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MANAGER: It just wasn't to be

8 March 2014

Manager on the Port Vale game

Manager Graham Kavanagh spoke to us shortly after full time following the disappointing away day defeat against Port Vale. 

"It's a very disappointing afternoon in terms of the result," he agreed. "I thought the lads gave it their all but it just wasn't to be today. We battled away even though we probably didn't play as well as we have done in recent weeks."

"We didn't pass the ball well enough on what was a difficult surface," he continued. "We created enough chances to go two up but we didn't take them and we got caught with a sucker punch. We had a great opportunity to score and they went straight up the other end and scored themselves. You could see that it affected the morale of the group. 

"I know it's a cliché but goals change games and today was a classic example of that. They were probably the better team during the first 20 minutes. They were more direct than us and we struggled to pass the ball. But we looked defensively sound and we got our goal from the set-piece."

"We went in at half time with our tails up" he commented. "We had a good week of training and the lads were feeling confident. It felt like we would push on. We started the second half well and created some good chances. They were getting deeper towards their goal which was very pleasing from our point of view. 

"I looked around at one point and they were ready to make all three substitutions. At that moment we had a chance with Nobsa [Liam Noble] when he could have slotted it into the bottom corner. Instead they went up the other end and scored. That's how small the margins are in football. It's tough because we've got a very young group who are giving it their all." 

"Their first goal was a long ball down the side and their lad cut inside and we sold ourselves a little bit. We spoke about that this week. We knew their wide lads would be dangerous and we worked a lot on trying to force them down the line. 

"I think it comes down to a little bit of desperation because we wanted the win so much. We have to remember we've got a makeshift defence with players playing out of position. It worked last week but it didn't work this week."

"The main disappointment I had today was that when we went 2-1 down we became disjointed as a team," he revealed. "I wanted to change it to a 4-4-2, but we ended up being a 4-2-4 with the wingers pushed right onto their full backs. That meant they were able to pick up every second ball."

"We could have made the gap between ourselves and the bottom four five points tonight so it is an opportunity missed," he admitted. "We'll have to dust ourselves down and go again. On many occasions this season we've pulled a performance out, when we've stuck together as a team, and that's what we need on Wednesday night. 

"We've got a big week coming up but it was always going to be that way. It's disappointing that we haven't been able to take anything away from today but we've got a good opportunity to put it right against Sheffield United."

And on the subject of bringing new players into the fold, he said: "It's easy to get players in but we need to get the right players in who are going to make a difference to the group.

"I've been working tirelessly on it. I've been up and down the country, watching as many games as I can, but at this time of year nobody wants to really let their players out. We'll keep working hard and trying to improve but we also have to work with the players we have. They've shown in the past they're very capable of playing well and they need to produce it again. 

"We'll try and get some bodies in to freshen the group up this week. I'll be on the phone this evening and tomorrow and we'll see if anything happens next week. 

"We do want to extend the loans of Danny Redmond and Jordan Pickford. I've spoken to Wigan, who are happy for us to carry on with Danny, and that's great. Jordan is happy to stay with us but we're waiting to see what happens with their goalkeeping situation. He could be pulled back at any time. 

"We're still waiting on Mark Gillespie so having Jordan here would help with that. We certainly need him to be playing for as long as possible between now and then. 

"Charni [Ekangamene] should be back with us next week as well, which adds to the numbers. He was called back by Manchester United for one of their development fixtures and we think he'll play for them on Monday but be in to train with us after that, and we can go on again from there."

On the substitution of James Berrett, he said: "Bez picked up another injury, which is a bit of a nightmare. It isn't the same problem he's had. I think it's a problem with his quad. I'm not sure if it's a strain or if he's got a dead leg. The fact that we kept him on for a few extra minutes probably didn't help, but I didn't have a lot of options. 

"I could have brought Jack Lynch on but he hasn't played in four months. I was worried about his fitness because there was still a large period of the second half to play. That would have been a little bit unfair. I decided to go with a bit more experience with Lewis Guy. That nearly worked, because we did create chances, but we just couldn't put them into the back of the net."

"Pottsy [Brad Potts] and Nobsa worked very hard in the middle today," he said. "They scrapped for every ball but they lack that bit of experience that someone like Bez or Paul Thirlwell gives you. 

"I think everybody needs to be cleverer when it comes to defending as a team and making sure we're compact. We've definitely got a lot to work on and there is a lot of disappointment in there at the moment. We'll prepare right and make sure we go into the game on Wednesday in a good frame of mind.

"I'm not really bothered about who we're playing because every single game is important. We know where we are in the table and we know what we need to do to move away from it. We certainly know that we need to perform better in the key moments of games. We did for large periods today but we became ragged and disjointed. That just won't be accepted."

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