First team manager Danny Grainger felt ‘mixed emotions’ after the comeback victory over hometown club Penrith on Tuesday night.
Reds struggled to get going in the first half and went into the break trailing thanks to a Martyn Coleman goal for the Frenchfield Park side.
We were nowhere near it during the first half,” said Grainger. “We were being sloppy in the way we pressed, sloppy in the way we played and not dealing with Penrith’s threat at all so I was disappointed with the first-half performance.
They were told that at half-time and the reaction in the second half was exactly what we expected.
We moved the ball quicker, pressed the ball into small areas and, eventually, got the rewards.
Penrith were well-disciplined in the first half and the manager admitted they frustrated Reds on numerous occasions.
The way we want to play, we’re trying to get the ball side to side to create openings for our gifted players in those areas.
I thought in the first half, we took too many touches in the middle of the park and invited Penrith to come and have a nick at us, and to be fair, they were good with it.
They pressed us well and we couldn’t get out at times so that was the frustration for us; to go from the highs of Saturday to that first 45 minutes was really disappointing.
At the interval, Grainger revealed that he had a ‘hard’ time addressing the players.
It’s hard because, even though it’s pre-season, we’ve still got to keep the demands and standards high – no matter if it’s a title decider, promotion decider or a training session.
To go from the 90 minutes against Barrow, matching a full-time team a few divisions above toe-to-toe, to that first half tonight, we can’t have those standards of going from one end of the scale to another in the space of four days.
On the goal, the new manager stated that the team were once again ‘looking at themselves’ for the breach in the back line.
The mistakes we’re making are all sort of down to us, and that means we can rectify things. Team aren’t cutting us open or anything like that.
Reds managed to turn the screw in the second half as Penrith weaned and Grainger was pleased with the change in approach.
“In the second half we moved the ball quicker, we created openings and I think we thoroughly deserved getting the two goals as well.”
Regarding the reasoning behind the lapse in quality compared to the weekend, the manager was left pondering whether it was ‘complacency or over-exuberance.’
Whichever way you look at it, the lads haven’t started well, and I said to the in the warm-up it wasn’t tidy enough. So, it’s just tidying things up and ironising out those creases.”
Dav Symington made it six goals in four friendlies with two late thunder strikes to rescue Reds, and his boss – who briefly played with him at Carlisle United – discussed the pre-season hot shot’s ability.
I’ve said to Dav in the changing rooms, this season he’s gonna drive me crazy. At times he was sloppy but then he came up with two bits of magic, and hits the bar from 40 yards.
The Cumbrians youth product has regained his mojo as of late, encouraging Grainger that his former teammate will have a successful season at Borough Park.
Dav’s a talent. I told him when we were at Carlisle that I don’t he believes in himself enough; and sometimes in the wrong areas, believes in himself too much.
I’ve told him I him to believe in himself, to express himself and show what he can to do.
A long-term injury is hard to come back from, especially when there’s expectation on your shoulders.
I know for a fact he’s worked hard over the summer, and he’s getting his just rewards now and I’m sure he’s gonna score a lot of goals this season and earn us valuable points.
On the team as a whole, Grainger rendered the first-half performance as ‘lacklustre’ but wasn’t convinced any individual displays that were particularly poor.
There weren’t many bad performances. I thought it was more of a just a lacklustre performance in the first half.
The reaction we got in the second half was what we needed and wanted. I’m delighted at how we finished the game.
There’s a clean bill of Reds health ahead of the trip to Durham to face Consett at the Belle View Stadium on Saturday, meaning competition in the squad is heating up.
None more so than between the sticks, where Jim Atkinson (who played the majority of the game) and Alex Mitchell both battling it out for the number one spot.
I was really pleased with Jim tonight. I thought he came and commanded his box which is what I want off both him and Alex which is why I’ve got them both. I want competition for places.
Kick-off at Consett on Saturday is 3pm as Grainger looks to earn his fourth friendly win out of five trips.