Wally Downes told his players not to dwell on the disappointment of being eliminated from the Carabao Cup on penalties.
With a home league match to come against Accrington Stanley on Saturday, our manager urged the players not to be burdened by the outcome of the penalty shoot-out.
“It was a terrific fightback, we kept going towards the end and I said to the players in there that you can’t class this as a defeat,” Wally said. “We drew the game 2-2. If that was a league game everyone goes away saying, ‘what a great fightback’. They kept going and got a deserved equaliser at the end, so they shouldn’t carry the burden of losing on penalties. It was a lottery and it doesn’t really matter at all.
“I was so pleased for the boys that they kept going and they scored at the end. We didn’t play as well as I hoped we would, but there was a resilience that hasn’t been there on a couple of occasions. We showed tonight that even if we aren’t playing well we will keep going. There was a never-say-die spirit amongst the group.”
Eighteen-year-old Paul Osew came on for his senior debut in the second-half, impressing with his energy up and down the left flank. Wally felt that all three substitutes – Rod McDonald and Michael Folivi also entered the fray – made a difference.
“The three subs came on and changed the game,” added Wally. “That’s been a feature in this team since I’ve been here and I think that’s a testament to the dressing room. I expect them to be disappointed when they don’t get on, but they are all supportive and I can name stacks of games last season when subs came on and did their jobs. That’s really professional of them and what I expect from them.
“We’ve been the better side for half of the game in the two matches we’ve lost. We didn’t play well in this game, but we showed resilience and carried on going until the end. We need to be putting the performances together. My job is to get them a bit more cohesive so that we put 90 minutes in. At the moment there are still a few youngsters out there that are gelling in and it’s a big call to get 90 minutes out of them against seasoned pros, but that’s what we’ve got to do and that’s their job. You have to bite the bullet sometimes and hope that they learn quickly, but I’ve got every confidence that they will.”
Take a look at the full interview with Wally below.