‘We need to be braver on the ball away from home’
Jon Palmer spoke to Cheltenham Town boss Michael Duff after the last-gasp 1-0 defeat at Crawley Town
» Were you angry?
Yes. We weren’t good enough, particularly in the first half. We got better second half, but to get done on a scrappy goal, with so many details we got wrong. We lost the ball cheaply again, nobody stood on the ball, let the ball come in the box and knock down - a poor, poor goal to give away.
» Should it have been a 0-0 game, closed out from a match with few chances?
Yes. It was similar to the Morecambe game (0-0 draw), although Crawley were slightly better than us. They were better than us first half, but in the second half I thought we moved the ball slightly better. We have not created enough away from home again, which is disappointing.
» Is that because of what the forwards are doing, or the supply to the forwards?
It’s nothing to do with the centre forwards, it’s the supply. We have played four games away from home with five or six different centre forwards. It’s taking responsibility and being brave. We seem to be brave at home, but don’t want to quite make that angle or take the ball in a tight area. If you are not prepared to do that, you need to do the detail of the game better and we didn’t. It’s a simple case of standing on the ball and not letting them take it quickly, as they did to us. They did it once in the second half, we didn’t and they have won the game. That’s what the game came down to.
» Why did you have to pull Rohan Ince out?
Rohan felt his hamstring in the warm-up, so that was the disappointing thing. We had a bit of a nightmare journey here, that happened in the warm-up and we were really poor in the first half. You are thinking all that’s gone and you’d have been quite happy with a point, overall. It leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
» In the first half after 20 minutes you did seem to get more solid and you seemed to have weathered the start they had
The gap between the back five and the front two was too big. We needed to get the two centre forwards to drop off a bit, compact the pitch and then press from there. That’s all it was. They weren’t opening us up. They had a bit of the ball and a few corners, but I don’t remember Scott (Flinders) making any save of note, or their goalie.
» When the George Lloyd chance came and went did you think you might be able to force an opener?
We started the second half well and grew into the game. We tweaked a few things and said a few things at half-time and we looked better. But we still didn’t create enough and it’s difficult to win a game of football. Sometimes it comes down to really, really fine margins and their goal was that moment.
» There wasn’t a huge amount of pressure from Crawley, but does the lack of goals put that extra focus on the defence and one mistake might decide it?
It’s a team responsibility. Defend as a team and attack as a team. We have not scored, which is a team thing and we’ve conceded a really poor goal because it can be stopped at source. That allows the midfielders to front screen Ollie Palmer, which they did well second half. We didn’t stop the ball, we didn’t front screen, we didn’t win the first header, one mistake, two mistake, three mistake goal, usually.
» How far away is Max Sheaf?
He is a couple of weeks away, as most of them are.
» Was there concern over Rohan Ince’s injury before the warm-up?
I wasn’t aware of anything. He wanted to play, but he would have been restricted and you can’t carry players in this league. Not that we would have been carrying him, but he’d have been at 80 per cent and chances are, you’d also end up having to take him off. I took the decision out of his hands. I’ve been there, done it a warm-up myself and you don’t want to say anything. At least he’s had the courage to say it because he was desperate to play after so many false dawns in the last 12 months. It’s disappointing and if you look at the goal, you’d like to think if Rohan is standing in front of him Ollie Palmer doesn’t win that header. It’s all ifs, buts and maybes. The main thing is that we didn’t lose him for another six to eight weeks.
» You have had a nightmare run with injuries haven’t you, despite the no-risk policy?
It’s not a no-risk policy, if you are injured, you are injured. There’s no point running through it as you’ll only make it worse. We have been unlucky and it’s something we are trying to investigate to work out if there is anything we can do from a staff point of view, gym work or training. There will be no stone uncovered as to if there is anything, but sometimes you just get unlucky.
» That bravery you say is lacking away from home, is there anything you can do about that as manager?
Well, it’s my job to try. We have scored eight goals in three games at home and not scored in four away with the same players. It’s between their ears and that’s all it is. We have to try and find a solution somehow. I believe they are a good group of footballers and we need to do better with the ball and also the detail of the game. That’s the thing I am really frustrated with because it should have been another 0-0 and we would have thought it was a good point, despite not playing particularly well.
» Was Charlie Raglan close to having to come off after two collisions?
No, he was fine, Rags. He had a bit of blood on his head, but you get used to that as a centre-half. He wasn’t close to having to come off.
» Good to see Alex Addai back from injury
Yes, he felt his groin at Bristol Rovers and came off. You get them back in two weeks then rather than six to eight weeks. Once you tear things, you’ll never run off a muscle injury or get any better. Experience tells me that. It’s not a no-risk policy, you are either injured or you’re not. You might do that with an ankle, or a knock on your knee, or something like that, but not muscle injuries.
» Do you think Rohan Ince has avoided another long-term absence then?
Hopefully, but I don’t know what he’s done. We’ll have to assess him and he might be right for Saturday, it’s too early to say.
Charlie Raglan ended the game swathed in bandages after two clashes of heads
Gavin Reilly looks to get past Crawley’s Filipe Morais