‘We didn’t de­serve to lose the game’

The Sligo Champion - - SPORT - By JES­SICA FARRY

SLIGO Rovers man­ager Ger Lyt­tle has warned that his side must not drop their per­for­mance lev­els fol­low­ing their 2-1 de­feat against Dun­dalk at Oriel Park on Fri­day night.

In what was one of Rovers’ best per­for­mances of the sea­son, they fought hard and were some­what un­for­tu­nate to come away from Louth with noth­ing.

Lyt­tle con­ceded that his side did not de­fend suf­fi­ciently dur­ing Dun­dalk’s move, which lead to Pa­trick Hoban scor­ing the late win­ner in the 88th minute.

“We’re dev­as­tated. I don’t think we de­served it, I don’t think we de­served to lose the game,” the Rovers boss said af­ter­wards.

“We didn’t de­fend prop­erly, let’s be hon­est. We didn’t stop the cross and we didn’t de­fend the six yard box. Af­ter putting in such a hard shift and do­ing all the right things and de­fend­ing the right way for large parts of the game, it was just that wee lapse at the end. We’ve given the ball away in the mid­dle of the park, we haven’t re­trieved it, we haven’t stopped the cross, we haven’t de­fended the cross.”

Dean Jarvis’ goal-line clear­ance pre­vented a cer­tain Rovers equaliser in the last sec­onds of the game, but Lyt­tle says they can take en­cour­age­ment from their per­for­mance, de­spite get­ting noth­ing.

“I’m re­ally dis­ap­pointed for the boys be­cause some of the play was de­cent too. They’ve cleared one off the line late on, it’s ac­tu­ally hit the player in the face he knew noth­ing about it.

“On an­other night that could’ve gone it. We need to get the wee breaks at the end. I think we should have had an­other stonewall penalty that we didn’t get but I think we have to take a lot of en­cour­age­ment from that per­for­mance.

“We’ve spo­ken about it in the chang­ing room, we can’t put in a per­for­mance like that against Dun­dalk and then drop our lev­els the week af­ter - it has to be a con­sis­tent thing.”

Lyt­tle had no com­plaints about the penalty awarded to Dun­dalk on the night when Pa­trick McClean chal­lenged Dy­lan Con­nolly.

“I think it was a penalty. I’d like to see it again but my first re­ac­tion was there was no need for Pa­trick to go down. It’s a big rule as a de­fender to stay on your feet in the box. He’s went to ground and ob­vi­ously the boy is quick and he’s got a penalty so I think it was a penalty.”

There was no penalty for Rovers when Caolan McAleer clashed with Gary Rogers, and Lyt­tle felt that was a def­i­nite penalty.

“I think that’s a stonewall penalty. Every­body thinks it’s a stonewall penalty. Those are the wee things that don’t hap­pen for you but we’ll take a lot of pos­i­tives from tonight and hope­fully bring it into Tues­day night.”

Chelsea loanee Mitchell Beeney was solid between the posts for Rovers on the night, a num­ber of ex­cel­lent saves kept Rovers in the game un­til the end.

“I thought he had a great game. We were talk­ing about the goal and he’s kick­ing him­self in there be­cause he feels he should have come for it, again we’ll look at it, but I think he has to take a lot of pos­i­tives.

“He’s start­ing to come into his own, he’s start­ing to play a lot bet­ter and he feels more con­fi­dent. Hope­fully he will grow, and he’s get­ting games and en­joy­ing him­self.”

How­ever, the Bit o’Red still strug­gled to cre­ate chances, an is­sue that Lyt­tle says they will con­tinue to work on.

“I’ve said it and I’ll con­tinue to say it we need to cre­ate more chances and it’s some­thing we’ll keep work­ing on.”

The for­mer Cliftonville man­ager said his play­ers need to be­lieve in them­selves more, in or­der to trans­late Fri­day night’s per­for­mance to the so-called ‘more winn-able’ games.

“It is pos­si­ble (to trans­late that com­mit­ment to games from which Rovers are tar­get­ing three points). We have to show a lot of be­lief, I re­ally don’t think our boys be­lieve in them­selves enough. The man­ager does and the coaches do. The boys need to start get­ting that be­lief.

“We played on Tues­day night and had a de­cent game against Water­ford. We played there tonight and had an­other de­cent game. We’re start­ing to play a lot bet­ter in terms of pos­ses­sion and at­tack­ing. We’d like to score more goals and cre­ate more goals, but we have to take a lot of pos­i­tives from tonight and bring it into Tues­day night.”

Rovers form away from home this sea­son has been bet­ter than their form at The Show­grounds.

At home, the Bit o’Red have played nine, won two, drawn one and lost six.

Away from home they have played seven, won two, drawn two and lost three.

The Bit o’Red sit eighth in the ta­ble for home form, and sev­enth in the ta­ble for away form hav­ing played two fewer games on the road so far this sea­son.

“It’s strange and we can’t put our fin­ger on it be­cause last year we were so good at home and so bad away from home and now it seems to be the op­po­site. We’re work­ing on that and we’re hop­ing that we can put on bet­ter per­for­mances at The Show­grounds. It is a tough place to come for teams that don’t like com­ing there and you’ve got to make sure it’s tough as well by putting in tough per­for­mances. Hope­fully that will change.”

Lyt­tle has come in for crit­i­cism re­cently from Rovers fans and com­men­ta­tors alike, par­tic­u­larly fol­low­ing the Bohs de­feat.

He has pleaded with fans to re­main pa­tient.

“I know what this club needs, I knew what it needed be­fore­hand. I just took over last year and we stayed up and we’re try­ing to build. You can’t build a team in a year or half a sea­son.

“It’s go­ing to take a sea­son or two to get our stamp and the play­ers we want to at­tract. The bud­get comes into that as well. It’s such a tight league and there’s not many play­ers that you can grab, the top-end play­ers are ob­vi­ously with top-end clubs, Dun­dalks and Corks.

“We tried to talk to them, we tried to sign them but they were way out of our tar­get. I think we need to be re­al­is­tic.

“We did win the league so many years ago and I know Sligo sup­port­ers are spoilt be­cause of it.

“I be­lieve I can get this club back to that stan­dard but I just want the fans to have pa­tience with us be­cause if they don’t, it’s go­ing to re­flect on the play­ers on game day. If they stay pa­tient and trust in me and trust in what we have and what we’re try­ing to do, we’ll get there. I have huge be­lief in my own abil­ity as man­ager and a coach, and an eye for a player but we need to be a wee bit more pa­tient.”

Rovers travel to Inchicore tonight (Tues­day) where they will b e hop­ing for three points.

“Fin­gers crossed. Can­dles will be lit over the week­end and hope­fully we can go down to Dublin and get three points. That’s the tar­get.”

Pa­trick Hoban fights off Kyle Cal­lan-McFad­den to score the win­ner. Pics: Piaras Ó Míd­heach/ Sports­file

Rhys McCabe bat­tles with Ro­nan Murray.

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