Man of the match Ali Al-Hamadi and linchpin Alex Pearce both hailed the defensive resilience and togetherness of the side after we wrapped up another home win.
Ali prepared for a week of World Cup qualifiers with Iraq by bagging a brace with two very different, but important goals, in each half – while Alex Pearce showed his solidity at the back, having come in for Ryan Johnson.
“We’ve shown great character this week to get three home wins in a row,” said Ali. “We’re through in two competitions and I think we’ve shown it immensely to come back from those two really poor results in the league.
“Within the group, we are really confident that we are a good team and we felt it was just a matter of time before we got firing again. We've come away with three home wins in a week in three different competitions – I think everyone can be proud of that.”
“We said in the dressing room afterwards that it had been a really big week for the Club and for the lads in general,” added Alex. “Most importantly, we’ve put in the performances. To top it off with a win in the league is outstanding. We’re really pleased with the result."
It was achieved at a cost though, with the dismissals of Huseyin Biler and Omar Bugiel, but the camaraderie amongst the group saw us through to a clean sheet, despite ending the game with nine men left on the pitch.
“Sometimes you have to bail your mates out and we back each other,” said Ali. “That’s the togetherness we have, so no one is pointing fingers or blaming – we just get on with it. We felt we wanted to close out the game out for those boys.
“To be honest, we could have played another 100 minutes, and they wouldn’t have scored because we were so good defensively. Pearcey was brilliant.”
“We had to dig in there,” said Alex. “I think that was a real test for the group, for those last 20 minutes when we went down to 10 men. I think we could all sense on the pitch that it was a pivotal moment.
“We all knew we had to dig in as a group and we did. I thought our shape was outstanding. We forced them one way, forced them wide, and when the crosses came in we dealt with them. It was really pleasing to come away with a clean sheet, especially under such tough circumstances of going down to 10 men.
“It was more about the reaction of the lads and I was really pleased with how we all dug in and stuck together. That’s what good teams do – get each other out of trouble and when something bad happens you all come together. That’s what it’s all about.”
“We could have played better, but for me that’s a sign of a really good team. It’s because we’re getting the basics right, we’re good defensively, and we know we’ve got players who can hurt teams on the break.
“I know from training each day how hard Ali is to play against. I pity any defender that comes up against him in this league. He’s got the beating of anyone, and he can certainly go on and have a really good career, if he keeps going in the same direction.”
Match photography by Ian Stephen (Pro Sports Images).