‘They’re a handful’ – Steve McNulty praises Bootle strikeforce as Bucks prepare for City of Liverpool showdown

Ben Hodkinson celebrates for Bootle vs Prescot Cables

Bootle boss Steve McNulty has lauded his attackers after Ben Hodkinson, Tom Peterson and Jack McGowan were instrumental in their win over Prescot Cables.

Hodkinson added two more to his seasonal tally as Peterson also got himself on the scoresheet during their comeback with McGowan contributing to all three.

The win moved the Bucks closer to realising their playoff hopes as they sit just four points off the final place – currently occupied by Mossley.

McNulty praised the character from his side to come from behind after the visitors took the lead after just two minutes.

“Disappointing start, we’d defended well all game apart from the cross into the box which cost us against Leek so the goal so early on was disappointing,” he told Off The Park.

“The lads showed great character, great team spirit and we got back into the game, I thought we thoroughly deserved the points, their manager said after the game we were the better side and the best team on the day won so it was good we come from a goal behind and got the three points.”

For the second time since taking over, McNulty’s side came from behind but showed the resurgence of their recent form – something which pleased the Bootle boss.

He continued: “We went through those five games when we lost, going behind the spirit was low, the confidence and you’re thinking ‘I’m not sure we can get back into this game’ but it’s totally flipped itself around on its head.

“You go behind or chasing a game, the lads’ confidence is up, you can see the spirit, it’s all coming together and you’re standing on the side with some great players on the pitch, they know how we want to do things and you’re thinking it’s only a matter of time before we get back into the game.

“So hats off to the lads for still going, doing what we were asking of them and we got back into the game.”

Last season’s Bucks top goalscorer moved onto nine for the season following his brace as Peterson moved onto six for the campaign.

The frontline have come to the fore in recent weeks and have bolstered their arsenal with the loan extension of Nivaldo and Andy Owens on dual registration.

“They’re a handful for anyone on their day and when they turn up, we’ve got the four now with Nivaldo, on their day they’ll give any back four a good game and that’s what they’ve been doing of late,” McNulty said. “Jack’s [McGowan] been playing off the left, he didn’t score but he puts a great shift in, great for the team, puts crosses into the box, I think he set one or two up.

“Ben [Hodkinson] on the other side is a danger, we say to Ben he needs to give the team a little bit more other than just goals and that’s what we’re working on with him, that’s what he wants to do. Tom Peterson and Nivaldo on their day, they’re a handful for anyone.

“At the minute it’s all going good, we’ve got goals in the team, it’s a matter of keeping a clean sheet at the other end and we know we’ll create chances and score goals.”

They kick off 2023 with a derby clash against City of Liverpool who go into the game buoyed on the back of their 2-0 win over Runcorn Linnets.

The outcome of the encounter could have different impacts on both ends of the table and for the Bucks, they’re looking to add to their impressive end to the calendar year.

“I’ve always said the table will settle down after Christmas, everyone will find their feet and the table will be a little bit more realistic, we just need to be in there when it does settle down in a good position,” he added.

“If we can pick another couple of results up, we will be in a good positions so we want to do that, it’s going to be another tough game.

“They’ve had a great result against Runcorn on Boxing Day, there’s no easy game as we keep saying and whoever turns up will win the game and we want to go in there, confidence is high, looking to win the game.

“They’re a good side, we’ve watched them a few times, they’ve got a good side, Kev Elly [Ellison] a really experienced player, he’ll want to go up and wind people up so we’ve got make sure we’re professional and don’t pick up silly bookings. It will be a tough game but a good one for everyone to watch, a good spectacle and one to look forward to.

“There’s games where we haven’t performed and picked up a scrappy three points, there’s games where we’ve played well and not come away with anything so you take the three points every day.

“No matter how they come, we need to grind results out when we’re not playing well, when the football’s not flowing then when we are playing well, we know we can score goals and get three points that way. It’s good that we can do both and grind the results out.”

[Featured image: Paul Moran]

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