Bodmin Town boss Darren Gilbert says his players need to ‘stick together’ in the aftermath of Saturday’s soul destroying 2-1 defeat at Penryn Athletic, writes Tom Howe.
Their form at the back end of last season’s null and void South West Peninsula Premier West campaign, coupled with subsequent summer dealings in the player market, had many tipping Town as one of the teams to watch in 2021-22.
However, with form comes interest and a number of high profile departures to clubs further up the pyramid and injuries in key areas have decimated a Bodmin squad that numbered just 12 for their trip to Kernick at the weekend.
That total included Gilbert himself who, aged 50, dusted off the boots and played 85 minutes in the face of jeers and jibes from the home support who, following goals either side of the break from Kyle Cooke and Nick Boase (penalty), had three points to celebrate at full-time.
“It was tough,” admitted Gilbert. “To get abused for 85 minutes wasn’t ideal but I suppose that is what you have got to expect these days. I couldn’t ask for anything more [from my players]. They gave me everything. Stevie Colwell covered every blade of grass like he always does. It is tough for him because there are top teams sniffing around him but he is loyal.
“I thought Jordan Bentley and TC [Tom Chambers] were good but we are getting done by individual errors. Nothing seems to drop for us. We have hit the post, the crossbar and the goalkeeper has pulled off two worldies. We have got to dig deep and that is where I have got to come to the table, pull things together and pull people in.
“[I need to] get the team buzzing again. It is tough for all of them. They are all hurting, which is 100 per cent a good thing because I want them to hurt when we lose. We know there is going to be a lot of hard work and we are trying to bring people in as we speak.
“You can’t go to places with 11 players. I’m 50 years old, I shouldn’t be playing but I would never see my team down to ten. I had no choice but to play. I did what I thought was right for the team and Penryn thought they had the opportunity to slag me off and call me old, blah blah blah. Luckily my family and kids weren’t there.”
Bodmin enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and carved out enough opportunities to have taken something from the game. However, a mixture of the woodwork and excellent goalkeeping from Adam Robathan meant it wasn’t until 2-0 down that Dan Jennings broke their duck.
By then, with added time at the end of the second half looming, the damage had been done and, without any real impetus available from the bench, the visitors had exhausted their options against a Penryn side who managed the occasion well, defending stoutly and pushing Town’s stretched resources to the limit.
“I spoke to the boys and apologised for giving the penalty away and because we could have got a point out of it and maybe should have got three but that is by the by,” continued Gilbert. “They were all just pleased that I stepped in and helped out. They all know how tough it is. I am on the phone all the time and this isn’t something I am taking lightly.
“It is not a great position to be in when you have 13 players leave and have four major injuries. Another blow for us is that Lee Bevan is out for the season having done his ACL. That is another one to add to the list. That is a whole squad and to get 11 there on Saturday was a bonus. We are out in the market and trying to bring players in.
“We are trying to make the squad a bit stronger. Denham Guild is out suspended, Dan Magee hasn’t been with us for three or four months because he has been injured and Simmo [Steve Simmonds] has been injured. I could go on. I am not making excuses, I have to dig them out of it and all of the players are behind me.
“We have got to stick together as a group because, if we don’t, the wheels will come off. I have never been in this position before but we stick together. We win together, we draw together and we lose together. They all understand that we have to fight and keep believing. I know I have the character in the dressing room that means we can turn it around.”
[Featured image: Colin Bradbury / Cornwall Sports Media]