Lambert: We Were Comfortable, We Should Have Done Better With the Equaliser
Sunday, 1st Dec 2019 17:29
Boss Paul Lambert admitted that his side should have defended Coventry’s late equaliser better and felt Town had been comfortable despite the Sky Blues throwing everything at them in the final quarter of an hour of this afternoon's 1-1 FA Cup second-round stalemate.
Callum O’Hare netted Coventry’s leveller four minutes into injury time, coincidentally the same point in the game that Alan Judge scored Town's winner in their first-round replay at Lincoln in the first round.
“I thought we were comfortable in the game,” Lambert said. “Coventry threw everything at us in the last 15 minutes or so but I still thought we were really comfortable.
“We should have done better with the equaliser, but I was really happy. There were a lot of good things there.
“I’m happy with a lot of aspects of the game. I’m not happy we have to play another game, a replay. But we’re still in the hat, which is good and we’ll try to get through.”
Asked about the big positives from the match, he added: “I think Will Keane did really well, he got his goal. Judgey [Alan Judge] was starting to look himself again.
“I thought [Andre] Dozzell and [Flynn] Downes were excellent together in the middle of the pitch. Some really good things there.
“Will Norris is a top keeper. [Jon] Nolan I thought was very good. There was a lot of good football we played, a lot of good passages of play, a lot of good football, we get the goal and then we lose the equaliser.”
Quizzed on whether Keane is getting back to the top of his game, Lambert said: “Hopefully, he’s a goalscorer, Will Keane, he’s a terrific finisher. He makes really good runs in the box. And even in training when you watch him and he goes through on a one-v-one you think more than likely he’s going to score.
“On the goal he got across the front post. He is a terrific finisher, Will Keane, he really is. If we keep him at it and hopefully with no injuries he could be a big asset.”
The draw means the Blues will have a midweek game for a sixth successive week and Lambert admits the number of fixtures is not what he would have wanted.
“Yes, but we’re still in it,” he said. “It’s not ideal having a replay, conceding a minute before the end it’s not ideal. They have to come down to us on a Tuesday night, a long trip. We’re still in the cup.”
St Andrew’s, which has a capacity of 29,409, was virtually empty with only 2,878 fans present. Did the lack of atmosphere make it difficult for his players?
“Is that what is was? I don’t know,” Lambert reflected. “It’s a hard one to answer. Our fans were great, they keep going, they keep singing, they come up in their numbers to watch us.
“Coventry’s situation I don’t really know too much about, other than that this is not their own ground. It’s a tough one. It’s not great. When there are a lot of blue seats it’s not great.”
Asked whether the Blues will be sick of Coventry by the time they’ve played them for a third time in 10 days’ time, he added: “Three times, it’s not ideal but you have to play them.”
Although he didn’t want the replay, the additional game does give those players working on getting up to full match fitness another match and also helps to keep those on the fringes and not involved in the League One side happy.
“That’s one way to look at it,” he reflected. “Guys are coming back from injury, so that’s one way to look at it but it’s still not ideal that you get a replay, especially when we were so close to putting it to bed.
“The other good thing is that the draw is tomorrow, if we’re fortunate to get through we might just get one of the big ones, which I think would be great for everybody concerned, the fans, the players, the whole club.”
Regarding Flynn Downes wearing the armband and in doing so becoming the youngest captain in the club’s history, he said: “I think he’s been playing really well. I think he’s been great for us since the start of the season.
“You’re never quite sure whether people can handle a captaincy. Whether he takes it on later on in his career or short-term, nobody knows.
“It’s a lot of responsibility being a captain, but he’s certainly merited having it because he’s a really good player.”
“Is he a potential long-term captain for the club? There’s a lot of responsibility being a captain. If you ask me whether he can do it, I’ve got no doubt he can do it.
“Some people are uncomfortable being a captain. Some people are not too sure about it. Some people thrive on it. Some people take it over the top, but if you ask me about his temperament, could he handle being a captain at a football club the way he is and the way he is playing? Yes, he can do it.”
Prior to the replay - which is expected to be Tuesday 10th December - the Blues will be back at St Andrew’s next Saturday for the League One game between the teams. Does he anticipate a match similar to today's?
“I really don’t know, I don’t know if that’s normal for Coventry," he considered. "About 5,000 for League One games, is that right? Our own crowd will come in their numbers again. It’s difficult to say because I don’t know Coventry’s situation regarding normal league games is.”
Asked whether of the three games the League One match is the one he wants to win most, he insisted: “You want to win them all. I never go into any game thinking wanting to win one game in preference over that one or that one. You want to win them all, whatever game you play.
“We’re in competitive sport, you play to win, you don’t play to prioritise, you play to win and if we can win we’ll give it all we’ve got to try and win. We’re playing well enough, that’s for sure.”
Coventry boss Mark Robins was pleased with the number of opportunities his team carved out as well goalscorer O’Hare.
“The fact that we created a lot of chances was something else,” he told CoventryLive.
“The fact that we’ve opened them up at times, that we’ve created a really good number of chances and that we’ve been on the front foot, when we could do, against a really good side is pleasing.
“Callum has done it again and it’s a stunning goal. He’s run off the back and taken an extra touch and there is a couple or three times before that where they have just got a toe to it and it’s hit his shin and bounced down and away from him just as he was about to pull the trigger.
“We’ve had some really good opportunities to score and just not taken them, which is frustrating. The fact they had one chance, and that we gave them the chance, they take it and score with one shot on goal is really frustrating.
“But the character we showed again to comeback was really good. They forced us to change the way we play, their counter-pressing was as good as anything as well – above the level.
“What we needed was work-rate and people to work hard to try and get off the back of them a little bit and Callum’s introduction made sure we were able to do that and he made the difference. It was a stunning finish and it keeps us in the hat.”
Robins was disappointed with the goal his team conceded:”We couldn’t get a foothold in the game early in the second half.
“We gave the ball away a couple of times and we dropped deeper which puts you on the back foot mentally.
“We spoke at half-time about trying to move the ball quicker but also finding players and where they were positioned was important.
“Then we forced it. Kyle McFadzean is the most experienced one. He gets it out of his feet and tries to shift the ball out wide and it’s not on.
“It gets cut out, they attack down the left-hand side, the ball comes in and Will Keane is in the right place at the right time to put the ball in the back of the net.
“We kept going and things started to turn around for us. It looked for all the world that we were playing a back five with three midfielders and two strikers and things were starting to break down.
“It wasn’t like we were really isolated. We ended up being able to break out quite well. We have to be braver and not worry about the opponent because the quality is there. It’s just doing it against the top teams and trying to turn those draws into wins.
“But come back again from a losing position to get a draw in this competition is huge. We’ll find out who we have got in the hat, which might be a good draw, and it might add a little bit of spice, so let’s see.”
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