FINN HARPS manager Peter Hutton’s perception of the positives outweighed the negatives after his side scraped a point having been two goals down against Mervue United on Friday night.
First-half goals from Mervue’s Ryan Manning and Brendan Lavelle left Harps with a mountain to climb but they forced their way back into the contest in the second half thanks to a goal from Thomas McMonagle and a Kevin McHugh penalty. Ciaran Gallagher then saved a penalty from Jason Lavelle to preserve the point.
“I’m delighted in the sense that having been 2-0 down at half-time it’s good to get the result,” Hutton said. “But at the same time I’m disappointed as we were in the ascendancy in the first 20 minutes and failed to take advantage of that. We conceded two very soft goals having shot ourselves in the foot and left ourselves with an uphill battle.
“We had to get the players refocus as we weren’t particularly bad. It was just that we gave away the ball in the wrong areas and got punished. We were the better side up until the first goal and the second goal just rattled us. I just told the boys that it was important to get something out of the game.”
Although things on the scoreboard at least we looking bleak at the interval, the former Derry City captain believes his side had been playing reasonably well in the opening 45 minutes only to be punished for looseness in possession.
“We couldn’t afford to concede the third goal and it was vital that we scored first in the second half,” Hutton said. “But we showed some character and resilience and went about it in the right manner and that justified us getting a point in the end.
“Belief is the key. Slowly but surely the mentality of the players is changing. Sometimes we’re learning things the hard way but we’re learning and growing as a group and a team. They have a bit of a drive about them.
“I’m just a little disappointed that when we got the equaliser we just couldn’t push on that little but more and get a third. After it was 2-2 the momentum of the match was stopped with continuous stoppages. But we were delighted with Ciaran’s penalty save. It was a harsh award but it just shows the mentality of Ciaran as it didn’t affect him and made an excellent save.”
Harps have eight points from four outings this season, a credible start when its considered they only amassed 10 points in 12 of their opening fixtures 12 months ago.
“We’ve played two of the pre-season favourites in Longford Town and Waterford United and two good sides in Cobh Ramblers and Mervue,” Hutton said. “We’re happy where we are and even a little disappointed we didn’t pick up another few points in regards the draws.
“But we’re not too downhearted as we’ve hit the ground running and we welcome the position we’re in. It’s important that we remain focused as this is likely to be the most open First Division in years. We’ve been showing a good level of performance.”
Next up for Harps is the visit of Wexford Youths, a side whom they have in recent years found difficulty with. However, the home support and Finn Park on Friday will be confident their team can keep their fine going, even if it’s likely they will be forced to field without two important players in Sean McCarron and Sean McGowan.
“Unfortunately we lost both,” Hutton continued. “Sean McCarron pulled his calf and had to leave Galway on crutches and Sean McGowan went over on his ankle. It’s too early to say what the consequences are but it’s fair to say both would be rated doubtful for next week at this early stage.
“But we have good strength in depth in this squad and it might provide an opportunity for one or two more to come into the team. There are boys on the periphery right now that are biting at the bit.”