A second half penalty from Malky Morien gave Whitley three vital points in a hard fought 1-0 victory over Seaham Red Star. The game at Hillheads was a rather feisty encounter as both sides ended the contest with ten men. Speaking the morning after, Bay manager Nick Gray was clearly unhappy with some of decisions by the officials but felt that Cameron Brewis’s red card had galvanised his side with an improved performance when down to ten men.
“There wasn’t a lot in the game. It wasn’t a classic game but unfortunately the talking points weren’t about the game but more about the officials. I think they didn’t cover themselves in glory with their decisions for both sides.
“The first half I didn’t think we got the ball down even though it was a difficult pitch to play on, but there were times when we could have got the ball down but we didn’t help ourselves by not talking, communicating. Second half obviously we lost Cameron early doors which in my opinion I thought was harsh. I think the decision was probably made by 5 or 6 players getting in the linesman’s ear, but I think it galvanised us. After that I thought we worked hard for each other. Then we got a penalty.”
The penalty that decided the game followed discussions between the referee and his assistant.
“I don’t know from where I was standing but I think the linesman’s made the decision. If he knew it (the foul) was in the penalty box there couldn’t be any doubt about the decision. But Malky took a great penalty and we got our noses in front. There wasn’t a lot in the game. They had a good chance in the first half and another in the second half, but we had more possession. It wasn’t a classic but you’ll take them 1-0 wins and they’re the type of games when they’re not a classic and you’re down to ten men and keeping a clean sheet. That for me is more satisfying than playing pretty football when you’re four down.”
Late in the game Whitley had two good chances to settle the outcome. “Jackson’s had a good opportunity, he’s probably not had a lot of game time unfortunately, but he’s fought through and he’s hit the target. He just needs something to happen for him and it will come, he’s just got to be patient.”
For the second time this season, goalkeeper Dan Lister came off the bench to play an outfield role and almost grabbed a sensational goal. “Fair play to him, we had a lad who had to come off for cramp and we couldn’t fill the subs bench, and he’s come on. He’s been a bit unlucky. It was a great pass by Lewis and he’s been unlucky with that finish.
“We’ll definitely take a 1-0 win against a team who shouldn’t be in that position and won’t be there at the end of the season. They’re in a false position, they’re a good side. They’re tough, tough games against them so we’re delighted to get four points off them. We’ve been a bit lucky to get those four points but when you look over the season, your luck evens out.
“Thursday night games are not ideal for playing on a Saturday and we’ll see how we go tomorrow. (at Redcar) In this type of season when you’ve got three months left, you’re not going to play 100% fit. When I was a player 20 years ago you were playing Saturday, then in Sunday football, Tuesday, Thursday then Monday and Wednesday for your Saturday team. As a player you want to play not train. You’re not going to be 100% fit, you just go on adrenalin. It’s a mentality thing and a character thing in the second half of the season. Nothing gets won and lost in the first half of the season. It’s about finding ways to get results in the second half of the season. That’s what it’s about. It’s about grinding out results, and that typifies that group we had out there last night and with the group we’ve got. Do they play well every week? No they don’t, but they do give their all. They’re a learning group and we’ll take that result last night even though a draw was probably a fair result but we’ll certainly take the win!”
“Second half of the season it’s about who are the strongest group of people and they’re the teams that come out on top at the end of the season. They’re mentally tough, physically tough. We’re playing with no pressure, plenty of freedom and the lads are enjoying it. They’ve got to realise it’s not about playing well every game. It’s about looking at the result the next day and seeing that you won. That’s all that matters. We’re in a good place and it was a satisfying performance.”
Looking ahead to the weekend game at Redcar Athletic, Nick commented. “Tomorrow will be a challenge against a team who’ve signed a lot of new players. It’s on a good pitch which will help us but it’ll be a tough, tough game tomorrow. I’m not going to think about last night, it’s on to the next game about tomorrow. That’s what I’m thinking about now. They’ve won their last three games, and they’ve definitely picked up.”