Monday 19 March 2018

Manager criticises gruelling league fixture schedule

AS he prepares his side for their third match in seven days, Alan Mathews has hit out at the powers that be for inflicting a gruelling schedule on his part-time squad.

The Bray Wanderers manager is already counting the cost of the fixture schedule, with five first-team players currently sidelined, leaving Mathews with a thinning squad.

"I don't know why the league do it", Mathews questioned. "You look at the game that was called off tonight, Cork and Limerick – two full-time teams, they call off the game - I don't know why the pitch was unavailable. This is the second time this has happened this season. We played Shelbourne the Monday after we played down in Limerick then we played here against Sligo, so we've had three games in a week twice since the start of the season and for the life of me I don't know why. The league will obviously come up with their own reasons for it but it doesn't do us or it doesn't do players any favours to be doing that."

Bohemians were the Seagulls' fifth league opponents this season. Despite being a goal and a man up for over an hour, the Wicklow club threw away two points as they allowed Dinny Corcoran to steal a late leveller for the Gypsies. Both Mathews and David Cassidy know it was an opportunity lost.

Mathews said: "It wasn't even the extra man (that made us favourites) , it was the way we played for the first hour. We dominated possession, Bohs went very direct, they got a fortuitous equaliser in the last minute but we should've seen the game off. We'd chances either side of half time from David Webster and Izzy. If Izzy's lob goes in that would've sealed the game really because at that stage it would've been 0-2.

"They didn't threaten us in any shape or form. We just stopped passing the ball, we didn't pass the ball well at all in the second half and it was disappointing not to win the game. It felt like a defeat but we'll take a lot of positives from it. We had a lot of players playing for us in that stadium for the first time and they acquitted themselves really well. And to lose Jake, that had an effect on players as well because they all knew that it was a serious injury."

Cassidy echoed his manager's sentiments: "It was very disappointing. Not even the result, just the way we played in the second half. We should've taken the game to them but instead we sat back in the second half and let them take the game to us. I think that's more disappointing; the performance rather than the result. That way, it's only a matter of time before they do score.

"Looking at it, you probably would've taken a point (beforehand) but after the sending off and going 0-1 up, we know on our day we can beat anyone. We showed that against Sligo, we've shown bits and pieces here tonight. We can get at teams."

After collecting only a point on Friday, Bray had none to show for their efforts after being undone by league champions St. Patrick's Athletic at the Carlisle Grounds on Monday.

That did not drain any optimism from Mathews though.

"We can go to Dalymount and be disappointed, we're disappointed that we didn't get two-all tonight, David Cassidy's free kick hit the post in the 80-odd minute. We kept our discipline, we kept our belief and we kept plugging away. We showed great spirit and character to get back into the game with a wonderful corner kick – well executed by Dave Cassidy. Pat's are a good side. They're full time, we'd about six guys sitting in the stand tonight out through injury who on another night, would be playing. None of them could make a contribution tonight for one reason or another."

Those six men are Danny O'Connor, Shane O'Connor, Eric McGill, Adam Hanlon, Jake Kelly and Shane Redmond. None will be available for Friday's trip to Drogheda.

With that in mind, Cassidy knows things will be doubly difficult against his former club. He has faith in Redmond's replacement though and is also confident that the goals will start coming for the Seagulls soon.

"The lad (McGuinness) has done very well. He's done well in training and I think at the moment he's making it his spot. When Shane comes back he's got a fight on his hands, he hasn't put a foot wrong. He's conceded four goals in two games but I don't think any of them were his fault. He kept us in it at Bohs with a great save and he's made a good few saves again here today.

"It was nice to get another goal but it's just worth nothing. I think everyone's going to have to chip in. If we have a good season it's not going to be just two or three people scoring goals, it needs to be a whole squad. That's coming from the defenders coming up for set-pieces (to everyone else)".

Wicklow People