Are you disappointed not to have won that?
Yes, I think so. If we’d played another 10 minutes we’d have scored the goal because they were rocking at the end. It’s a filthy day and I was disappointed with the first half. It seemed to die down in the second half, but in the first half it was driving wind and rain and we weren’t particularly good. In the second half I thought we were excellent and one thing we didn’t do is work the goalkeeper enough. If you go on chances, we did enough to win the game, but the key is that if you can’t win the game, keep a clean sheet and a point and move on, keep the scoreboard turning. That’s eight clean sheets in 11 games this season and six in eight in the league so there were lots of positives in the end, but I am not sure I’d have said that at half-time. We wrestled the momentum back, but scrapping a little bit better. By scrapping a bit better we win the ball in better areas, which means we can start playing football. They came with a ‘full court press’ and we were a bit tentative, not doing one thing or the other, which we addressed at half-time. We were much better second half.
Disappointed not to take the chances you created in the second half?
Yes, clearly. They were good chances, not half chances Alfie (May) will be disappointed because two fell to him. He’ll probably be more disappointed with the one when he is clean through because he has not hit the target and that’s probably the most frustrating thing, but Alfie is Alfie and he lands on chances. He has come in and the two best chances have fallen to him. Reuben (Reid) didn’t quite get one to drop for him today and the way the game was going, I don’t believe we always have to have a big one and a small one on the pitch and we ended with three of them, which probably tells you how I felt the game was going, getting Alex (Addai) out wide with two bigger ones in the box. I felt all three subs made a positive impact.
Another clean sheet and once again Josh Griffiths hasn’t had to make a serious save
If he can walk off at the end of the season and keep the same ratio/percentage of saves and clean sheets, we’ll take that all day. He didn’t have a lot to do, but what he did, he did well. He tidied up well and was very assured and he one good kick to start a counter attack for Reuben, which had to be precise down wind and down hill on a wet pitch. The resilience within the team is good, not just goals, but we don’t give up many chances. The ones we gave away in the first half were our poor play when we were wide open and then they just chip it down the middle of the pitch, which is not the way we tell them to play.
The defensive record has been outstanding. In terms of teams you’ve played in and managed, is this the best defensively?
I am sure I played in better defences than this! They work hard for each other and you need a bit of luck too. Nicky Maynard had a chance near the end and he could have whacked it in, but the thing we look at the most is how many chances we give up and it’s not many. Even in the games when we’ve lost, it’s not like we’ve been opened up time and time again. There will be games when Josh has to keep us in a game, or win us a game, or nick us a point. The thing I love is, and I’ve just praised the whole team, is when you have Reuben chasing the centre half into the corner so it does start from front to back. It’s more the structure of the team. The back five do the back five bits, the detail in the defending I ask them to do, but generally it comes from the team shape as much as anything.
How is Matty Blair after coming off?
Gav (Crowe) was concerned because he felt his calf, so he came off. I’ve not spoken to him yet, but he’s a fit lad so I am not sure he’d be cramping up in the 55th minute. I thought Conor (Thomas) was excellent when he went out there, just gets on with it, calms us down in possession and is a little less hectic. The three subs all impacted the game in a positive way.
You had Ellis Chapman on the bench, how close is he to playing, fitness wise?
He might have to be match fit. He’s not though as he’s not played a match. We will need to get him fit on the job and get him minutes when we can. He’s been brought into the group, probably a bit quicker than we would have liked. But he’s a good player and hopefully he’ll do well for us.
Another Tuesday night game (Port Vale away). Would you have preferred to have a couple of free weeks?
Yes, we are getting to a point now of counting the bodies and you don’t have much time to do any work and we won’t do any analysis off the back of that because we have to focus on the next one. We will get in Monday, see who is fit, tired, has knocks and pick a team for Port Vale. They were as good as anyone we played last year, even though we drew both games, they were a really tough opponent.
Any further news on Elliot Bonds’ injury?
Yes, it’s quite a bad one and he’ll be out for the season. He’s done his ACL, among other things. He’ll have his appointment in Harrogate on Monday and then go back to Hull and they’ll look after him with their medics and physios.
He wasn’t at Cheltenham for long, but will he get a good review from you to Grant McCann?
Yes, I spoke to Grant three times last week, about something else and then that happened on Tuesday. We wanted Elliott in for the start of pre-season, but a few things happened and then he picked up a bit of a knock. He’s a lovely lad, he wants to learn and I’ve had a little bit of a chat with him because I’ve had a similar type of injury. It doesn’t need to define you. You can come back stronger and learn in this period. It’ll be tough for him mentally and it’s happened very early in his career so hopefully he’ll come back bigger, better, stronger, quicker.
How pleased have you been to see Jacob Greaves get his chance at Hull after doing so well here last season?
We want that because it builds on our reputation and we can build relationships with bigger clubs. The fact he’s come here for a year and got into their team and done well, that’s what we want. Young players coming here for a year’s development in terms of coaching and minutes and then go back as better players and that reflects well on us.
How far away is Finn Azaz?
I don’t know with Finn. It seems to be every couple of days, he’s gone from nearly starting two weeks ago to being in a boot today. That is precautionary, but I can’t get to the bottom of what it is. We want him back because he’s a good player, but there is so much going on, when we know he’s not available we just have to get on with it. It’s not that we don’t care about him obviously.
An area of the pitch with good options though?
Yes and that’s why you have a squad and it’s relentless this season, so people will come in, others will come out – loss of form, injuries and suspension, tweaks in formation. We believe we have good cover in most areas now.