first came in we were bottom of the league and getting booed off the pitch, and things like that. Losing the game to Sunderland and going off to a standing ovation is something special. It tells us something is building here at the club.”
Speaking about the much stronger looking defensive unit, he said: “It’s good that we’ve restricted the number of chances teams have been getting because that helps. With Sunderland we only allowed what is a good Championship side to get one second half chance.
“I probably look at myself a little bit for their goal because he cut inside and I should have communicated more with Nicky [Adams]. I’ll learn from that and we’ll all make sure we move forward.
“We’ve got to make sure we keep working hard and reproducing that level of performance every week. Lincoln are next and we’ll have to go down there and do it right. This cup has gone now so it’s all about having the focus and mindset to play well again on Saturday.”
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