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Ward blames poor start for Stocksbridge defeat

Manager Mark Ward said he was "disappointed" with the performance against Stocksbridge Park Steels in comparison to Tuesday night's win over Morpeth.

Scott Ruthven's expert finish and Luke Mangham's free header pushed Stocksbridge into a comfortable lead at the break whilst the Bulls saw a couple of key chances go amiss.

Charlie Dawes' penalty set up a nervy finish, but the visitors ultimately took all the points as AFC were unable to find a breakthrough.

"I don't think we got out of the blocks very well," the gaffer told Bulls TV, "Stocksbridge were on the front foot and caused us a few problems and we couldn't get a foothold in the game.

"We went two-nil down and rightly so, but in the second half I thought the lads stuck at it and we put them under a lot of pressure.

"For probably the first five (second half) minutes or so it was even but after that we applied the pressure although without actually hurting them with any clear-cut chances.

"Unfortunately we didn't get anything out of the game, which we probably did deserve, but when giving teams two-goal starts it's going to be a thankless task to get out of it.

Without key striker Ollie Fearon up front for the Bulls, Ward did admit that their task was made a little more difficult: "When a striker is playing week in, week out, it does make a difference.

"Unfortunately Ollie had a bit of head loss against Wisbech and it's cost him, but you can't blame Ollie for us losing the game."

Looking onward to a massive final five fixtures for the Bulls, the gaffer hinted that he felt safety could be secured as soon as on Tuesday night.

"I think if we can bang another three points on the board, it makes it very difficult for the two teams down there.

"When they come and how, I don't know, but the sooner the better."

Fans can watch the full post-match interview on Bulls TV.


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