SHIRTLIFF AND PENNEY REACTION
Audio interview with Peter Shirtliff from Radio Nottingham (file is 0.6 Mb). Clip here
Shirtliff happier, despite defeat
PETER Shirtliff was a much happier manager today, despite seeing a late wonder goal from Martin Smith knock his young Mansfield Town side out of the JPT Trophy Northern quarter-finals at Darlington last night.
Shirtliff had been furious over his side's performance in defeat at Rochdale three days earlier, but after last night's 1-0 loss said: "I will take that defeat.
"It was an unbelievable strike for their goal. Their first shot was heading for the pieman but it rebounded to Smith and he took one touch and then just hit it on the half volley into the top corner from 30 yards.
"Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up - it was a terrific strike.
"I was pleased with the players. They showed effort and commitment. But the ball didn't break for us in the box.
"It wasn't easy playing on a gluepot of a pitch. But they all gave me 100 per cent.
"I told them at half time they had made more tackles in the first 45 minutes than they did in the whole 90 minutes at Rochdale.
"You can't not compete. But we've done that tonight.
"Our young players came in and did well, Nathan Arnold will have learned some more from that. And Rory Boulding came on, looked strong and fit and had a bit of pace. A bit more experience and he could be a force.
"But experience was the word tonight and Darlington just edged it on experience."
He aded: "It was nice to see Simon Brown start a game. He looked sharp and was getting in behind defenders.
"Several players have pushed themselves into my forethoughts for Saturday. I have decisions to make and it is a nice problem.
"To be honest we have not had too many performances as iffy as that at Rochdale on Saturday. Now I am hoping the penny has dropped and we can get back to what we were doing."
STAGS GET PRAISE BUT CRASH OUT
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12:00 - 29 November 2006
Peter Shirtliff praised Mansfield's response to Saturday's defeat at Rochdale, despite their Johnstone's Paints Trophy exit at Darlington.
The Stags were beaten 1-0 at the 96.6TFM Darlington Arena as substitute Martin Smith netted the only goal of the game with 15 minutes left.
But Shirtliff, who had some harsh words for his players after a dreadful performance at the weekend, was well satisfied.
"I will take that. The players showed the effort and commitment that I was looking for," he said.
"If the players give me 100 per cent and have a go then I will have no complaints.
"We have competed and that's the important thing. Some days we will win if we keep that up but it wasn't our day today."
Shirtliff was pleased with the contribution of some of his youngsters.
"Nathan Arnold did well and he will learn from that," said Shirtliff. "It is nice to see Rory Boulding coming on too."
Darlington progressed to the Northern section semi finals of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy with a 1–0 win over Mansfield Town. Quakers made a number of changes for the game with manager Dave Penney well aware of the fixtures ahead. In the end Darlington had to call upon Martin Smith.
The substitute came off the bench to hit a brilliant shot which arrowed into the top corner and fired Darlington into the later stages of a competition Quakers have had little luck in prior to this season. Smith is making a habit of scoring from great strikes and speaking after the game Penney had nothing but praise for the goal.
"It was fantastic," he enthused. "He scored a great goal in the FA Cup against Lewes late on. It is just that little bit of quality he has got. Even when he came on his passing just gave us that little bit of extra quality and it was a great goal to win the game."
Overall the game was very evenly matched with the changes Darlington made clearly affecting the rhythm they have showed in recent games. In the end defences were on top for the majority of the game. Penney admitted some of this was down to the players who stepped in not being fully used to the pace he wants to play.
"We tried to rest some people and we had five fresh legs in there but those that came in didn't really get to the tempo of the game we want to play at. It wasn't until we fetched the three substitutes on that it lifted the tempo. The likes of Wainwright and Cummins are used to playing at that tempo," said Penney. "The other couldn't quite get to it and that is the reason we didn't play as well. We battled away though and a win is a win."
Darlington face an FA Cup tie at the weekend against Swansea City and then the following Tuesday travel to Wycombe Wanderers for a league game. With the Christmas schedule looming ever closer the number of fixtures will only increase.
Penney admitted that having played with ten men for a large part of the game the previous weekend he was aware of the need to give players a rest. He admitted however it didn't quite work and with the benefit of hindsight conceded sticking with the same team may have been the way to go.
"They had played so long with ten men (against MK Dons) so there was that but I'm not sure if it worked," admitted Penney. "We probably should have gone with the same team. They were the brighter ones who are used to playing at that tempo. Those who came in couldn't quite get to it but they have got ninety–minutes under their belts now some of them so that will help."
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