Taylor: First Half Fantastic in Game of Two Halves
Saturday, 7th Dec 2019 18:34
Assistant manager Stuart Taylor was delighted with Town’s first-half performance as they drew 1-1 with Coventry for the second week running in a game of two halves at St Andrew’s, but felt the Blues didn't keep the ball as well after the break and the display lacked the same ruthlessness.
“A game of two halves, 100 per cent, I think that was clear to see,” said Taylor, standing in for manager Paul Lambert, who was catching a flight back to Scotland, at the post-match press conference.
“The first half, we really dominated the game, we controlled it from start to finish.
“We were creative, we had good chances, we took one of them. But there were three or four that went past the post or came off the post. That’s football, we need to be a bit more ruthless on that side of things
“But we’re really, really happy with the way the first half went. We moved the ball about with a great intensity and a great purpose and we were creative and when we didn’t have the ball we pressed them really well, won the ball back.
“I thought our defensive shape was spot on, so the lads carried out exactly the task that they were asked to do.
“We came out in the second half, obviously Coventry had everything to throw at it and were willing to take a risk and they took their chance.
“That gave them a little bit of ascendency in the game and it became really open after that.
“So it’s a lesson learned for us. We’re a strong enough group to realise when we need to do better and we’re honest enough to go and admit that, but overall the first half was fantastic and we look forward to Tuesday night.
“We’re still in both cups and we continue on doing what we’re doing and hopefully we’ll get the right result.”
Asked why a game can change so much from one half to the other, Taylor said: “Who knows? Sometimes it happens like that. The second they probably started more on the front foot and we probably didn’t keep the ball as well as we did in the first half.
“But sometimes you’ve got to give credit, the home team are entitled to a spell in the game and when they had that spell in the game they scored their goal.
“So that was disappointing for us because we do look at ourselves and pride ourselves on clean sheets. We try and be creative and hopefully we’ll take our chances and keep clean sheets.
“We did everything today, just never kept a clean sheet. The home team are entitled to a spell in the game, they took their chance, they were ruthless but I thought our lads did very well in the first half.”
Town fielded virtually the same side as face Coventry in the FA Cup last week - Gwion Edwards replacing the injured Danny Rowe was the only change - when the Blues showed signs of the kind of performance they put in before the break today.
Taylor says that that display influenced the selection for this afternoon’s match: “It’s something we’ve always looked to go and do since the gaffer came in last season, we’ve always tried to play football in the right manner and be creative with it.
“We did it very well last week, obviously we did our homework on Coventry, looked at how they set up and how they do their business and I thought the lads were spot on in how they played last week, just apart from the last couple of minutes when we lost the equaliser.
“Yes, we did look at that last week and thought we’d do something similar. We expected them to make a change, which they did, hence the reason the first half went so well.
“We made a little change in the second half [moving to a diamond from 4-3-3], but I don’t think it made much of a difference but, as I say, home teams are allowed a spell in a game, that always happens, and they just took their spell in that goal and obviously they got in the ascendency a little bit.
“So there were loads of positives out of the game today, we didn’t sit back, we didn’t want to play out a draw, we wanted to go and get the three points and, as much as we were aggressive and attacking in the second half, we probably weren’t as ruthless as we were in the first.”
In addition to his goal, striker Keane hit the post and impressed with his touch and his lay-offs.
“He’s a real quality player, you could see that when he came in last season,” Taylor added. “It’s just unfortunate he had the injury.
“But he’s worked extremely hard to get back to where he is right now and everybody’s delighted that he’s back playing games, playing 90-minute games and scoring goals.
“Some of his touches in the first half were incredible, a real pleasure to watch and I’m quite sure for the lads it was a pleasure to be involved with as well.
“He’s a quality player, everybody knows that and I’m delighted that he got his goal today.
“He deserved a second [when he hit the post], it was just unfortunate that we didn’t have somebody there that was going to go and tap it in.
“At the time I thought it came off the post and was going to hit the keeper and go in, but it wasn’t to be for us at that moment in time.
“But it was really pleasing, the first half performance, great for Will to be getting opportunities and chances and really pleasing how we went about our game in the first half and popped the ball about.”
Regarding skipper Luke Chambers who missed out with a neck injury, Taylor said: “It started coming on a couple of weeks ago and he then just started feeling it over the last week or so, the last 10 days.
“But hopefully he won’t be out for too much longer, hopefully he’ll be back in the next couple of days.
“Danny Rowe’s picked up a little knee niggle from last week here. We’ve had him looked at, we’ve had him checked out. He’s had serious intense treatment and hopefully over the next couple of days we’ll find out exactly where we are with him.
“Emyr Huws took a knock in the Peterborough game during the week. His ankle’s swollen up from it. There’s no concern with it, but probably the game today came one day too early so we weren’t going to take a risk on him and just leave him be.
“He’ll be in training tomorrow with the lads, so he’ll get a good session tomorrow and we’ll see where it is with him.”
Cole Skuse was unusually on the bench, coming on in the 67th minute, having also suffered a knock at Peterborough.
“He came off at half-time, he had a knock on the hip, just in the higher thigh area,” Taylor continued.
“Again, with the way the lads played last week, there was no point in risking Cole and putting him in a position where he might come off again at half-time.
“We were happy with the performance last week, didn’t want to take the risk and just left it at that.”
Coventry manager Mark Robins was as pleased with his team's second half display as he was unhappy with their performance in the opening 45 minutes.
“To get from where we were, as bad as we were in the first half, to get as good as we got in the second half, was just incredible really,” Robins said.
“In the second half we were able to get that foothold in the game, then we could start to play. We couldn’t in the first half, we just went brain dead and didn’t think our way through it.”
He added: “They’re a good team, with good players and they put us on the back foot from minute one.
“They could have been out of sight in the first half, but they didn’t take their chances. But these are a top team and make it difficult for anyone.”
The former Norwich striker says Dom Hyam’s first-half injury led to a switch of formation from five at the back to four which he would have made at half-time in any case.
“It was a change that was going to be made at half time either way,” he added. “We needed to do things slightly differently.
“They didn’t really have a chance, I don’t remember a shot [in the second half]. We put [Amadou Bakayoko] down the right, and he kept [Luke] Garbutt quiet. All the threatening that they did, we soaked up and hit back with counter-attacks.”
Regarding the second-half bust-up between the two sets of players, including some of the subs, he said: “I’m pleading the fifth amendment!
“I didn’t really see anything. What I did see was that he didn’t really deal with the first incident, the foul leading up to that melee.
“Callum O’Hare was fouled and then Sam McCallum went to pick the ball up and got thrown to the ground but there was nothing in it and then he [the referee] was waiting and waiting to see who else he could book. But there was nothing in it really, just the proverbial handbags.”
Reflecting on the game overall, he said: “We looked strong. I thought we were really unlucky, we should have won that game.”
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