‘Sign of a good team’ – Steve McNulty eyes improvement following ‘scrappy’ Skelmersdale United win as Bootle go 11th

Bootle celebrate Nivaldo's goal vs Skelmersdale United

Bootle manager Steve McNulty insists that his side must improve despite extending their unbeaten run to 11 after their win over Skelmersdale United.

Ben Hodkinson scored directly from a corner 13 minutes from time to ensure the Bucks made it two wins from their previous two.

On-loan striker Nivaldo was gifted his first for the club after he pounced on a mix-up at the back from Skem.

The derby was largely uneventful with the only real flashpoint coming in the dying minutes when Billy Smart and Connor McCarthy clashed with the latter being shown a straight red card for violent conduct.

Bootle’s win saw them move to within six points of the playoffs and as many points from the bottom four.

“Scrappy, probably not one of our better performances, we’ve played better and lost but we defended great from the front, everyone put their bodies on the line and we got the win in the end,” he told Off The Park.

“A draw probably would’ve been a fair result but listen, we put the ball in the box and it went in but you take the three points.

‘Sometimes you have to dig in as a team, we didn’t create much going forward, I thought we looked solid and they probably had more possession than us, a draw was probably a fair result as I say.

“They had more of the ball but didn’t hurt us, passing side to side, we defended the box well and we nicked one late on.

“I keep saying to the lads never too high, never too low, somewhere in the middle,” he added on the message after the match. “You’ve got to enjoy your wins when you win, take the losses on the chin when they come but that’s four on the bounce now.

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‘We need to keep this run going as long as we can, we’re a bit light on numbers – we had Ben Roberts phone in sick this morning, had to put Coops [Jay Cooper] at right-back.

“We’ve got Si [Simon Wills] to come back, Will [Bell] is back from his suspension as well. Big game on Wednesday in the Senior Cup so we will assess everything then maybe look to bring a couple more before the weekend.”

Billy Smart arrived from Lower Breck in midweek whilst winger Abs Obasoto completed a loan move from Macclesfield.

The midfielder was handed his debut from the offset whilst Obasoto was introduced after the break.

“I thought they done brilliant,” McNulty said. “Billy [Smart] in midfield, done well, we know what we’ll get out of Billy, he showed that today and Abs [Obasoto] come on at half-time, probably didn’t want to bring him on so early but Val [Nivaldo] was struggling with his hamstring so it was a change we were forced into. He come on and had a few goes at their full-back but he’ll get better the more he plays.”

He added: “We can improve, we didn’t create much in the final third but defended great, we said in there we need to be better on the ball our final pass was off and we didn’t get behind them enough.

“Players didn’t get themselves into the game but it’s a sign of a good team, things will start improving because we have played better and lost. We stayed in the game, ground it out and got the points.”

Despite earning the three points which helped them up the table, McNulty was keen to dismiss playoff talk as they moved to within two wins of the top six.

He said: “The league is still up in the air, it will settle down after Christmas then we’ll have a proper look at the table then you’ll be in a better position to look at what you can do in the season.

“Six points off the playoffs, six points off the bottom, the league will settle down then we’ll assess it then.

“We need to turn this place into a fortress but we have to dig in and fight through periods of their pressure, fight through our box well and that’s what we do. I think we look a lot more solid, the back four, Tom [Peterson] was defending from the front so three points on the board.

[Featured image: Paul Moran]

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