Kirk justifies Lee’s faith
Date published: 21 October 2013
KIRK Millar got his chance to impress against Carlisle thanks to a sparkling showing in a five-a-side contest in training, Athletic manager Lee Johnson revealed.
After Charlie MacDonald had hobbled off injured early in the match, it was a surprise for many that Millar – as opposed to the other substitute options – was handed a chance to impress up front alongside Adam Rooney.
Johnson felt it was right to let the 21-year-old Belfast boy off the leash after witnessing him in storming form the day before.
Thanks to Rooney’s first-half penalty and a stoic defensive effort to keep a first Sky Bet League One clean sheet of the season, the talk of many fans leaving Boundary Park was how well the energetic Millar had performed.
“Kirk has been fantastic. In training, we really tried to work with him mentally because he beats himself up a little bit,” said Johnson.
“On Friday, I played in the five-a-side with him and thought ‘this kid is on fire’. I have always liked Kirk and I am a little bit frustrated I haven’t been able to get him more game time.”
Athletic rode their luck at times. Carlisle had their own chances and Lee Miller caused a brilliant low stop from the recalled Mark Oxley deep into the second half.
While admitting his side weren’t on top form, Johnson was happy to have dug out three points.
“It was a tough game and we knew it would be. We started really well, played some nice stuff and were the better of the two sides, and then got the penalty,” he added.
“After that we had to dig in. It was great for this bunch of lads to dig in and win, without playing as well as we have done when we have lost games.
“Football is crazy, isn’t it? We have destroyed teams and not come out with a win. Here, you could say they could have scored with a couple of chances. The most important thing is it is another win for us.”
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