Joey, I imagine there were a lot of positives to take from what was a full-fledged derby match this afternoon?
Yeah, I really enjoyed it.
After a tough week where we gave a lot of information to the guys because we changed shape and I thought we looked great.
I’m really happy with the performance, coming here against a very good team. Swindon are a very good team, as we know.
I think we showed the way we want to play. For me, I think we dominated the game. We were the team that looked likely to score, we limited them to counter-attacks and there won’t be many teams coming to this stadium here this year, especially with the quality they have in their squad. because they have some really talented boys.
Congratulations to our guys because I think we showed today that we are coming of age.
I calculated that your defense had an average age of 20.5 years. James (Connolly) made a mistake on goal, but recovered well. Are you satisfied with the defense?
We limited them to, I think, three shots. It is a fluid, offensive and expansive team. They really want to be on the front foot and I think once they scored their goal it got a bit of a bump in the game.
They had a few corners and we told the lads in advance that the pitch was a bit busy so if you’re in any doubt don’t take the risk but we also want to play and pass the ball so I’m I I’m never going to pick on guys for trying to play, and that’s what James did there.
Thanks to their boy, I thought it was a really good finish from Simpson to beat Belly. You’ve seen since last week that it takes some quality and their boy produced it.
But the answer to that, for me, was the key. We didn’t panic, we didn’t doubt ourselves, we just kept passing the ball following the game plan and rightfully got back to it.
I’m a little disappointed and the guys are there, and that’s a good thing. We have young players disappointed that they didn’t win the game because they felt so dominant.
We’ve more than matched them and, as you rightly point out, a 19-year-old at right-back, 20 at centre-back, and then Josh Grant’s wise former header at 23 at the ‘back left. There was this kid running across the side.
I thought Ryan Loft was exceptional on the front line. He showed why we brought him in and that dimension he can give us, then Finley, Evans and Coutts, and Gladwin, Williams and Reed because a combination has to be up there in the division has to be up there because they really do contain some quality in these guys.
Great football match for Ligue 2, a good local derby. Disappointed we didn’t win it, but thanks to all the fans for participating. It was the Gasheads who followed us faithfully and I’m glad we put in a better performance for them and the best is yet to come from this team.
Who scored your equalizer?
They’re debating it in the locker room there, I’m not in the middle of it. Two fiery characters in Connor Taylor and Sam Finley.
For me, I think it went straight in. Connor claims it definitely hit the back of his head. At 6-foot-6, I’m not going to argue with him.
Wasn’t it nice to bring Leon Clarke in, even if it was just for the last few minutes? Is he back sooner than expected?
Yeah. When he came down to Hartlepool we thought maybe he should hang up the boots. Credit it to him though. It shows what kind of character he is and how professional he is not only at recovering, but also at recovering quickly.
He worked hard. Bonus putting him on the bench today. Lofty obviously left with a few stitches. I wanted to put them together even though I just felt we had to be reasonable in the last half of the game. While we want to win and move on, we take the point from here certainly on the back end of the season so far. I think that will be a good point when the table is counted in May.
What stopped Alfie Kilgour and Cian Harries from making the team today?
Alf had a small reaction to his knee. He had a bit of swelling and we have to be careful because he’s had a few in the past and he’s just come back from an injury. Cian was going to be left out tactically anyway because we went from a three to a four and then he also woke up with a stiff neck.
Credit him though he traveled with the guys. Like I said, we have over 11 good players and I think the guys showed that today. I had a weird feeling these last 10 days, everything just went up, the level of training, the modus operandi of each person.
We are about to build something special here and with these fans behind us traveling in droves, great times are ahead of us for Gasheads.
Joey, coming back to the game in October, they were able to play with a lot of control, it was really their game, their rhythm. They didn’t have a beat today, how did you get them out of that beat?
We were obviously disappointed with the way we played in the home game. We had a completely different team that was still finding its way. There was anxiety in the stadium. People didn’t know if they were coming or going and it was tough, it was a really tough time.
Ben (Garner) comes back and it added a bit of spice. I found the day they were superb. As poor as we were that day, I don’t think they got credit for the quality of their play.
We talked about it in the preparation, we were disappointed. It was as if someone came into our playground and overtook us. We said we’re going to come here today and take the ball from them in their playground and we’re going to beat them.
Bar get the winner, this second goal. I thought that in every department we were better than them.
This high pressure that you have is really effective right now. Antony Evans characterized this; he may not have created as much on the ball as he would have liked but he gave you so many chances by stealing the ball high up the pitch….
Yeah, and there will be times of harem scare sometimes. We’re going to provide man-to-man coverage and that’s thanks to the belief that we have that our players are individual machines, anyone can race.
You consider Paul Coutts the oldest citizen, but Couttsy’s numbers are there every week and you also consider his quality and leadership qualities.
We want to be at the forefront. I don’t want to sit on the sideline and watch the 4-5-1 sitting behind the ball, waiting to counter and return it for throw-ins. I have better things to do with my Saturdays and Tuesdays.
I want to see a front-foot team playing the right way. Sometimes we can take risks at the back, but for us it’s about creating, in the modern era, an attacking, exciting, young and dynamic team.
I think the city needs it. Certainly the blue half of the city has been craving it for as long as I can go back in the history books and we intend to do everything we can, together with a superb owner, to deliver the best version of Bristol Rovers. that people will have seen in a moment.
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Talk about a coming of age performance, Connor Taylor has been very good for a long time. We’re going to focus on Luca Hoole who is obviously a homegrown player, he really stood up today and he’s pleading to be in your best XI, right?
Yeah, we changed to a rear three last time. We thought we were going to have more ball against Hartlepool in our stadium with a slightly wider pitch. In the game, we didn’t get the platforms we wanted and we want to develop hungry young players.
When I arrived, too many of our talents were recruited, mainly by Aston Villa. Sometimes you can’t refuse the money and be on your way to the child.
But we have to be a shining light for Bristol youngsters to say that if you want to be a player and push yourself, you can grow and get into our first team and Hooley is just one of them.
We have good prospects behind this. We are getting closer with the academy now. We again have some development work going on to try and restore the links.
As I say now the clowns have left the club, that’s what they used to be, professional men can do professional jobs and we can start moving the chains to give Wael the football club his mandates investment and these fans for their loyal and fanatical support, a team they can be proud of.
Although today I’m disappointed that we didn’t win the game, I’m also very happy with many aspects of the performance. The Gases are coming.
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