By Chris Slavin
Neal Ardley felt it was a much-improved second-half performance from his players today and he believes the team are not far away from getting back among the goals.
Speaking during his post-match interview for iFollow, Neal said: "I thought the first-half was a nothing game. We were really nervous and I don't know where that came from. Results can sometimes make you feel that way, even though the performances have been good lately. We did not have enough pace and energy in us. At half-time, we said that we needed to get more tempo into our game and not be scared to lose it. I felt in the first-half neither team were doing anything. In the second-half the game was played mainly in Rochdale's half. I thought that we looked good.
"We had worked during the week on getting ourselves in the right areas to score goals and that area is in the middle of the goal between the posts. If you get in and around the penalty spot you are likely to get on the end of something. We certainly hurt them down the sides and we got at them. If you don't get yourselves into positions where the ball is going to drop to you, then you will not get a tap-in. I am really confident in the boys. I feel that we are a really competitive team and in the last four or five games I have not seen a team out-play us. Our defence was solid, in midfield we were competitive, and when we got the ball down and played in the second-half we were the better team."
Neal explained his reasons for making substitutions in the closing stages as he tried everything to get a late winner and he believes there are encouraging signs for the team to build on.
"We felt that we were doing the first bit right in getting crosses in and maybe that Darius could get on the end of them," added Neal. "Later in the game 'Barchy' was out on his feet. He had done so many searching runs that he could not lift his legs. He was feeling his hamstrings, which he has had problems with in the past and Harry Forrester is a really good player who offers something different. He comes off the line a bit more. 'Deano' was also very tired with 15-20 minutes to go and we wanted to keep that energy up because we felt it might drive us on to a goal.
"You feel the vibes from the fans that they can see how hard the boys are working, but you also sense the frustration with the lack of goals, we know that. You need to understand that when you are trying really hard to score a goal, sometimes the goal seems smaller to the players. That is what happens when it's not flowing, which is why we've worked on getting players into the areas where we might get lucky.
"We can only work on it. The boys are giving everything. There has only been once this season when we've been really poor and that was against Shrewsbury. Other than that, there's been nothing in our games. We need to score goals and win games. As staff, we have to support the players, coach them, and try to make that happen. The fans need to keep encouraging, as long as the effort and intensity is there. Keep encouraging, it can turn, and when it does turn we will feel good about ourselves.
"Somebody just said to me in an interview about 'this poor spell of form' in the last five games. We've won one, drawn two, and lost two. A poor run of form is losing five games on the trot and conceding four or five goals in games. We are having a go and giving everything. We are not a million miles away from a goal or two making a difference."
The full video interview with Neal after the game is now on our iFollow channel.