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MANAGER: We were ruthless

More from Paul Simpson following the Tuesday night win

1 February 2023

Over nine thousand fans on a horrible, wet, windy Tuesday night is pretty good going, but it no longer comes as a surprise as the feelgood factor continues to blossom around Brunton Park.

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“Getting those numbers says that everything is on the up,” manager Paul Simpson said. “It’s a brilliant turnout and you’ve got to give the Barrow fans credit as well.

“They came in numbers and they all made it a good atmosphere. Obviously they were a bit quieter in the second half thankfully but, for us, that was brilliant support.

“I used the word surprise on Saturday, but they’re not surprising us. They keep turning out and doing this. It’s absolutely fantastic but we have to keep winning games of football to keep them coming back.

“We have to keep doing things properly and credit to the players for doing that at the moment. They were ruthless, apart from that 20 seconds where we allowed them to score, and I didn’t want that.

“All in all I’m absolutely delighted with the performance from the players and the performance from the supporters.

“I think the following is a reflection of how the two teams have been doing. Thankfully we sent them packing and we’re the ones who had a good night. I’m sure for the return game they’ll want to get their own back on us.

“I have to say, when I walked down the tunnel and I heard the noise from behind me and I saw the Warwick Road End, and saw how full that was, it just puts the hairs on the back of your neck standing up.

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“And then I turned around and saw how full the paddock was. The east stand are there in the numbers. Absolutely brilliant. And the big thing is we've put on a performance, got a result that hopefully encourages them to come back.”

And it isn’t just the result that will provide that encouragement, but also the quality of the football on show.

“We knew this wasn’t going to be easy, Barrow are a good side and they play good football,” he agreed. “They’ve got good forwards and they tried to set a little bit of a trap and allow us to keep the ball at the back, and they then tried to press us in midfield.

“I thought we showed really good composure and we scored at a great time just before half time. Mells just nicked in behind and put it away, and he had another one earlier that was similar, which the keeper saved.

“It was hard, it was difficult to break them down, and it was a horrible night to play football with the conditions. I’m sure it was a horrible night for watching football, but when we go back to what we did in the second half I just thought it was hard to deal with.

“We got the basics right, and we’d spoken to the lads about that during the break. We felt that if we got that right we had more than enough to win the game.”

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With Barrow proving to be stubborn, a subtle change in formation saw Jon Mellish push further forward as the defence also rejigged.

“The way that Barrow have set up has been very consistent,” he explained. “They only had one game, I think it might have been Mansfield, where they changed their shape.

“I know they made five changes to the starting team, but the shape was what I expected. They looked to cause us problems with it and although I didn’t like the way they kept the ball for spells, I didn’t think they caused us too many real problems.

“It wasn’t that we were getting overrun, but I felt a change of shape for us might give us a little bit more control and a chance to get ourselves into the game. I’ve got to say it’s a little bit of luck with the goal, with a good finish, but there was a mistake that we pounced on.

“I thought we were really clinical and ruthless and that’s the desire that we’ve got in our group. I actually spoke to Hunts and to Mells before kick off to say that I was thinking that it was going to need to be done.

“I like the way we set up and I like the way we start games, but I think that because the players are adaptable enough they can handle changes like this. I didn’t think Barrow caused us any problems in terms of goalmouth action, but I wasn’t happy with the amount of ball they were getting.

“I thought Brough was getting out a little bit too easy and it was whether or not I changed the midfield set up or the whole shape.

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“Mells does what he does, so I know I can move him about. He’s unpredictable in his running, he got onto a little bit of a mistake to score his goal, but when you’re making those runs things can go for you. His second goal is a fantastic finish and great energy.”

“I’m so pleased with the way that we’re able to change it, mix it up and bring fresh legs on,” he added. “When you have somebody like Joe Garner, who has such a good approach to the way he plays, you’ve always got an outlet.

“Like I say, I’m really pleased with the fact that Omari Patrick has got himself fit again to the point where he can make an impact, and I had it in my mind that he would be a change we’d make, because I don’t want to take any risks with players who haven’t played full games.

“The changes we made were seamless within the starters, and then with the subs who came on. That’s what you want as a manager. I was pleased to get Dev involved as well and that was because I needed to take Mells out with him having the card.

“I wasn’t even bothered that it meant he couldn’t get his hattrick because I’m more concerned about keeping him available for us and I was prepared to take a chance on him getting another booking.”


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