First team coach Paul Murray gave us his reaction to the 1-0 victory over Pirelli FC at Frenchfield Park on Wednesday evening as a young Blues side secured their place in the third round of this season’s Cumberland Cup competition courtesy of a late penalty conversion from striker Keighran Kerr.
“I thought we were pretty poor in the first half,” he said. “We were a touch better in the second half, but we really had to be. They threw everything at us towards the end with their set pieces and long throws, but we have to be so much better on the ball than we were.
“The disappointing aspect of the night was seeing us give the ball away too much when we were in good situations. If these players want to become professionals then they have to know that you have to have that side of the game in your locker. You simply need to be good on the ball.”
“Fair play to Keighran for stepping up and putting his penalty in the middle of the goal,” he added. “That takes some guts, because he’ll have been under a bit of pressure, and ultimately it got us through to the next round.
“I’ve watched him play for the youth team a couple of times and he’s a lively player. He likes to get in behind and he’s one who needs to time his runs a little bit better. The good thing was that he wanted the ball straight away and he made sure he scored, so fair play to the lad.”
“I’ve told all of them in the dressing room that I accept a bit of inconsistency, because they are still young and learning, but being that amount of inconsistenty isn’t going to do them many favours,” he commented. “With no disrespect to Pirelli, I thought we played really well against a better team in the last round, and that’s why we can’t come into this game and play as far below the standard required as we did.
“It was a poor performance, but the lads have won it and hopefully they’ll have learned the lessons for the next round, where they’ll play and perform much better.”
With a number of first and second year professionals in the starting line-up, he said: “The older lads who already have their contracts are expected to step up and lead the way in games like this.
“If they don’t, the reality is that they end up playing for a local side lower down the leagues. They’re the facts unless you grasp your opportunity.
“The positive is that we got through and we kept a clean sheet. Every player should have the mentality that they want to win anything they’re involved in. I certainly had that as a player and to be fair to the lads, they wanted this one.
“They were up against a side who weren’t scared to be physical, and that’s good to see as well. That’s another part of football and you have to be able to deal with it.
“Like I say, it’s good for the lads to come up against teams like that, but we’ve got to be better. If we’d passed the ball and moved it around quicker, we would have frustrated them and made it easier on ourselves.
“We just didn’t do that first half, which was disappointing. The second half was a little bit better, but it’s all a massive learning curve for the lads.”
One concern to come out of the game was the early departure of wide man Jack Egan as he failed to recover from a hefty challenge.
“Jack has been brave by going into the first tackle, then he got another one and he just couldn’t carry on,” he explained. “We aren’t too sure what it is yet, I think it was just a kick, so he should be alright.”
And looking ahead to the first team’s away trip to Swindon Town this weekend, he told us: “Obviously we were disappointed to go out of the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday, but that’s gone and it’s all about Swindon now.
“Our away form has been very good this season, and we want to carry that on.”
“They have a new manager, so he’ll be looking for a reaction, but with the set-up we have and the way we play football I’m confident we can perform well down in Swindon,” he continued. “If they want to play football, then fair enough, but we know we can combat that.
“We’ll just concentrate on our team and how we perform, and it’s up to us to go there and do our jobs.”
“I’ve played in a few charity games with Richie [Wellens] so I know him quite well,” he concluded. “He’s already come out in the press and said he wants to play football, but our set-up away from home is always good, so we’ll go there looking to get the result.”
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