Graham Kavanagh on the Walsall game
Manager Graham Kavanagh spoke to us shortly after full time following the disappointing defeat at Walsall.
"There aren't too many positives to take away from today's game," he admitted. "We've played very well in the last couple of weeks, we've shown a lot of grit and determination, but we just didn't have that today. We lost too many battles when it was vitally important that we won them. When that happens and you're playing against a team with real quality you're going to suffer.
"We wanted to have a successful Christmas period and get ourselves into the top half of the table but we've let ourselves down a little bit today. Walsall are a very good team and they've got a lot of good players who are high on confidence. They're very well organised and we knew it was going to be a difficult game. I told the lads that they would have to compete all over the pitch if we wanted to get anything out of the game but we weren't able to do that.
"When we got the penalty I thought it would have been the turning point for us. Obviously we didn't score and we started to think the writing was on the wall. The lads definitely put a shift in but we didn't have the attention to detail we normally talk about. We were kicking balls at each other rather than passing it and we seemed to make everything difficult for ourselves."
"There was no real fluency to our play, which was disappointing," he continued. "The players who have done well for us over the last couple of weeks were way off where they've been. All in all it is disappointing but we'll pick ourselves up and go again on Monday. We'll be expecting a much better performance at home on Boxing Day, and we're confident we can get that because that's where we've been playing our best football recently."
"During my time in charge we haven't had too many injuries but all of a sudden we've got five. We got two during the game and we're back down to the bare bones of the squad. We had 18 players to pick from today so we've got to be careful in terms of how much or how little training we do.
"Pascal [Chimbonda] is going to be another couple of weeks, as is Dave Symington. Danny Livesey pulled his calf this week, Mark Gillespie had an operation on his knee and Josh Morris has now got concussion. Paul Thirlwell has to be nursed through each week and he's had another couple of injections just so he could get through the game. Hopefully we'll start to see an improvement on that side of things soon."
"We saw a team in Walsall who play a similar style to what we're aiming for," he agreed. "They've been doing it for a couple of years and I've said before that it will be a slow process for us. It's going to be a learning process for all of the players. Even today, when that wasn't working we were going into Lee Miller far too early. When he did manage to flick it on there was nobody there to get on the end of it. The big positive is that we've got an honest group who are prepared to tell each other when it isn't going well."
"I didn't see the sending off coming as such but they were getting in behind us far too often," he insisted. "I was going to take Courtney [Meppen-Walter] off because I thought his lack of football over the past year or so really showed today.
"I told him at half time he needed to open his body more and be on the half turn so he could see the ball, the man and the runner. We saw for the first goal that he can get himself too square and let the man run behind him.
"When you're playing with confidence and your team are in control of the game your fitness is easier to deal with. We were under pressure a little bit today and I thought his fatigue really showed. We do have to remember he's a 19-year old lad. He really wants to learn and improve and games like this will do him good in the long run. We will see mistakes from him at times because that's the nature of a young player. The important thing is how quickly he can rectify them."
"It could have been a different outcome if we'd scored the penalty and we're disappointed for the fans who made the journey to see us," he commented. "They really got behind us again and we could hear them singing throughout the whole 90 minutes, which they always do. It was just one of those days where it wasn't going to happen for us.
"We're all looking forward to the game on Boxing Day now and I'm sure the fans will turn up in their numbers. We have played particularly well at home but Preston are in good form, even though they lost today. It will be a good test for us but we've played well against the teams at the top end of the table. It's a game where the players know they won't be able to let their foot off the gas so it's one that I'm sure they'll perform well in. We'll all be asking Santa for three points, I'm sure."