O'Neil | 'The noise from the stadium was incredible'

Gary O’Neil praised the importance of the Wolves support after their backing helped his side fight until the end of their FA Cup fifth round victory over Brighton & Hove Albion.

Although the head coach admitted he would have preferred his side to have won the game playing a different style of football, with the lack of preparation time between two important Premier League fixtures, O’Neil was delighted with the way his players did what needed to be done to book a place in the quarter-finals and set up a home tie with Coventry City.

On taking down Brighton in the fifth round

“They’re a really good side, aren’t they? The way they play, it’s tough to get the ball back and they have really good rotations with the way they look after the ball.

“The lads were disciplined and they knew that’s how Brighton play, they do take risks and they do give you opportunities to counter-attack, and opportunities to press and win the ball back, and we probably didn’t have as good opportunities as they did, because they had a lot of the ball and the lads had to defend and be resolute.

“But the crowd played a big part helping to keep the lads going in the late parts of the game, when they could see we were tiring, but the noise from the stadium was incredible. But it was a really good evening, a tough side to beat, and delighted to get through to the quarter-final.”

On doing what it takes to win

“We haven’t done it in the prettiest way tonight. I’d love the progression of this team to be where we get it to a place where we can have more of the ball. Maybe if this game was played on a Saturday at 3pm after a week of preparation we’d have done it differently.

“But I’d like us to be a bit more progressive and a bit more of the team that has control. But short term is can we get results, can we do what we need to do to get results on the day, and the lads carried out what we asked of them extremely well.

“I’m delighted to get to the quarter-final, a home draw, so I’m really pleased, but there’s no rest because we’re travelling to St James’ Park in a day and a half, so the lads need to get recovered and get ready for another tough game.”

On changes paying off

“I was really pleased. It was a tough team to pick because obviously Channy has felt his hamstring a little bit, which for a squad as small as this, especially in that area of the pitch, is a disaster, but I’m trying to pick the right ones to play and the right ones to rest meant it was a tough couple of days for us. Channy’s [injury] doesn’t look too serious, but I’d be amazed if he plays at the weekend.

“The lads who came in, I thought Doc was excellent defensively, very, very good, Tommy Doyle was very good, Bellegarde caused them some problems, although he started to tire and lose his quality a little bit towards the end, but caused them some problems, so delighted that we were able to change it and still win the game because winning the game was the most important thing.

“We’re a small group and we can’t afford to just keep injuring people, so we needed to be clever. But apart from Channy, we managed to get through ok.”

On facing Coventry in the quarters

“Of course [there are tougher draws], you could get Man City away, Liverpool away, so there are tough games, but I’ve seen quite a bit of Coventry and they play some fantastic stuff, so to play them here, in front of our fans, there will be huge expectation on us, but it won’t be easy. It definitely won’t be easy.

“The lads will know how I feel about that game straight away, and we’ll be really clear on how we approach it. We’ve not been fantastic against teams who are below is in the league this season, so it’s going to be a really tough game.

“We’ve got a few more really important games between now and then as well – the lads have to go to Newcastle in two days’ time and it’s crazy really, a crazy schedule, but we’ll recover and we’ll do our best to go to St James’ Park and see if we can get another result.”

On the draw being made before kick-off

“I was made aware of the draw, and it does seem strange. I don’t think it was added motivation. The moment we travelled to Brentford to play in the third round, we set out with the aim to win the FA Cup.

“We know there are a huge amount of hurdles in the way and it’s going to be really tough, but to win every competition has to be your aim. We went down to ten men and had to scrap for 90 minutes with ten at Brentford, we had to go for 120 in the replay, so the lads are taking the competition really seriously.

“Whoever we got in the next round, we were desperate to win again tonight – especially against Brighton because we haven’t beaten them in a while, I’ve never beaten them as a coach and these players haven’t beaten them in the last five attempts, so it was an important game for us, regardless of who we had. But a home draw is good for us because we love playing here.”