Hughes salutes Pools effort

BY foxsports • April 14, 2013

Millwall boss Kenny Jackett believes his players performed admirably in the 2-0 defeat to Wigan in the FA Cup semi-final.

The Lions battled gamely at Wembley and in the match until Callum McManaman added to Shaun Maloney's first-half goal 12 minutes from time.

Jackett feels Wigan possessed some extra quality though and admits he was impressed by the contribution of Arouna Kone in midfield.

"I felt Wigan were good," Jackett said. "We had a very good 20-minute spell in the second half and had them on the back foot.

Their keeper made some good saves but we needed a goal during that period to build on. It didn't happen, they scored another on the break and that killed the game off.

"But we put in a sterling effort. Kone was excellent, though. He was something else and really brought their midfield into it and helped them score an excellent first goal."

The Millwall boss insists his charges must put the disappointment behind them as he prepares them for a Championship survival battle.

Jackett added: "That's the most important thing now. We would have loved to have gone one further but realistically we have to be proud of what the players have done to get this far.

"Now we have six games left before the end of the season and two in hand on almost everybody around us so we need to get some wins."

The visitors had to win or they would be relegated, and they did so through Neil Austin's 10th-minute goal.

Tranmere's temperatures were raised when referee Lee Collins pointed to the penalty spot after ruling that Ben Gibson had held Sam Collins in the box.

Rovers fans thought justice had been done when Owain Fon Williams kept out Simon Walton's penalty but Austin pounced to slide home the rebound.

The hosts were awarded a penalty of their own 12 minutes after the break but Scott Flinders superbly tipped Andy Robinson's spot-kick onto the crossbar after Peter Hartley was judged to have fouled Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro.

Moore feels his team is a shadow of the one he had during the first half of the season.

"There is no doubt it is disappointing," said Moore after a fourth straight 1-0 loss. "The penalty given to Hartlepool was a ridiculous decision. But we were asleep on the edge of the box when the ball came back out and they have stuck away the rebound.

"Our penalty came at the right time but the save just about summed up our last two months. On an attacking front we were poor. We had a lot of possession but we didn't show enough quality because we should have put them to the sword.

"It was a massive game but we didn't have the guile to break Hartlepool down. At the start of the season we were almost unplayable but at the moment I don't know where our next goal is coming from. We are a wreck as a team right now compared to the fluency we showed earlier in the season.

"Someone has to light the blue touch paper because we didn't test Hartlepool enough. We went out of the game with a whimper and it has to mean more to the players. It hurts. I am angry because I can see what we have thrown away. We are playing like we are a bottom-four team."

Former Port Vale striker Billy Paynter's double completed a quick-fire comeback for Doncaster, who stay two points ahead at top of the table.

Max Clayton had fired Crewe ahead, but Paynter came off the bench and netted twice in four minutes to ensure Rovers stayed in pole position.

Oliver Turton blew a late chance to earn the Alex a draw they arguably deserved as Crewe suffered their second defeat in a week since lifting the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

Flynn said: "Once again we have bounced back from defeat and it could prove a pivotal result.

"It was probably our least effective performance for about three months.

"The second half was littered with mistakes, but what we showed was desire and a willingness to get back into the game and that has become a characteristic of this team.

"Billy was excellent, always gets chances and he took them with aplomb. We have five strikers vying for the same position so you want to make an impact when you get your chance and that is exactly what he's done.

"We are excited now, but we can't ask favours from anyone else. If we take maximum points from the last few games we get promoted."

Austin's goal after 10 minutes was enough for victory in a game Hartlepool simply had to win to avoid the drop.

Hughes still faces mission impossible to keep Pools up but he described his players as '11 heroes' after they hung on at play-off chasing Tranmere.

"It was a great win in terms of effort and commitment," said Hughes. "It was a rearguard action but the penalty gave us something to hang onto and we certainly did that.

"There were 11 heroes on the pitch, plus the substitutes, and we were just happy to see the ball hit the back of the net.

"We showed plenty of desire and that's what it is all about. We gave up a lot of territory and tried to hit them on the counter attack but there is more than one way to win a football match.

"There was plenty of pride evident in our performance and it was such a crucial game. We showed courage and we had to want it more - it was critical. We hung on in there and all credit to the boys.

"We can play better football but it was a must-win cup final if you like and the players certainly came up with the goods."

Owain Fon Williams kept out Simon Walton's penalty but Austin pounced to slide home the rebound.

Tranmere were awarded a penalty of their own 12 minutes after the break but Scott Flinders superbly tipped Andy Robinson's spot-kick onto the crossbar after Peter Hartley was judged to have fouled Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro.


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