Hill Street boss Simon Gilkinson delighted to see boys take their chances

Hill Street boss Simon Gilkinson delighted to see boys take their chances

Hill Street joint-manager Simon Gilkinson says it was only a matter of time before his players found their scoring boots.

The Lurgan outfit hammered Derryhirk United 11-1 on Saturday to flex their muscle in Division 1.

The week before they scored seven unanswered goals against Irvinestown Wanderers in the Junior Cup.

It has been an ominous statement of intent from Gilkinson’s boys, who sit sixth in Division 1 but with games in hand over their rivals.

“We were delighted with the performance and result,” said Gilkinson, who shares the managerial reins with Mark Pollock.

“We won 7-0 last week in the Junior Cup, but up until these two results we have been playing well but haven’t been clinical.

“We played Newmills a couple of weeks ago and lost 3-2. They are flying high at the top of the league, but it says something when their assistant manager says to you at the end of the game that you should have won 10-4.

“We missed so many chances and they scored from three mistakes from us. We just couldn’t find the net. We got ourselves into positions but not scoring.

“So the past two games have been pleasing. We have been getting the chances and scoring them.

“We always felt things would click and someone would take a heavy beating.

“Last week we were 3-0 up at half-time, and it could have been five. Then in the second half we missed a bagful of chances before our subs came on and put them to the sword.

“So it is pleasing that we are getting goals from throughout the team. We are not just relying on the strikers.”

Andy McMath bagged a hat-trick on Saturday, while the other goals were scored by Kyle Cousins (2), Andrew Hagan, Steven Lawson, Mark Hamilton, Josh Woods, Jamie Hall and Jack McNally.

“Andy got a hat-trick on Saturday which is really pleasing,” Gilkinson added.

“Andy hadn’t played for a long while and is only just back. So it has taken him time to get up to speed.

“Big Kyle Cousins has been playing with a groin injury all season, and he scored two on Saturday which takes him to 20 goals this season.

“He has been playing through injury.

Hill Street joint-managers Mark Pollock and Simon Gilkinson
(Image: Bill Smyth)

“So we are starting to see things come to fruition, and our fitness levels are improving all the time.”

Gilkinson believes his players provided the perfect response to their recent 3-2 defeat to Division 1 leaders Newmills.

The Junior Cup rout of Irvinestown Wanderers got Hill Street back on track, and they continued playing with a swagger against Derryhirk.

“We got a good reaction from the Newmills defeat. We said to the lads we just needed to get that result out of our heads,” Gilkinson said.

“We got a positive reaction in the 7-0 win over Irvinestown in the Junior Cup, and again on Saturday against Derryhirk, who we knew were struggling.

“We actually train beside them every Tuesday and Thursday night at Lurgan Junior High and we knew they were struggling a wee bit, but to go out and get a result like that was very pleasing.

“I can’t take anything away from the lads.”

Hill Street Andrew Hagan after scoring at the weekend
(Image: Bill Smyth)

While Hill Street haven’t set any targets this season, Gilkinson says there is a growing belief within the squad that they can go all the way in Division 1.

“We haven’t set out any specific targets apart from being consistent. If we do that, and I think we have shown that recently, then we will be up challenging. We will be there or thereabouts,” he added.

“But there are about four or five other teams probably saying the same thing. There are some really good teams and good players in this division.

“All it takes is for one or two injuries and suddenly you’re under pressure.

“So there is a long way to go and we will take it one game at a time.

“There is a bit of confidence with the guys but we won’t get carried away with it. We have a couple of tough matches coming up, starting with Coalisland this weekend.

“We went five games unbeaten last season before it all ended early. We had a wee bit of confidence from that.

“But then Covid hit hard and it was tough getting players back for this season. Our pre-season was probably the toughest I can remember. Trying to motivate players to get out of the house.

“We only lost one player, young Cameron Purdy who went to Glenavon. So we kept our squad together and added to it.

“The last two weeks are probably the only times we have had a full squad to choose from, so that hopefully bodes well.

“I think there is a belief in the squad that we can do well this season.

“This is our third season in charge, but this is probably the first season we have had a proper go at it because of the previous Covid issues.”

Hill Street face a tough test on the road at the weekend when they travel to Coalisland Athletic who sit a point above them in the table – leaders Newmills are also on their travels at seaside club Annalong.

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