Robinson refuses to give up on play-offs despite Saturday’s defeat to Walton & Hersham and insists Town can sneak into top five
Hungerford Town boss Danny Robinson is refusing to give up on the play-offs despite Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at home to Walton & Hersham.
Nana Owusu’s stunning 84th minute free-kick was enough to separate the sides as the Crusaders, who only lost one home game in eight months between April last year and January, tasted defeat at Bulpit Lane for the second time in three matches.
However Robinson was upbeat despite seeing his side lose ground on their Southern Premier League South promotion rivals and insisted he was pleased with his side’s showing against one of the best teams in the league.
“I felt like we were very, very good,” he said.
“I thought we controlled large parts of the game, especially in the first half.
“We created some good opportunities but just didn’t take our chances.
“They’ve hit an absolute worldie of a free-kick that’s decided the game. You could strike the ball 100 times, I’m not sure he’d strike it like that again; I don’t think five goalkeepers would’ve saved it. It was a wonderful strike to win the game, so I have to take my hat off to them.
“It was disappointing because we were the better side. We just didn’t put the ball in the back of the net and we got punished.
“We’re not down, we’re not out. The actual level of the performance was really good.”
Robinson also refused to be too critical of the referee, despite feeling that visiting full-back Joe Pratley-Jones was fortunate not to see red after appearing to lash out at Joe Shepherd after the Crusaders midfielder collided with Walton goalkeeper Tyla Dickinson.
The referee has not been a favourite amongst Hungerford fans ever since he added on nine minutes in December’s dramatic 3-3 draw with Beaconsfield, with the Rams equalising right at the death.
And while Robinson felt Pratley-Jones was lucky to have stayed on the pitch after he kicked out at Shepherd he stopped short of blasting the man in the middle.
He said: “We’ve had this gentleman referee us twice and we’ve been a bit frustrated by a couple of his decisions.
“Shep (Joe Shepherd) did foul their goalkeeper, I’m not going to deny that, but their full-back has come over and stamped all over him.
“Everybody in the ground saw it. The linesman even buzzed him to come over and tell him, but he chose to ignore it.
“I felt he got it wrong and the consistency amongst referees isn’t what we’d like it to be but I’m not going to blame the ref, we have to look at ourselves for losing the game.
“Referees have got a hard job and if we’d taken our chances, we wouldn’t be having this conversation; he didn’t make us miss the chances we created.”
Town have dropped to eighth and, while they’re just one point outside the play-off places, face an uphill battle to sneak into the top five, with fifth-placed AFC Totton possessing three games in hand.
Robinson remains bullish about his side’s chances but insists Town will need to be “close to perfect” ahead of the final 12 games of the season.
“We’ve got 12 cup finals in front of us and we’re going to enjoy it,” he said.
“We’ve improved massively. We’re in a new league and we’re learning on the job. We’ve only got Rhys Tyler and George Smith, who are both long term absentees, Matt Berry-Hargreaves, Fabio (Lopes) and Great (Evans) still with us from last season. It’s a brand new squad and it took some time for us to settle.
“Things haven’t been easy, it’s been a tough, hard graft. It’s still in our hands and we’ve got to try and be as perfect as we can.
“We’ve had a change off the pitch, with the chairman going and the new chairman coming in, and we’re growing all the time.
“We’re learning together and we’re going to give the last 12 games a massive go and see where it takes us.”
Hungerford travel to Hendon, who are one place and six points below them in the league but have two games in hand, on Saturday. The Crusaders won the reverse 3-0 in October while Hendon have been out of sorts of late and are winless in their last four.