MATCH REACTION: KEVIN HILL ON NEWTON ABBOT SHOOTOUT WIN
Exmouth Town manager Kevin Hill was happy with his side’s resilience as they fought back from 3-1 down to advance to the next round of the ST Luke’s Bowl by beating Newton Abbot Spurs.
A tough first half saw Town go into the break down by two goals, but a late Jordan Harris brace saw them go into a penalty shootout, where Ben Steer scored the winning penalty to win the shootout 4-3.
Speaking shortly after the game, Hill said, “I made a few changes, and I’ll give credit to Newton Abbot, over the 90 minutes they were the better side.
But what I liked about the second half, and while it wasn’t great or it wasn’t pretty, we somehow got over the line, we won the second half 2-0.
We did the simple things that we are good at, what we have done over the last three/four years, put the balls in areas, I think we’ve come to a team a few divisions lower and thought we could play around a bit, we weren’t tracking runners for their goals, but it’s part and parcel of it.
The lads have dug it out and got over the line and I think that will do us the world of good. It wasn’t the best performance but when it looks like your down and out, but you come in with a win, I’ve been there in my career and those little things like Jordan (Harris) coming off the bench and scoring two goals, that gives him a lift, then he scores a penalty, all of that gives us a lift.
They will be gutted to lose it like that, but I know these little things make a difference, so when we look down and out in other games, you’ve just got to keep going.
I thought their passing and their movement was really good, it was how I wanted us to play if I’m being honest.
I think we turned up a bit lethargic, they were sharp, we weren’t getting tight to people, they were passing along the back, we were ambling out there, their wingers were facing our full-backs up, they weren’t getting tight, but it was happening all over the pitch.
They were picking second balls up, not going full force into tackles but that might be down to me, we’ve got a few missing on Saturday so in the back of your mind you can’t help but think about that.
But at the end of the day, the job is done.”
Those two goals from Jordan Harris saw him hit the 100 and 101 goal mark for Town, and Hill reflected on his striker’s time at the club as well as his performance against Newton Abbot.
“He’s been brilliant, he’s always been 25-30 goals a season, and yes, he can be frustrating because if he worked harder he could be even better, but he showed tonight that he can finish, he’s come off the bench and still scored two goals in 25 minutes.
The first goal he scored was a brilliant ball over the top from Max (Gillard), then a brilliant touch and finish, but it was one of the first or second time we turned them tonight.
It was a great touch and finish from a tight angle, and suddenly it’s 3-2 and we’ve got a bit of hope, and they get a bit nervous, one more chance and we can level it up.
Then it’s the same again, the ball comes back from a throw in, Callum Shipton has lifted it into an area over their players into the box, Ben’s (Steer) gambled, and their defender has missed it, brought him down and it’s a penalty.”
The standout of the penalty shootout was 17-year-old Josh Bissett, who’s stutter-then-shoot penalty and general performance in the game impressed Hill.
“He was excellent when he came on, he actually played a part in one of the goals with some great little footwork and I don’t think he gave the ball away when he came on.
When I asked the lads ‘who wants a penalty’, it’s his first game with us and he put his hands up saying ‘I want one’, young lad, only 17-years-old and you saw his penalty, best of the lot, fair-play to him, he’s had the confidence to step up and do it.”
A win sees Exmouth advance to the next round of the ST Luke’s Bowl and Hill is looking to use these games as an opportunity for players to impress.
“It’s another game where I get to look at some of the players that aren’t getting a lot of regular minutes, and if I have one or two players on my radar that I’ve got signed on and I want to have a look at, then I will do.”