Following Town’s early exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Tranmere Rovers, Billy Heath says he was “bitterly disappointed” with his side’s uncharacteristic performance, as the Shaymen succumbed to a 3-1 home defeat.
After Connor Jennings opened the scoring early on, Town pulled one back following good work from Ben Tomlinson after being sent through one-on-one.
From then on though, Tranmere controlled the tie. James Norwood put the travelling side back in the lead just before half time with his stunning effort, before local boy Liam Ridehalgh curled in a pin-point free kick to put the game to bed.
Understandably, the result left many disappointed, with the Shaymen failing to make the draw for the first-round proper. On reflection, Heath believes that his side never really got going.
“It was probably the poorest we have played all season, we only had fifteen minutes of the game before we scored the goal and we had a little period after that. It did not help that we lost Scott McManus because he was doing well in the left channel and was a good outward ball for us.
“It was only that fifteen minutes where we looked ourselves, put them under pressure or playing the way, we usually play. We are bitterly disappointed. You never want to lose a game of football no matter what manner it is in. It was a poor display”.
From a Town point of view, the main talking point was Adam Morgan’s penalty miss early on the first half. The forward did well to earn the spot-kick, although saw his effort saved by ‘keeper Scott Davies, with Heath saying that this did not affect the game.
“It is all if, buts and maybe’s. He did ever so well to get the penalty but he’s just missed it. The good thing for us was to get to 1-1 then it was game on. We had no intensity in our play today, the second half was the worst we have played all season. It was flat and damp, it should not be like that. We should be better than that”.
Going into the game, the Shaymen were without two of their key players in the form of Tom Denton and Matty Kosylo, both out through suspension. For Heath, the result was not a case of missing the big players, more so the performance of the squad.
“You are always going to miss good players but it is not an excuse. It was not about those coming in to replace Denton and Kosylo, the full team did not seem like themselves. The verve was not there, that is more concerning”.
As for Tranmere, they controlled the game well and looked comfortable when dealing with Town’s rare attacks in the second half.
Unfortunately, from our perspective, it will be Rovers who progress to the draw for the first-round proper on Monday night. In Heath’s opinion, it was the right outcome considering the performance from the home side.
“They did very well against another team that was poor today… When we did get going we put them under pressure and looked like we would cause them problems.
“I am disappointed (that we are out of the cup), and we have saved our worst performance of the season for it… They have got good footballers in their side, if you give them time and space with no real pressure then they will create chances.
“Like I said, the only time we got going and stopped them was a very short period of the ninety minutes”.
Head over to Shaymen TV to watch the full interview with Heath, along with more post-match reaction from Josh Wilde and Connor Oliver.
Read more posts by Ben Armitage