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Jones praises mental strength after shootout success

17 September 2020

Alfie Jones praised his side’s mental strength after Hull City recovered from conceding a last-minute equaliser to beat Leeds United on penalties.

Ezgjan Alioski’s 93rd-minute strike denied the Tigers victory in normal time, cancelling out Mallik Wilks’ deflected fifth-minute effort.

It was cruel on Grant McCann’s men, who created a plethora of chances in an absorbing Carabao Cup second-round tie.

But City picked themselves up and held their nerve to prevail 9-8 in a mammoth penalty shootout, with Jones netting the decisive spot-kick.

And the Tigers’ match-winner was impressed with the confidence his teammates showed under pressure – as well as the overall team display.

“It was a great performance from the lads,” said Jones. “Defensively, we were good, pressed high. We caused them a lot of problems and we had a fair few chances in the game.

“It was heartbreaking [to concede]. That’s the last thing we wanted. To concede that late on was a killer after such a strong performance.

“We had a lot of chances to kill the game but fair play to the boys, we kept our heads. Mentally that’s tough and to go into a penalty shootout just after conceding that late is a tough place to be.

“But the lads were focused and all the boys were confident and slotted away their pens.”

The Tigers converted nine of their ten efforts, with Jones the last man to step up.

“A lot of the boys came over and got their names in first,” he commented. “Everyone was confident to step up and take a penalty.

“I was the tenth and it was nice to get the winner. There was a little bit of pressure – in a penalty shootout there always is.

"You’ve got to be confident, pick your spot and hit it. Thankfully I did that.”

City’s reward is a third-round trip to Premier League side West Ham United next Tuesday – and it is a tie Jones is already looking forward to.

“It’s a massive game for the lads,” he added. “You want to be playing the big clubs in this competition.

“You want to test your ability and for the squad, it’s always good to play against the big clubs.

“We’re looking forward to it but we focus on the league first and make sure we get a good performance and three points in the league against Crewe.”

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