Bootle manager Steve McNulty has expressed his disappointment not to earn three points against Kidsgrove Athletic despite going down to 10 men.
Tom Peterson opened the scoring as his deft touch took it past Ryan Brown. But Eddie Clarke was sent off in the latter stages of the encounter as the Bucks were forced to defend the last quarter of an hour with a man light.
Jimmy Garlick ensured that they earned a point as he equalised within five minutes of the Grove gaining the numerical advantage.
Bootle slipped to 13th, nine points off the bottom four and as many points away from the playoff spots. But the Bucks boss couldn’t hide his dismay following their draw.
“Disappointing not to come away with three points, I thought we had enough chances in the first-half to win two or three games,” said McNulty, speaking to Off The Park. “I thought we should’ve come in two or three-nil up at half-time, we got in some good positions, we just wasn’t clinical enough in front of goal and rushed a few things when we got there.
“But we went down to 10 men in the second half, I thought the lads dug in, showed a lot of fight, grit and we held on for the point.
“You’re always disappointed, I thought we should be four points better off than what we are today,” he added summing up his emotions after the full-time whistle. “I thought we deserved the three points on Tuesday night, it was a magnificent performance, unlucky not to come away with the three points and it’s the same today.
“You’re going down to 10 men, they’re going to be in the ascendancy and you’re going to be under the cosh a little bit but we have to dust ourselves down and go again. We’re improving week in, week out, we’ve got to go on the training pitch and keep improving.”
The second-half saw the visitors fly out of the traps looking to restore parity in the early stages. Bootle were forced to withstand pressure from the Grove, a task made greater when their full-back was given his marching orders.
Despite weathering the storm and earning a point at home, the 39-year-old was still slightly aggrieved not to snap up three points following on from their midweek draw with Witton Albion, he continued: “It’s never a good point.
“I’m greedy, I always want the three points, we set up to be on the front foot but when you go down to 10 men with 20 minutes to go you’re on the side fearing the worst but the lads dug in, showed grit, fight, the shape was good.
“We went to two up front, we thought we could catch them on the break with Sam Taylor’s pace, we went for it even when we were down to 10 men but it’s another point on the board.”
Tranmere Rovers loanees Arthur Lomax-George and Sam Taylor had chances on goal with Peterson going close to having a brace. Connor Millington’s speculative free-kick almost nestled into the top corner only to be tipped over by Ryan Brown.
But there was a similar theme for Bootle as they failed to tuck away their opportunities. McNulty acknowledged the lack of ruthlessness in front of goal.
He explained: “It was the same Tuesday night, we had great chances to win the game and today we had chances in the first half.
“You could be going in two or three up and comfortable, not worrying about the second-half but I’d be more worried if we weren’t creating chances and getting in goalscoring positions, it’s just a matter of time before the lads start taking them.
“It’s been fine margins for a lot of the games. Even when we went on the run, we were drawing too many games – you could say it’s fine margins but we just need to be a lot more clinical in front of goal, take our chances and we’ll be okay.”
With eight games to go, the Bucks are in the Liverpool Senior Cup semi-final – where they will host Runcorn Linnets – but remains to be seen whether they need to look over their shoulder or make a late surge for the top five.
But the Bootle boss has noticed a newfound grit from his side and has put the onus on the players to determine the outcome of their season.
“We just want to keep pushing on and seeing where we can finish. We’re nine points off the bottom four and nine points off the playoff places,” he said.
“I just said to the lads it’s up to them what way they want the season to go, we can only keep poking them as much as we can – at the end of the day, it’s down to them. They seem to have the bit between their teeth in the last couple of weeks and they want to keep climbing the table as much as us.”