Gravesend & Northfleet 1 Hereford United 2 - Daish: We must handle the pressure

Tuesday 07th March 2006

Jimmy Jackson 33

Robbie King 75
Andy Williams 80

Stephen McCartney reports from Stonebridge Road
Nationwide Conference

Gravesend & Northfleet boss Liam Daish has called upon his side to handle the pressure and win games whilst in good positions.

Jimmy Jackson’s fourth goal of the season, two minutes after their second placed visitors Hereford United were reduced to ten-men, gave the Kent side a stranglehold, but two late goals left Daish devastated.

Hereford’s Daryl Taylor was shown a straight red card after 31 minutes for a studs showing lunge on Fleet midfielder Bradley Johnson and they were made to pay when Jackson headed home Danny Slatter's cross from the right, via the foot of the right upright.

But the visitors “upped the ante” according to the Fleet boss, and hit back after 75 minutes when debutant Robbie King’s right-footed volley from 22-yards flew into the top right hand corner and Andy Williams produced some magic five minutes later to score his eleventh goal of the season.

The youngster used his skill to go past two Fleet defenders on the right hand side before bursting into the area and drilling a shot past Craig Holloway to stun the Fleet’s lowest crowd of the season.

Despondent Daish admitted his side were “frightened” holding onto the lead against ten-men.

“Very disappointed. Great position to be 1-0 up against ten men but the way we are (we’re a) little bit frightened being in that situation,” he said. “We made some strange decisions and a little bit irresponsible in the end.

“I just didn’t think we were brave enough,” Daish, whose side could have climbed to ninth place had they won, added. “Being brave isn’t all about tackling and throwing heads and feet into positions, it’s also being strong and brave on the ball, taking that extra pass, trusting your ability and your team mates ability - we didn’t do that.

“I mean first half we deserved a bit of luck and we deserved to go ahead. But it’s like we were embarrassed of being ahead. It seemed that way and again (we) don’t know how to win a game of football in that position.”

Daish’s miserable night saw both his central defenders, Ross Graham-Smith (ankle) and Paul McCarthy (back) come off injured during the second half, but he’s not making any excuses.

But he did offer this advice to his young players: “It’s all about mental and you win games of football by more simple things in the game - communication and strength of mind and we have to get that into us.

“I know we’re young, I can’t make that excuse, and I’m not making that excuse anymore. We’re in a great position.

“If someone offered us to be 1-0 up with them with ten men at half time I would have grabbed it,” he added.

“We should go out second half enjoying that but I thought we froze, panicked a little bit like we have done when teams have upped the ante to us.”

Speaking about losing two of his key central defenders, Daish said: “They’re big players for us and we had to adjust but I don’t think that’s where we lost the game.

“I’m not making excuses for that. I think we lost the game because we’re irresponsible when we had the ball and we weren’t brave enough when we had it.”

Daish will be rallying his troops for their trip to York City on Saturday. “They have got to lift themselves, team mates have got to lift each other and I’ve got to try and lift them,” he said.

“I’ll like them to try and lift me after that. We’ll probably go to York and put on a great performance because the pressure’s not on us. The pressure will be on York.

“Tonight we looked good up until half-time because there wasn’t any pressure on us at that stage.

“When the pressure was there, with us 1-0 up against ten-men, there were questions asked about us - at the moment we’re struggling to deal with that.”

The same thing happened against Crawley Town in their last home match seven days ago, when the Sussex side came away with a point with one less player on the pitch courtesy of a late leveller.

“It’s exactly the same against Crawley,” he bemoaned.  “They’ve got to learn how to win a game of football and that means being more responsible with the ball, being braver and staying calm.

“It’s close to saying 1-0 up, against ten-men and then bottling it and freezing”

Gravesend & Northfleet: Craig Holloway, Paul McCarthy (Ashley Fuller 65), Robert Watkins, Ross Graham-Smith (James Smith 57), Steve McKimm, Bradley Johnson, Jimmy Jackson (Onome Sodje 84), Luke Moore, Danny Slatter, Mark Rawle, Scott Gooding.
Subs: Aaron Kerr, Jay Saunders.

Hereford United: Wayne Brown, Ryan Green, Tamika Mkandawire, Stuart Fleetwood, Andy Farrell, Craig Stanley, Andy Williams, Rob Purdie, Daryl Taylor, Robbie King, Dean Beckwith.
Subs: Craig Mawson, Tony James, Sam Gwynne, Danny Carey-Bertram, Matthew Halliday

Attendance: 618
Referee: Mr F Graham
Assistants: M C Henry & Mr C Lymer
Fourth Official: Mr C Miller