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Neal disappointed by manner of defeat against Blackburn

Manager's post-match reaction

28 February 2018

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Neal Ardley told his players that he expected them to have more of a go at League One leaders Blackburn after the visitors ultimately proved too strong on the night.

Speaking during his post-match interview for iFollow, Neal said: "I've been honest with them, I told them it was not good enough. I've told them how disappointed I am that on a Tuesday night against the league leaders we've not given it a real go in my opinion. I will get around the boys on Thursday and Friday, try to pick them up, so that we bounce back. In football you lose games and you don't play well, but it's how you bounce back that's important. We did it a couple of weeks ago and we need to do it again.

"Part of me felt we were out-classed at times, but part of me felt we did not have enough of a go. On a cold Tuesday night, conditions were difficult and I thought there was nothing in it until they scored. It was a poor goal to give away. You work hard with your team to limit a side that are good going forward and to make sure they are not creating anything and they didn't in the first-half. They scored a goal from a second phase set-piece, which is poor.

"In the second-half we were trying to get into the ascendancy, to get more attacking threat and runners into our play, but the second goal knocked the stuffing out of us. Goals change games and I thought after that we went flat the more it went on. The third goal ended the game and at that point we had Saturday in mind. With the players Blackburn have got, we have got to play above our levels and everyone has to be at it, but that wasn't the case. Mentality was going to be key. Theirs was top drawer, but ours wasn't good enough. They've only lost one game in a long time for a reason. They have quality all over the pitch, goals in them, and they are a very athletic, powerful team. I am as flat as our fans though and I expected us to have a right go at them.

Neal expects Darius Charles to be back for Saturday's home match against Charlton Athletic and he added that the half-time withdrawal of Andy Barcham was tactical.

"We are hopeful that Darius will be back for Saturday," said Neal. "We felt we got the centre-back pairing right on Saturday, but against Danny Graham, who is one of the best at being a target man in the league, we thought we needed Robbo to play in there. They cleverly moved Bradley Dack up to centre-forward and Graham out to the left wing. He played on Barry a bit and we never really solved that problem.

"I felt the ball was coming back too much in the first-half and we did not have enough to build off, so we wanted to bring Joe Pigott on. We did not get enough joy out of it. They dealt with it and we did not have enough answers."

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