REACTION: Hopkin and Johnston on goalless draw
After Saturday afternoon’s 0-0 draw at Somerset Park, David Hopkin and Allan Johnston, managers of Ayr United and Queen of the South respectively, spoke to the press. Jack Donnelly reports.
Neither Ayr nor Queens were able to find a goal, as the two sides played out a goalless draw on Saturday afternoon at a sunny Somerset Park.
Ayr had the better of the chances throughout the encounter, with the likes of Mark McKenzie, Michael Moffat and Josh Todd all going close, but a lack of clinical finishing meant that The Honest Men were unable to come away with all three points.
While a point for Queens effectively ends their hopes of securing a playoff space, it was enough to mathematically guarantee their place in the Championship for next season.
All To Play For
Ayr manager David Hopkin had been looking for this intensity and attitude from his players in recent weeks, but knew that for the amount of chances Ayr created, they should have come away with more than a draw:
“I think for the effort, the commitment, the chances we had in the game, we have to score. In the second half, we’ve had three or four good chances to score.
“You can see that Queens just came for a point, and I thought the longer the game went, I didn’t want to get hit on the counter attack, but fair play to the players, they gave me everything today. I asked them for a performance and they gave me it, but I just think the amount of chances made this winnable.”
With Arbroath losing to Dunfermline and Morton being held by Alloa, any one of the three could find themselves in the relegation playoff spot after next weekend’s action. Hopkin is well aware of the stakes and is hoping for another big performance against Inverness on Friday night:
“When I came to the club, my remit was to keep Ayr in the Championship. We didn’t want to get relegated straight down, we’ve got a chance to stay out of the playoffs. We’ve got a massive game in Inverness, but there’s another massive game between Morton and Arbroath.
“It’s good that we’ve managed to hang in there, especially after last week. I said to the players during the week that we have to be resilient, and I thought we were today. It’s tough (at this level), you make mistakes and you get punished, but, today, I thought we should’ve won the game.”
Given the result against last weekend, Hopkin is happy with how his players reacted during the week, and was impressed by their commitment against Queens:
“The players were low after the Arbroath game, but it just shows you what a good bunch of players they are. We’ve worked on shape, on how to create chances – I think we did that today.
“It’s sometimes difficult when you come into a job – you’re trying to stop goals, you’re trying to score goals, sometimes you get caught in between. I just thought, today, we defended brilliantly, we attacked and we should’ve at least scored one goal. We go on to Friday night and we get on with it, and if I see that performance again, I’d be delighted.”
Aside from anything else, Saturday’s result secured another year of Championship football for Queen of the South, something that Queens manager Allan Johnston was over the moon with:
“Delighted! It wasn’t a classic game by any means – there wasn’t much between the teams, a pretty even game, a few half chances but overall, I think a draw’s the fair result.
“We came to try and win the game, because I don’t think you can come to places like Ayr and try and come for a draw, but we’re delighted to get the draw and make sure we’re safe.”
With Championship status secured and playoffs virtually impossible, Johnston can start looking ahead to next season and spoke about player recruitment and retention:
“Everybody’s out of contract! It’s always a rebuilding job at Queen of the South, hopefully we can get a few of the boys signed up – we need to speak to the board first and obviously make sure we’ve got the budget in place, but obviously securing a position in the league next year makes a big difference.
“It’s always going to be difficult when we don’t pay as much as the majority of teams in our division, so trying to recruit players is always going to be difficult.”
Johnston admitted he’s unsure as to which of the three teams facing the relegation playoff will survive, but he was complimentary to his opposition:
“It’s really close – thankfully we’re not involved in that, because they’re good teams. You saw that today with Ayr, they’ve got top quality players and I’m sure they’ll be alright.”