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MANAGER: There was a nervousness around the whole place

23 March 2024


MANAGER: There was a nervousness around the whole place

23 March 2024

We spoke to manager Paul Simpson after today’s draw with Stevenage.

“It was a really tough end to the game,” he admitted. “I think the penalty is a little bit dubious, I’ve got to be honest. I’ve looked back at it and there is not a chance the referee could see it from the position he’s in, there must be seven or eight players in his way. He doesn’t go to give it, and I think their lad has gone down really late, so that’s disappointing.

“Once they got that goal back I thought we were really nervous, we didn’t get any pressure on the ball. We knew what they were going to do, they were going to stick it on top of us, and that’s what they did. They got their reward from it by getting the second goal. It was a really good save from Harry then you’re just hoping that one of the others around him could help him out, but they didn’t.

“It’s massively disappointing because we were in a really good position and I thought we had some really good opportunities to finish the game, but we didn’t. Again, it’s both boxes. If you don’t take your chances when you have them and don’t clear your lines and defend your own box then you’re going to have problems, especially against a team like Stevenage. Even on a bad day they were really effective.”

“That save at the end is the only save Harry had to make,” he continued. “We defended the box really well from their set plays, long throws and diagonals they put in. There was a nervousness around the whole place when they got the penalty which gave them a leg up and something to go for. We weren’t able to deal with that bit of pressure that came at us.”

“They put a shift in, without a doubt,” he said. “We scored two good goals and probably should have scored more if we’re going to be completely honest. We had good opportunities that we haven’t made the most of. It’s hugely disappointing to have only taken a point out of it because that was a game we should have won, especially when it’s against one of the teams up the top of the table.

“The performance had lots of good things, but I’m like the 7,500 fans who were here today and I’m going home really disappointed that we haven’t got three points.”

“It was great football for the first goal,” he said. “It was a great ball from Harrison Neal and Jack Ellis showed real calmness about him to roll it across the box. Butts has got in on the end of it after starting it off with a bit of link up down the left hand side. The second one is a good finish, he’s got real power when he strikes balls but unfortunately there’s been a lot of times this season where he’s blazed it over the bar. It was good to see the second one go in off the post, then you think we’ve got an opportunity here.

“There were some tired legs out there but I couldn’t make changes because we were small on the bench. The majority are small players, unless we stuck Gabe on as a central defender it would have made us smaller. We knew what was coming and we knew they’d lump it in and stick it on top of us so we decided to stick with it.

“I’m massively disappointed we weren’t able to see the game through. It’s the last kick of the game when the goal goes in and it’s one of them because we’re not used to getting wins. I’m not sure the last time we had a game where we were 2-0 up, we needed to manage that game better but we just aren’t used to it unfortunately.”

On the decision to start Taylor Charters in place of Jack Diamond, he said: “I thought we needed to have an extra midfield player in there more than anything. I’ve probably expected too much from Jack Diamond after a long time without playing. He’s come in and had a run of games but I thought he was starting to look tired. I felt as though he could be an impact sub for us but unfortunately it didn’t work that way. He had a great opportunity to go and finish the save but the keeper made the save. Jack will get better but we’ve only got seven games left and we need players who are going to make a huge impact straight away.”

“I thought the fans were outstanding,” he said. “With the run of results we’re on and the league position we’re in, to get over 7,000 is incredible from them and we can only thank them for coming again. I thought they were like the players and got nervous when it went to 2-1 because they’re used to seeing that type of thing again. Credit to them for turning up in their numbers, and we’re all massively disappointed we’re not going away with three points.

“We have to build on this now. My challenge for the players is to finish the season as well as we possibly can. We’re looking at what we can do better and what we can do differently, that’s the challenge for every individual.

“We’ve got a tough run of games with Peterborough and Lincoln over Easter, but we’ve earned the right to be in League One. We haven’t been able to sustain a run of performances and results which would have put us higher up the table but we’ve just got to make sure we go to Peterborough to put on the type of performance we have today with a better result.”

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