Gannon’s pride in County show
COUNTY boss Jim Gannon reflected on a “proud day” as his Hatters side bowed out of the FA Cup in a 1-0 defeat at National League side Barnet at the Hive Stadium on Sunday.
Backed by an incredible County following of over 1,600 travelling supporters, County narrowly missed out on a third round berth thanks to Dan Sparkes’ seventh minute header – but Gannon expressed his “great pride” at The Hatters’ FA Cup journey, before challenging his side to kick on in the National League North play-off race.
“It’s one of those days where you have a multitude of emotions,” he said.
“I’m so proud to see that immense turnout of fans, and so proud to see the effort and purpose of our players.
“I’m extremely disappointed for everyone that we weren’t able to provide a moment or a goal where everyone could jump about and celebrate, and that we didn’t get a goal or a result that perhaps the effort of the lads deserved.”
With the BBC on hand providing national coverage of the all non-league affair, the spotlight was firmly on the boisterous County faithful, who made up well over half of the total gate at The Hive – an official Barnet record attendance in cup football.
Despite the early goal, the TV cameras focussed much of their reportage on the noise from the travelling fans, and Gannon – who was met with a huge ovation alongside his players as The Hatters both entered and exited the field – was quick to praise the “loyal” fanbase.
“I’m just proud of the club and proud of the fans. There’s big disappointment that we didn’t get something for those fans that travelled down.”
“The national media are surprised at our support, but none of us are. I’m so disappointed for them, but they made it like a home game for us.”
“I’m sure they’ll have the same emotions of disappointment that we all have, but they’ve been brilliant. Whether it’s been Maidenhead away, Yeovil away or midweek games, the fans have been loyal and always turned out in force and it makes me really proud.”
Despite a sustained spell of pressure and possession after the interval, County only had one shot on target, with striker Frank Mulhern also going close after following in a spilled Elliot Osborne effort and bundling it wide of Mark Cousins’ goal.
And Gannon, who threw on attackers Nyal Bell, Connor Dimaio and Matty Warburton as The Hatters sought a route back into the tie, admitted that his side had failed to test the opposition goalkeeper as much as they could have done.
“I lament a little bit the lack of connection between the front players in the first half and the lack of quality on set-plays which meant we weren’t really able to get the ball into a good area and produce that clear cut chance.”
“But we certainly asked a lot of questions of their back four, and I think the possession in their territory and the effort deserved more than to not find a goal.”
“It’s a disappointing day but it shows what we can do and what we’re capable of. We want to be where Barnet are in the near future and looking to kick on from that league too.”
●●Darren Stephenson looks to keep the pressure on Barnet during the weekend’s FA Cup clash