Martin O’Neill, interviewed on Sky Sports 1 after the 2-1 victory over Birmingham City was asked if he’d enjoyed his first derby game. He said not really!
‘I didn’t really enjoy it. I’m delighted we’ve won. The game could have gone either way. I thought the early exchanges all went to Birmingham. I felt we just about merited it at half-time. When Birmingham equalised I felt the next goal wins the game obviously, I’m delighted it was us. The game was in the balance. It could have gone either way.’
Adding, ‘I’ll enjoy the result. I’m delighted for this team and our fans and deep down relieved to get out of it.’
He also said he was too far away to really see either of the penalty claims but Steve Bruce apparently wasn’t as he said:
‘At the time and I’m convinced they were penalties. As usual Mr Bennett, we never seem to get those decisions. You need them to make decisions which are right. In a big game today we’ve been harshly done by. He’s got them wrong. I hope he comes out here and admits he’s wrong. We needed those decisions to go for us.’ Adding that a draw would have been a fairer result.
To be fair, from the replays, the first was a hand ball, the second was a difficult decision, the player was harshly treated to be booked, whether a penalty or not, it didn’t look like a dive.
Meanwhile, O’Neill on the official site said it is great to get the three points (our first away win since last April) but agreed the derby matches are about ‘more’ than just the points.
He was also pleased with the spirit in the team, ‘I thought that was one of the most encouraging aspects for me. When they came back to 1-1 and we were under the cosh a little bit, we responded greatly.’
And just to show that he does live and breath the game, ‘The winning goal was terrific and now I’ve experienced this derby. I was concerned about the game all week and wanting to do well. We’ve won the game and got the three points on the board, but it’s about more than that. There’s always more at stake in a derby game and the Villa fans have gone home delighted.’
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