‘We didn’t deserve to lose the game’
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.