Saunders: I got subs call wrong
MARK Saunders has held his hands up and admitted he got his substitutions wrong on Saturday, as Tiverton Town threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to Evesham United.
With two thirds of the game gone and cruising at 2-0 following goals from Joe Bushin and Dave Pearse, Saunders chose to replace the former with Owen Howe and David Steele with Josh Searle.
Evesham then began to assert themselves far more, halving the deficit with 13 minutes remaining before snatching a dramatic equaliser in the fifth minute of injury time.
Saunders defended the reasoning behind his replacements, but conceded the swaps had potentially 'backfired' and cost Tivvy two points in the promotion race.
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"It is very disappointing that we did not finish it off and I have to take some of the blame for that – I should have left it alone," he said. "It is two points dropped for us and I have to hold my hands up to that.
"I decided to make a couple of substitutions because the pitch was very heavy and I thought the lads would soon tire after putting in a real shift for 60-odd minutes.
"Looking back at it, it probably would have been better if I had just left it alone because the lads who were on the pitch were playing well and winning the game.
"Whether that backfired or not, and whether I shot myself in the foot or not, I don't know but looking back I probably should have left it.
"But when you have a heavy pitch and fresh legs on a good bench with a decent squad then you do have to look at using it, especially considering the conditions."
It was an unwelcome role reversal for the Yellows, who had clawed their way back from 2-0 down the previous week at Sholing to salvage a 2-2 draw.
But the boot was on the other foot this time round in a result that sees the Yellows drop four points behind third-placed Swindon Supermarine as the race for automatic promotion and play-off spots hots up heading into the festive period.
Saunders' squad travel to Abingdon United – with whom they drew 0-0 on the opening day of the season – in their next match on Saturday, where they will be keen to set the record straight following the weekend's disappointing stalemate.
And Saunders confirmed that he had plenty of confidence his players would not let the draw against Evesham weigh on their minds too heavily.
"I think the lads will be fine. Last week we came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 and this week we have thrown away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2," he explained.
"But they are a good group of lads and I am sure they will move on from this and not let it affect them too much.
"Confidence is still high in the dressing room, even if the draw on Saturday did feel more like a defeat than a point earned."
The Yellows will be without the services of centre-backs Paul Kendall and Adam Faux, both of whom are suspended.
Michael Nardiello and Jules Emati-Emati are both injured, although Harry Nodwell will be in contention after recovering from an ankle injury.