Livid Bartlett’s hairdryer treatment not enough to motivate Arrows

2014-03-14 00:00

GOLDEN Arrows caretaker coach Shaun Bartlett was visibly livid following his side’s 2-1 loss against Mpumalanga Black Aces on Wednesday night.

The defeat at King Zwelithini Stadium has left the Umlazi-based side bottom of the PSL and four points behind 15th placed Free State Stars with 10 rounds of fixtures remaining.

A lot can still happen in that time, but Arrows will need to gather significant points in their next three fixtures against Moroka Swallows (away), Wits (home) and Maritzburg United (away) if they are to get the ball rolling towards safety.

It is a tough ask for a largely restructured squad that has only been playing together since the start of the year after then-coach Mark Harrison brought in no less than seven new faces.

Arrows were completely outplayed in the first half on Wednesday night by a Clive Barker outfit that kept the ball and their shape with aplomb, and the 1-0 half-time score line in the favour of the visitors could have been greater.

But Arrows were a different side in the second half and their tenacity was rewarded when Rudolf Bester equalised before Aces scored a second to steal all three points with 15 minutes to play.

“I had a go at them at half time,” Bart­lett conceded to The Witness after his side’s lacklustre display in the opening period.

“I pretty much told them that we can’t allow these teams to come here and take points from us. This is our home and if you want to stay in the PSL then you need to fight for every point.”

The fact that other relegation threatened teams — Polokwane City and Free State Stars — lost their matches midweek made the result even worse for Arrows.

“It is very disappointing. I keep saying that we are depending on other teams to lose points and that has happened, but we need to do our job,” said Bartlett.

“It was a bit of a setback conceding, but we needed to bounce back. You can’t play football for 45 minutes. You have to start the game in the right tempo.”

While football pundits around the country have all but written off Arrows’ chances of staying up this season, Bart­lett remains optimistic.

“It is always difficult after losing a game because you have to pick up the boys,” he said. “But we are definitely not out of it. There are still 10 games to go.”

At the other end of the spectrum, the Durban-born Barker was full of praise for his team.

“I tell you what, they might not be top of the log but they pass the ball better than anybody in the country,” the 1996 African Cop of Nations-winning coach said. “I look forward to watching this side play. I get quite excited on the bench when they start moving the ball around. I think they’re a very good team.”

Aces have now almost certainly preserved their top flight status for next season, and sit in 10th place on the log, 14 points ahead of Arrows.

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