Gsffer's thoughts after FA Cup defeat at Highbury
It was heartache for Paul Hurst and his Town side as they exited the FA Cup to the hands of Fleetwood Town.
10-man Town, who had Adam El-Abd sent off, led 2-0 with half an hour to go, but two goals from Devante Cole and an injury time winner from Ashley Hunter sent The Cod Army through.
Town gaffer Paul Hurst was disappointed to exit the cup, but praised the players’ effort.
“I’m pleased in some ways, annoyed in others, but not the same annoyance I had last time we were here,” said Paul after the game.
“It’s a strange one because first half that’s the best that we’ve been since I’ve come. The lads were outstanding and if we can play anything like that we will be okay. That’s set the standard for me now.
“Second half we didn’t get through what we knew would be a response from Fleetwood, but after that, when you are down to 10-men, I think we defended pretty well.
"It looked a sending off. We knew there would be a reaction second half. They’d thrown Holloway on who was a bit of a handful and that was the period that we really need to try and get through.
“They had a lot of attacking players on the pitch and it’s always difficult with 10 men, sometimes you can see it through, today we obviously couldn’t.”
The Town boss made just one change, bringing Ian Black on for Jim O’Brien, and Hurst admitted that he had been contemplating changes in extra time, before the late heartbreak.
“I think the players had enough in their legs and the danger is that you are thinking about extra time,” said Paul.
“If it goes to extra time and you’ve brought a couple of lads on you worry whether the others will last. It was in the back of my mind to make an early substitution in that extra time period and then hold one back in case anyone really blows up.
“We tried going with a 4-3-2 initially, but they made the pitch wide so we tried to nullify that by going four across the middle as well. Overall I’m pleased with the lad’s efforts and I’m frustrated for them as well.”
Town had a shout for a penalty ignored moments before Fleetwood for their winner and Hurst admitted that he had seen them given, but wished Fleetwood well in the next round.
“I’ve seen them given,” Hurst said.
“Tones is clearly goal side of the defender, the defender is clearly in a bad position and he’s said he’s been clipped. The people who film the game have said they’ve seen them given.
“They’ve also seen a handball at the far post when Toney’s headed it back. I can’t see it from here, but there were claims instantly from players and the fans behind the goal and with the way the game is you hope you get one of those decisions.
“If you look over the course of the two games the better sides gone out of the competition, but that’s what has happened and good luck to Fleetwood at Bristol City.”