Bootle assistant manager Carl Macauley was left content with the performance in their 1-1 draw with Colne.
The Bucks entered the trip to Lancashire on the back of five straight defeats against a side who came into the encounter off the back their 5-0 FA Trophy win over higher opposition.
Jack McGowan put Bootle in front inside 20 minutes with a well-taken strike but after having to defend with 10 men for half-an-hour following Ben Roberts’ red card, Colne hit back with just 10 minutes on the clock.
Ben Hodkinson will be kicking himself for his miss at 1-0 after rounding the goalkeeper before putting his shot over the bar. For the former Witton Albion manager, he felt that moment was a turning point.
He told Off The Park: “I think when we arrived and seen the pitch, it’s not in the greatest condition so we knew it was going to be tough.
“We had to change and adapt to a different style of how we wanted to play. It kind of paid off in a way because the front four was a menace all afternoon, their movement, Jack, Ben, Val [Nivaldo] and caused them problems.
“Then we get a reward from a set-play, a well worked set-play and Jack comes around and gets the finish off, we had some great opportunities. Ben gets himself in a great opportunity and rounds the ‘keeper – at that stage it’s a big turning point, if he puts it in the back of the net but he doesn’t do that but I thought he had a fantastic game and was a menace for their wingback.
“I thought the whole team defended really really well, balls coming into our box, first and second balls, there wasn’t many opportunities they got round the back of us but we had to stay strong and deal with every ball that came into our box, we done that really well.”
He continued: “Another turning point was the sending off, Ben Roberts, it was, two bookings, nothing we can do. The lads are saying the lad who struck it got a bit of luck, I think it’s kind of hit his shinpad and gone in.
“There’s nothing we can do about that, we come here, we wanted to get the result, it wasn’t the perfect result for us, we wanted three points but on the current situation where we struggled to get results, we’ll take that.”
The contest was largely uneventful but to Bootle’s credit, they defended astutely as Colne resorted for long-range shots – which proved to be the eventual undoing of the lead.
It was Steve McNulty’s side who had the greater opportunities but with their recent luck and form, it always felt like the one-goal lead wasn’t a comfortable one.
Macauley continued his praise and labelled the draw as a “point gained”, he added: “I think it definitely is a point gained, we had 10 men, we stayed strong, we limited them to chances.
“Yes, they had a lot of final third entries which is always the case when you’re down to 10 but you have to weather that storm, deal with balls into your box, we done that, we dealt with it, the lads hit it from outside the box.
“I’ve got to give credit to the lads, they’ve put in a big shift today, the two midfielders against three midfielders I thought they did very well. They got a lot of second balls, the front four were really, really good, Charlie on one side, Ben the other, Jack and Val up front, really good from the front four.”
For many, performances couldn’t stoop lower than they 4-1 home defeat to Hanley, seven days earlier. This week spelt a change of approach from the management team.
During the period between games, the squad enjoyed a team bonding experience on Tuesday. Something that Macauley feels has dragged the squad closer.
“There was a massive improvement, a massive team spirit, I think the team bonding on Tuesday night has helped us as a team, the passion, the determination that we showed today in the game, it stood out for me,” he said.
“Everyone was fighting, working hard, they’re upset with the current situation, they’ve tried everything they could to get a result and unfortunately, we didn’t get the right result. But like I said, it’s a result.