Paulton boss accentuates the positives after double home setback
Paulton Rovers boss Nick Bunyard saw his battling players lose to the league’s top two this week – but has urged them to take the positives into another home double header.
After a 2-0 defeat to table-topping Hungerford Town on Saturday, Rovers looked set to hold second-placed Poole Town to a draw on Tuesday, despite playing the entire second half with only ten men following Stuart Tovey’s dismissal.
Those hopes were dashed by a rare goalkeeping mistake by Kyle Phillips in injury-time but Bunyard believes his side should remain upbeat going into the home games against North Leigh on Saturday (3pm) and Abingdon United on Tuesday (7.30pm).
“We’ve had two tough games against the two top teams in the league and we have to respond in the right way,” he said.
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“North Leigh are a good side but we held them to a 0-0 draw earlier in the season when they were in the play-offs. I think we are capable of taking something from that game and Tuesday is also winnable, which would set things up nicely for the following weekend’s trip to Yate Town.
“Looking back on the last week, I don’t think we played well enough to deserve something from the Hungerford game. We had our chances and missed a penalty but didn’t really do enough.
“It was a different case on Tuesday. We were down to ten men against the likely champions but had them hanging on desperately. To lose to such a freak goal was a bitter pill to swallow and Kyle should have done better but he has saved us on many occasions in the past.”
Bunyard’s frustrations were compounded by the performances of the match officials, who sent Tovey off for violent conduct during a melee following an incident which left Scott Brice needing medical treatment after an alleged elbow to the face.
“I am always reluctant to criticise officials but there were times in the second half where it felt like it was ten against 14 players,” said the Rovers boss.
“They got a lot of decisions wrong in the second half and that was universally acknowledged by Poole’s management and supporters as well.
“I don’t disagree with Stuart’s red card but one of their players should have had a second yellow card 30 seconds before after a blatant elbow while already on a booking.
“Scott’s got a nasty welt on his cheek and had to go to the doctors after the game, so he won’t be playing on Saturday but there shouldn’t be any lasting damage.”
Rovers were 1-0 down at the time after failing to clear a corner from the left and allowing Warren Bryerly to force home a scrappy 30th-minute opener.
But the hosts responded superbly to their double setback and dominated the second half, with Brandon Barnes’ superb 75th-minute volley looking to have earned them a deserved point.
However, with time running out, the usually reliable Phillips misjudged Luke Burbage’s cross from wide on the right and could only watch as it looped over him before dropping into the far corner of the net.