U20s boss Stephen Craigan credited his players hard work as they overcame Greenock Morton U20s 3-1 in the Scottish FA Youth Cup this afternoon.
A feisty encounter left resulted in two penalties for the Steelmen, two red cards and a number of controversial decisions from the referee.
But in the end, Craigan was happy to see his side secure a place in the quarter-finals.
Speaking to MFC TV after the match, he said: “We got through, and I said to the players after the game it’s not always going to be about free flowing football and having lots of possession, because there’s an art to defending and seeing games out – it usually includes hard work – so I felt the energy levels in the second half were good and the organisation of the team was good.
“The players make that work; they have to narrow up, they have track runs, they have to defend one-on-one because there can be long spells without the ball at times, but its all part of their learning curve.”
[pullquote]It’s not always going to be about free flowing football and having lots of possession, because there’s an art to defending and seeing games out – it usually includes hard work.[/pullquote]
He added: “Barry got sent off before the tenth minute so it was a long, long time – considering the referee played 54 minutes in the second half – to defend with ten men.
“Credit to the players for doing that, they showed the other side of the game which is very pleasing.”
David Turnbull bagged a hattrick including two strikes from the penalty spot, and his manager was pleased with his all round performance.
Craigan said: “ I’m really pleased for David. Dylan missed a penalty here against Dunfermline but got the rebound and then missed one against Hearts so David was the next guy up for the penalties and it takes a bit of bravery too once you’ve scored the first one to go up and take the second one.
“The third goal was sublime – it was a great strike. I wasn’t quite sure the defender covered himself in much glory by ducking but I don’t mind because we get 3-0 up at that stage.”
[pullquote] David was the next guy up for the penalties and it takes a bit of bravery too once you’ve scored the first one to go up and take the second one. The third goal was sublime – it was a great strike.[/pullquote]
Morton pulled one back with little over ten minutes to go, and the spirit of the ‘Well youngsters, especially when going down to nine men after Fry was shown a second yellow for time wasting, was something that pleased Craigan.
He said: “When it goes 3-1 you get wary, you think will they crack? Will they crumble? Do gaps appear? That’s when you need David Turnbull to get on the ball again, take that extra touch and make that extra pass and he did.
Ultimately, much of the match was overshadowed by controversy after both sides were on the receiving end of debatable decisions – but Craigan doesn’t want to dwell on the referee.
He said: “It was tough and I don’t want to stand and pan the referee because it’s a very difficulty job, but I just thought he didn’t really have the game under control.
“He’s a young guy trying to make his way in the game, our young players are trying to make their way in the game and I’m a young coach trying to make my way in the game somewhere along the line.
“But I know emotions run high, I think he was quite quick with his decisions, with the sending off and the penalties which I haven’t seen back to be fair but I think he was just a bit quick with the decisions in general.”