Lambert: You Can't Give Teams Two-Goal Starts
Saturday, 14th Dec 2019 18:21
Boss Paul Lambert blamed Town giving Bristol Rovers a two-goal start before getting going following the Blues’ 2-1 defeat to the Pirates at Portman Road.
Tyler Smith and Tom Nichols put the West Countrymen two goals in front before James Norwood pulled one back for Town, who had chances to find an equaliser but ultimately were unable to find the net again.
“You can’t given teams a two-goal start and then start to play in the game,” Lambert admitted.
“We started the game well and it was a poor goal from the throw-in and then we lost another poor goal for the second.
“And that brought us to life and from thereon in we had a good strong end to the second half, we should have had one or two back.
“We got a great goal ourselves. In the second half it was basically all us, we tried everything to score but it didn’t happen. We tried everything to score.”
He added: “It doesn’t matter what type of football you play, it’s always difficult [if you give the opposition a two-goal start].
“We went for it, we went for three lads up top, we went for everything we could but you can’t give anybody two goals as a start. It’s tough.”
Town’s early season success was built around a strong defence and succession of clean sheets Lambert was unhappy with the manner of the Pirates’ goals.
“The first one’s poor because it’s from a throw-in, that was a frustrating one,” he said. “The second one, we had the ball, we were comfortable with the ball and we lost it and the cross came into the back post and their lad put it in.
“That gives you that jolt and we responded really well. We got a really good goal, then chances left, right and centre, they were getting blocks in and defended really strongly. There’s still a helluva long way to go in this league, that’s for sure.”
Regarding Rovers skipper Ollie Clarke’s red card for a second bookable offence when he entered the field of play after treatment without permission from the referee, Lambert said he was unsure of the precise detail of the dismissal.
“I don’t know whether the fourth official told the guy to go on, I don’t know, I really don’t know the situation, I’ve just seen the guy coming on, whether they get told [I don’t know],” he said.
“I never saw the referee [wave him on] unless the referee’s given him [an indication I’ve not seen] to come on, but I don’t know.”
Overall, there were similarities with the performance against Coventry at St Andrew’s last Saturday when Town dominated the first half but ultimately without claiming the victory.
“I said that yesterday, the game’s about winning football matches,” he reflected. “Saturday [against Coventry] we could have been three of four up and it never materialised, the game’s 90 minutes, 45 minutes is not enough.
“Today we had most of the game and, at the very worst, it should have been 2-2 at half-time with the chances that we had.
“We tried everything in the second half, we limited them to no real chance or any real chances on the counter-attack, we dominated the ball from halfway.
“The lads tried everything, the lack of effort that we had on Tuesday, it was totally different from that.”
Town’s home form has been disappointing all season - their record reads won three, drawn four and lost two - with the Blues having picked up only 13 of their 36 points at Portman Road. Over the last six games they’re 19th in the League One home form table.
“No, too many draws,” Lambert admitted. “Not enough wins at home. Away from home we seem to be winning or getting good results.
“But, as I said, there’s a long, long way to go, there’s a helluva long way to go, there are so many twists and turns. We’re in a good position, the guys are disappointed but we’re in a good position still, we’re still in a good position. There’s a long way to go.”
What does he put the disappointing home form down to, opposition teams coming to frustrate?
“Yes, but that’s normal, any big club you’re at, any big club that’s got a fanbase you expect that. You have to be big enough and brave enough to handle it,” he said.
“I’m used to it, the guys, some of the lads will be used to that pressure, some of the younger ones will be a little bit different but it will make them better players.
“It takes a big player to play here, just because of the size of the fanbase. But it’s a great place to play, the atmosphere’s great, you can’t ask any more from the supporters. Everybody gets disappointed but as long as everybody sticks together, that’s the most important thing.”
Is patience vital in those circumstances, both on and off the field? “Yes, because there are so many games still to play, an incredible amount of games. As I said before, there will be twists and turns and bumps along the way.
“It’s important that the team remains focused on what they’re trying to achieve and if we can do it this year it will be brilliant because not many teams bounce back.
“If you look at the table, you look at other results, it’s incredible. Accrington beat Portsmouth 4-1, I think Rotherham lost.
“It’s a really tough league, really tough. But we’re in a good position, we’ve a game in hand but we need to start to win.”
Lambert confirmed that Janoi Donacien dropped out of the side due to illness: “Janoi wasn’t well, we just got informed this morning that he wasn’t well, he woke up with a virus which was disappointing, so we had to kind of rejig it a little bit. But there were a lot of good things there.”
He says that meant he was forced to change his team selection more widely than just at right-back where Cole Skuse filled in.
“I had different things in my head this morning and then Janoi’s thing changed it a little bit so we had to move one or two of the lads," he added.
“That’s why sometimes I don’t name the team on the Friday because anything can happen during the night. I can’t fault the lads for their effort.”
There were muted boos at the final whistle but Lambert’s message to fans is not to panic, despite the Blues going through a tougher patch - they have now gone four league games without a win and seven matches in all competitions without a win over 90 minutes - after their impressive start to the campaign.
“Stay with it, don’t get into the mode it was a few years ago,” he urged. “Enjoy the journey, enjoy the ride, it’ll be up and down but it’ll be exciting.
“We might not win every game but it’ll be exciting and don’t get caught into the apathy or anything like that. Everybody knows the disappointment, everybody knows it.
“It’s a fabulous fanbase, it’s got incredible support behind it, but stick with it. As I said, there will be twists and turns, the guys, some of the younger ones, it can be a bit hard on them because you never know how young ones react in front of it, and the young ones will certainly need the support.”
Rovers boss Graham Coughlan praised his side’s commitment and determination to hang on for their victory.
“I’ve got top, top players,” he said. “Bodies on the line, blocks. They go out and put their bodies on the line and the crowd respond to them and the crowd respond to then. Sheer honesty and sheer hard work and that’ll get you places.”
The Irishman felt the red card hampered them in the latter stages and was unwarranted.
“We had good organisation and structure and the sending off killed us,” he added.
“I don’t think it was a necessary sending off, you can’t hear anything and the fourth official had waved him on.“
Coughlan, whose side has now won four in a row in the league and are undefeated in 10 in all competitions, surprised reporters by calling his own position into question, with later claims he had told the club and the players he was leaving.
“I need to go home and sit with my wife and my kids this evening and spend some time with them," he said.
"I’ve got a decision to make with my own life and my own career with where I’m going and what I’m doing.
“I don’t know where I can take this football club. I’ve got decision to make personally. So I’m going to spend this evening with my wife and kids and see which way I wake up in the morning.”
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