Brewers boss delighted with Boxing Day winBrewers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was happy to pick up three points from another home win maintaining his 100% home record as manager but felt that the visitors were in a false position in the table and made it more difficult for his side than the League table suggested at the start of play. Like the last visitors to the Pirelli, Tranmere sat in the bottom two, alongside Hartlepool, at the start of play but even after going a goal and a man down after the sending off of defender Liam Ridehalgh, they refused to give in and made Albion battle for the points.
"It was not easy today" commented Hasselbaink afterwards. "I must say that they [Tranmere] dont deserve to be where they are. They way they played here, they do keep the ball really well. They gave us problems at certain stages of the game. Tactically they were spot on but I thought we came out in the first fifteen minutes on the front foot and we looked sharp, we defended from the front and we looked sharper on the ball. I am very happy."
The Brewers boss acknowledged that the red card and resulting penalty, swept home by Damien McCrory, gave his side a good platform to go on and win the game but admitted that his side had to maintain their standards to keep Rovers at bay and pick up the three points, denying the visitors a shot on goal throughout the game.
"It puts you in a promising position but it also puts you in a dangerous position because if you drop your standards they can get the upper hand and if you think that you have already won the game it can be very dangerous and playing against ten men is not as easy as people think. I think we coped with that really at stages. At times we could have done that better, both with and without the ball because when they went down to ten men I thought we were not perhaps as sharp as we had been and we addressed that in the second half. We looked okay in the second half."
"If you want to be successful you have to defend as a unit. You have to defend as a team and that is what we did. If you keep on doing that then you give yourself a better chance. Now we have a better chance of succeeding. Today it was very nice to not give a chance away and that is the benchmark."
Deadline day signing Kelvin Maynard was pushed into early action in midfield after a nasty injury to leading scorer Alex MacDonald and the versatile Dutchman showed his versatility by bursting into the box and winning the penalty that put Albion in command of the game and Hasselbaink praised the contribution of the former Antwerp man.
"Kelvin can play in several positions. He can play in the midfield as well as playing in the defence and when he plays in the midfield he has the urge to come forwards and I must say he made a good run for the penalty and I think it was a definite penalty. Fortunately for us Damien has scored the penalty really well."
Albion's manager was also pleased to see Shane Cansdell-Sherriff on the scoresheet for the second successive home game having not previously netted for the club in over fifty games after joining the club in the Autumn of 2013. Hasselbaink emphasised the importance of goals coming from throughout the team, especially the central defenders.
"Before I arrived here Shane had not scored for the club. I think it is important to see the centre halves on the scoresheet as well, very important. I am very happy that Shane has scored again for us."
Young midfielder Matty Palmer returned to the starting line-up for the game against Rovers in the only change to the side from the previous two games and the manager is pleased with the progress of his midfield talent who continues to improve under the manager's influence.
"Matty was very good" admitted Jimmy, "He was very disciplined. Later on in the game I want more from him. Technically he is so good. He just needs to understand the game and he is getting there but it was a very good performance from him today."
One of the more pleasing aspects of the Boxing Day victory was the return to action of popular winger Jimmy Phillips. It may have only been a cameo appearance in second half stoppage time but just to have Phillips back on the pitch was a real bonus for the Albion boss who hopes that Phillips can have a big part to play in the second half of the season. With the likes of Lucas Akins also not far away from a return to action the manager can look forward to some selection headaches in the weeks to come.
Jimmy continued "Lucas is not quite back yet but it is nice to see that Jimmy is back after a big injury and hopefully he can become a very important person for us because he is the kind of player that I dont really have in the squad right now so he could be a really vital ingredient for us. He got a great reception from the fans and that is important. They like him and we like him also. Now he needs to get his form back that he had before he got injured and we are working very hard with him to do that."
With three points in the bag from Tranmere, Albion's thoughts now turn to a tricky away trip to Accrington Stanley barely 48 hours after today's game but it is a game that Hasselbaink is looking forward to.
"It will be another difficult game." Jimmy admitted, "They are a good side, I like Accrington. They play football, they try to pass the ball and it is going to be interesting."
One man Albion will have to do without for the trip to the Store First Stadium is Alex MacDonald. The winger who is Albion's leading scorer so far this season, came off second best in a collision with an advertising hoarding and Hasselbaink is just hoping that the injury is not serious.
"It is early to know exactly what has happened with Alex. He has a big cut in his knee. We just hope that he has not injured any tendons. If he hasnt then I dont think he will be out for too long. If he has then it is someone that I will miss and I dont want him missing because he has been really vital for us in the way that we play. It is a blow for him because he has been doing really well. We have been working really hard on his fitness because we feel he needs to play 95 or 100 minutes and when I came he couldnt do that but now he is getting there. He is one or our leaders in the squad and we need him back asap."