Lyt­tle left to be­moan ‘sloppy’ sec­ond half per­for­mance

The Sligo Champion - - SPORT - By DAVID GOULDEN

SLIGO Rovers man­ager Ger Lyt­tle be­moaned his side’s sec­ond half per­for­mance against Sham­rock Rovers on Friday night, de­scrib­ing it as ‘sloppy’.

Goals from Dy­lan Watts and Gary Shaw sen­tenced the Bit O’Red to their third de­feat in five games as Rovers failed to build on their win over Bo­he­mains a fort­night pre­vi­ous.

Lyt­tle says he was pleased with as­pects of an open­ing half in which David Caw­ley struck the cross­bar, but says his side lapsed in the sec­ond 45.

“I thought we con­trolled the game in the first half”, he told the Sligo Cham­pion.

“But in the sec­ond, we didn’t do the things we were do­ing well. We were sloppy and some of our pass­ing, espe­cially from the back, we gave away the ball far too easy.

“We played some nice stuff at times. I said to the boys be­fore the game that I didn’t want a moral vic­tory.

“I don’t want to come down here, play well and get beat. There were pos­i­tives but at the end of it we didn’t win the game and that’s dis­ap­point­ing.”

For­mer Shams man Mikey Dren­nan lead the line for the vis­i­tors and was re­spon­si­ble for Rovers’ only real chance in the sec­ond half.

But Lyt­tle con­ceded that his team’s shape, or lack of it, didn’t help mat­ters.

“Our dis­tances were all wrong be­tween the lines. Our mid­field­ers were too deep and on top of our de­fend­ers and that cre­ates a mas­sive gap be­tween the mid­dle and Mikey.

“He’s hav­ing to fight for balls on his own and come back and that meant we were un­der the cosh. There were a cou­ple of things that didn’t go the way we wanted in the sec­ond half. But that’s the na­ture of the game.”

The Dublin­ers hit the lead on 66 min­utes when Watts reg­is­tered his first goal for his new club.

Sham­rock Rovers sup­port­ers aren’t known for be­ing the most pa­tient breed and Lyt­tle says their opener was enough to keep the home fans be­hind the Hoops, which drove them on.

“You have to take your chances and not con­cede. But we did and when they go one up they get the crowd be­hind them.

“I thought that was their plan, to keep the crowd be­hind them. That gave them a lift. I think we’ve lost the game as much as they’ve won it.”

Rovers were re­duced to ten men be­tween the goals. Seamus Sharkey shown his sec­ond yel­low hav­ing tan­gled with Aaron Bol­ger.

With at­tack­ers Raf­faele Cre­taro and Lewis Mor­ri­son on the bench, Lyt­tle de­cided to keep four at the back by in­tro­duc­ing cen­tre half Pa­trick McClean, while with­draw­ing goal threat Dren­nan. A de­ci­sion which puz­zled much of the trav­el­ling sup­port.

Ger ex­plains: “We were down to ten men and down a de­fender so we’ve had to make that de­ci­sion. We’ve put Paddy on and tried to be brave and went with two up there and went for it. We fin­ished the game with the ball in their half and we’re on their backs but it didn’t work out.

“Liam Ker­ri­gan and Dar­ren Collins gave us fresh legs and no fear.

“That’s what you get from the younger lads. Liam is do­ing well for the un­der 19s and Dar­ren scored dur­ing the week against Pat’s and they both have a chance of mak­ing it.

“We thought with the way Liam can come off the wing he could have an af­fect. There were times in the first half when we were asleep when the ball came across from our wide men on the blind side. So we thought Liam might be able to pull across and be on the end of one of those balls.

“We went two up top with Dar­ren up there and a di­a­mond be­hind him. We thought we’d try and flood the mid­field, get two up top and just leave the wide ar­eas.

“Raff didn’t train on Friday through ill­ness so that’s why he wasn’t in­volved.

“Hind­sight is a won­der­ful thing. If Dar­ren comes on and bangs one in then you’re man­ager of the month.

“On Lewis, we’re work­ing with him at the minute on his fit­ness and sharp­ness and that’s some­thing we need to con­tinue with.

“If there’s young lads on the bench who can ask ques­tions of Shams, then I’ll use them. I don’t care who’s on the bench. So these things work and some­times they don’t.”

Lyt­tle also touched on the pos­si­bil­ity that the can­cel­la­tion of the Dun­dalk game ten days ago, due to the Li­ly­whites’ Euro­pean games, af­fected mo­men­tum fol­low­ing the win over Bohs.

“I think it played its part”, he con­sid­ered.

“It was dis­ap­point­ing be­cause we were com­ing off the back of a good win and you want to get back on the horse and go again. We played a friendly but it’s not the same. The game be­ing called off was baf­fling for me. But we can’t make ex­cuses. We had a week to pre­pare.”

Mid­night tonight (Tues­day) marks the clo­sure of the sum­mer trans­fer win­dow.

Rovers are cur­rently with­out a recog­nised right back in the squad ow­ing to Gary Boy­lan’s long term in­jury.

The club will be al­lowed sign any unat­tached play­ers that may be­come avail­able after tonight, but Lyt­tle has all but given up on hope of adding any ex­tra bod­ies be­fore this week­end’s games with Derry City.

“If it hap­pens, it hap­pens. We’re look­ing at one or two but I think we’re done”, he said.

Rovers travel to the Brandy­well for their league meet­ing with the Candys­tripes on Friday be­fore wel­com­ing Derry to Sligo for Mon­day’s EA Sports Cup semi-fi­nal (kick-off 5pm).

For Ger, it’s very much ‘first thing’s first’ as Rovers look for a re­peat of June’s win over Kenny Shiels’ side.

“It’s a cliche, but the fo­cus is on Friday. That’s the most im­por­tant for us now.

“We need to win games and that’s the bot­tom line and we’ve a mas­sive game com­ing up with Derry on Friday. We have to go there and try and win.

“Yes, we’ve done well up there be­fore and it was prob­a­bly our best per­for­mance of the sea­son. We seem to have an OK record against them but Derry are a good team who had a good re­sult on Friday night.

“It’s go­ing to be tough for us but we’ll give it ev­ery­thing and hope­fully we get the rub of the green.”

Lee Grace in ac­tion against Mikey Dren­nan dur­ing the meet­ing be­tween Sham­rock Rovers and Sligo Rovers. Pic: Harry Mur­phy/Sports­file

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