Dale Gardiner rues STM Sports’ first half performance as they exit Welsh League Cup
STM Sports manager Dale Gardiner says that his side’s first half was the “worst performance” of the season after losing 3-2 to Penydarren BGC at home in the Welsh League Cup quarter final.
Three goals in the first 25 minutes from Josh Brogden, Alex Long and Sam Gamble sealed a third consecutive win over STM in cup competitions for the Valleys side, following victories in the 2017/18 FAW Trophy and League Cup.
Despite Chris Worsley and Beh Ah-Mun both netting in the second half to bring the Llanrumney side back into the game, Penydarren held on to leave Gardiner disappointed at his side’s start.
“To sum up our overall performance you can’t give a side of that quality a three-goal head start in the first 25 minutes of a game.”
“It’s almost an impossible task after that. We started too slow and got punished.” We seemed to get back to normal second half but by then it was just too late. It’s just the way it goes sometimes.
“I thought we were very unlucky with a lot of the decisions from the referee also. He was a long way off his best which was a shame. He’s overruled the linesman’s offside for their third goal.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a referee do that at this level, and it summed our day up really. Full credit to Pennydarren for taking the chances they had though.”
And he believes the game could have been totally different had STM Sports been more clinical early on, as they hit the woodwork with the score tied at 0-0.
“Of course any goal changes any game pattern, but it didn’t go in and we get punished at the other end. It’s not the first time it’s happened to us and it certainly won’t be the last. That’s football for you.
“Maybe you have to credit Penydarren in a way from stopping us playing and I wish them good luck for the next round.
“You learn from every defeat in my opinion. As a group I feel we learnt a lot in our half time team talk in terms of what we were doing wrong and what we can make better. Our 2nd half display definitely proved that.”
Next week the two clubs meet again in the FAW Trophy, and Gardiner hopes that his side’s second half performance can bring confidence in the forthcoming rematch.
“Hopefully! That’s of course the plan, to continue how we finished the game and maybe take one of our chances this time.
“Although that’s easier said than done. I believe the only positive we can take from the first half display is that we can’t possibly play any worse.
“It’s easily the worst performance I’ve seen from us in a half of football this season.”
Although they have bowed out of the league cup, STM Sports sit fifth in division two of the Welsh Football League, and remain in the title race with five games in hand over leaders Abergavenny Town.
“The league has obviously always been our priority, we’ve played ourselves into a very promising position so it’s a no brainer.
“That doesn’t take away the disappointment of today’s result as a cup run is always something we all enjoy. Who doesn’t want a cup final day out with a chance of a trophy?
“Our only option is to regroup and recover and take our positives into the next game. None of us are perfect and that’s all I can ask from this talented group of players.”
(Featured Image: Mike James)