Barnsley Head Coach Paul Heckingbottom spoke to the media after his team we’re beaten 2-0 against Fulham at Craven Cottage.The Reds gave a good account of themselves against an in-form Fulham side, however Hecky conceded that the hosts deserved to win over the 90 minutes.
“I thought we were second best. I thought Fulham were really good and I was really disappointed in how we started the first 15 minutes. We kept turning over possession and giving them the ball straight back and you don’t want to do that against this side. They had five shots on our goal in the first fifteen minutes which was disappointing and then arguably our best spell was between then and half time, where although they had a lot of the ball we were much more comfortable behind the ball, we pinched it in good areas and broke them a few times on the counter attack which is what we wanted to do. So the killer blow was the penalty just before half time.”
With the Reds holding their own well in the first half, it took a controversial penalty decision for the hosts to open the scoring after Angus MacDonald was adjudged to have fouled Fulham’s Kevin McDonald. The Head Coach has watched a replay of the incident and admits it appears to be a harsh decision.
“I’ve watched it back so I was wondering whether it was going to be any different to what I saw (during the game) and it’s not really. There is a hand on McDonald but he’s gone down and won the penalty. So yeah it’s soft but then again from the point of view of us learning from it, when you know the referee’s attention is on you because of tussles and there could have been free kicks either way, you’ve got to be even more carful that you’re not going to give him a decision to make. But yeah you watch it back and it is soft.”
With the Reds enjoying their best spell of the game in the build up to half time, the dubious penalty in first half injury time was a sucker punch and Heckingbottom admitted that it was always going to be a tough task once Fulham went ahead.
“It didn’t change the team talk. But if there’s one team you don’t want to be playing against when you’re behind, it’s Fulham because they just dominate the ball and pull you about. So we were always going to make positive substitutions later in the game, but it’s difficult when you’re 2-0 down. If it had been 1-0 you can still put the frighteners on them a bit and have chances on the breakaway like we did towards the end – but when you’re behind against Fulham it’s really difficult.”
The Reds should have had a penalty of their own after Adam Armstrong was bundled over by Kalas late on in the game. It was a decision which could have dragged the Reds back into the contest and Hecky thought it was more of a penalty that the first half decision that went against his side.
“I’ve not seen Adam’s (penalty appeal on replay) but the lads are saying in there, the ones that watched it back, that is looks more of a penalty than Fulham’s penalty. So you get some sometimes and others you don’t.”
Before leaving the capital, Hecky had special praise for the 1,830 Barnsley fans who travelled to Craven Cottage and provided magnificent backing throughout.
“I didn’t know what we were expecting and how many fans bought tickets. Coming out before kick-off I couldn’t believe the noise they made throughout the game as well. They’re enjoying the ride and they know that today the lads gave everything and worked their socks off. We were second best today but we carry on going until the very end and the fans appreciate that.”
With an FA Cup Third Round Replay coming up against Blackpool on Tuesday night, the Head Coach is looking forward to the game and sees it as an opportunity for his players to stake a claim in the side.
“You want games. Again, people have got opportunities to come and play and if they play well you’re straight back in the thinking and they can keep their place. So yeah it’s good and especially the FA Cup, so hopefully we can put in a real good performance and give ourselves a chance to progress.”
Watch the full video of Paul Heckingbottom’s interview now on Barnsley Player HD!