Caretaker boss Gav Skelton gave us his thoughts on the home defeat against Tranmere shortly after full-time on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s frustrating and disappointing,” he said. “I don’t think there was too much in the game, we expected that, we had a lot of attempts but didn’t work their keeper or get them on target enough.
“That’s the confidence thing, we had crosses but didn’t have the conviction or belief to work the keeper and punish them.
“We were pleased to get to half-time all-square, and we actually could have been in front in the first 15 or 20 minutes. We spoke about starting again and making sure that we played at a good tempo.
“That’s their first away goal, an own-goal, and that’s the way it’s going for us at the moment. But the lads have got to dress themselves down, we all do, because there are a lot of positives to come out of it in terms of their effort, commitment and how they stuck together.
“Once we get a goal, I know we keep saying it, but it’ll change. People might not believe it, but it does.”
“A lot of it is in the head,” he continued. “They’re disappointed in the dressing room. If we ask if they could have given any more - I don’t think they could have given any more.
“It’s just that final bit, the ball bobbling around the box, someone to go and smash it, a midfielder drives through and instead of just smashing it and seeing what could happen, their goal comes from a cross, an own-goal. It’s that type of thing.
“When we got our chances we wanted it to be perfect, and we were a bit edgy. In situations players have to stand up and be counted. They’re the only ones that can turn it, assisted by us. If they keep working hard and believe that they’re the ones that can turn it around, it will happen for them.”
On the disappointment of conceding so early in the second half, he commented: “I thought it was a first goal game. I felt we were in control in the first half, we knew they might have a bit of possession the way they play and set up and it turned out like that.
“But we didn’t feel under any danger, and that showed with how many attempts at goal they had first half. We started well with a couple of shots but we need to build that momentum, and pressure, to really get the crowd behind us, and that’s where the players will get the confidence to grow.
“Like I say, we spoke at half-time about how we were pleased with the performance, and we thought we’d get the first goal and kick on from there.
“Tranmere are a good side, you could see that, unfortunately they’ve got a goal from an own goal and it’s backs to the walls a bit in terms of that confidence. We had a wobble for three or four minutes after that and the penalty is a great save by Mark [Howard].
“We composed ourselves a bit but we come back to the same thing, it’s the confidence that isn’t quite there at the moment. When driving through have a shot, don’t drop it off to somebody, when a cross is coming in, go and attack it, don’t wait on anybody else.
“There are the small margins in football. At one down Jordan Gibson probably should score, I thought he was a real bright spark first half, and they go up the other end and miss a penalty. You think that’ll give us that lift.
“They really are small margins and unfortunately we’ve come out on the wrong end of it. Just from what we’re talking about here you can tell we had plenty of action round the box, without that quality we needed.
“The lads are wanting it to be perfect, not to make a mistake. Fortune favours the brave sometimes, sometimes just lash it and it’ll go in the top corner, or ricochet into the goal like it did for them. They wanted to do everything so right, things sometimes go wrong because they’re trying for it to be so perfect.”
A much-improved performance, despite the result, came in part from the adoption of a 4-4-2 formation.
“We wanted to get two up top and cause them problems,” he explained. “We were conscious of Jay Spearing picking up a lot and recycling, which he did, and that’s something he’s good at.
“We wanted to be able to start attacks on the other side of it when it wasn’t going his way. At times that worked for us and at times it didn’t.
“We tried to strip it back, keep it simple. At times the shape was good, they had lot of possession on halfway but didn’t really look threatening. We’ve watched quite a lot of them and how we’ve worked this week, it comes back to that first goal.
“Their keeper made a good save from Zach, there’s a couple of crosses, go and attack it, or it bobbles. An own goal. They had one where it comes off his foot and it goes out for a corner for us. It’ll change, I know people won’t think that at the moment, but it will change.
“The way it’s gone today, their first away goal and win, that’s sport for you. When it’s not happening it’s not happening.
“That’s where you have to keep your head up, keep going, ignore people when you’re getting criticised – even though it’s totally understandable with the position we’re in and at times the performances we’ve given – but we have to stay strong, and if you do the team will get you out of it, not individuals.”
And on what was said after the game, he said: “You can feel sorry for yourselves, and blame other people, and step back, but we spoke about that before the game. We’re not about that.
“I watched the youth team yesterday, they played as a team. If your mate makes a mistake don’t criticise him, you back it up to make sure the mistake isn’t highlighted.
“They have to keep sticking together, they can’t fall apart, they have to think something will break and we can get confidence from it.
“Everyone is disappointed because they felt they were in the game against a good side, so it’s disappointment at the result, perhaps not the performance.
“The fans were the same. They stayed with us and they wanted us to get the result. We just needed to give them that goal or a bit of momentum, they were dying to stay with us.
“They were very good. Just disappointed we couldn’t give them anything to go home with.”
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