Whitley’s first game in five weeks ended in a disappointing 2-1 defeat on the new all weather pitch at Penrith and after the game manager Nick Gray gave his thoughts on his team’s performance.
“Yes a very disappointing result, take nothing away from them (Penrith) they were the better side on the day. You can say we haven’t had a game for a while and we haven’t, however what you expect from that is that you might tire in the last 20 minutes of the game but we didn’t put enough energy in the first 70 minutes to say we were tired in the last 20 and maybe that’s why we scored in the end because we hadn’t worked hard enough earlier. It shouldn’t take half time conversations or 40 to 60 minutes into the game. We didn’t do enough to win the game, simple as that. We didn’t work the keeper. I think apart from Sparky’s header we had one shot in the second half by Jos Storr and that’s all we’ve done, but they took their chances. For the first goal we had a defender try to take someone on. I don’t understand why defenders try to take someone on in the final third. The second goal was a killer one. It came at a time when I thought we were having our best spell of the game. Goals change games and at 2-0 it’s always going to be a tough challenge, but I’m just disappointed. I’m disappointed for the people who travelled and I thank them for coming. I can accept getting beat but you can’t just turn it on like a tap, and today you can look for excuses, but you just can’t win games of football with what we put in today, and that’s the disappointing thing.”
Whitley started well but had nothing to show for it, as Nick agreed. “I think the first 10 - 15 minutes we looked great. The full backs joined in and we got in some good areas but when you get in these good areas you’ve got to make runs that commit defenders. You’ve got to want to score a goal. We’ve had a couple of half good deliveries in the box where we’ve got one player against their three defenders.
“It’s just a disappointing day because I feel we didn’t do enough. We’ve got 21 games left this season and we know what we need to do, we need to do things quickly, to get where you want to it doesn’t come easy. You’ve got to be prepared to have disappointing performances but you’ve still got to do the running off the ball and press the ball and want to make things happen. But overall I would say they were the best team on the day. They took their chances and I cannot argue with the result because we didn’t do enough to win it.”
Commenting on the brand new 3G pitch he added “It’s a lovely playing surface, we talked about that, and that it should suit us, but I said at half time, there was a bit of rustiness in our passing, some of our passing was going astray. We came today confident we could get a result but you can’t get results if you put in a performance like that. It’s just one of them days and we’ve got to learn quick because it’s three points lost today. We’ve got 21 games and 63 points still to play for and we’ve got a good enough squad to challenge at the top but you’ve got to do it on the pitch not on paper, not in the dressing room, not on training. The second half of the season is when good players come to the fore and I’m confident we’ve got good players here so they need to step up, nothing gets won or lost in the first half of the season, it’s in the second half.
“We’d got three or four players away for New Year but it’s a squad game so there are no excuses. We had a good enough team today in my opinion and Liam’s opinion to win the game and we didn’t do enough to win it, simple as that. We’ve got to learn from it and move on, but as I say I’d like to thank the people who came. It’s disappointing for everyone involved. We’ve got to turn it around in two or three days time. We’ve got two home games this week, we hope they’ll be on but we’ll just have to see, and we need to get maximum points.”