Neal Ardley said that the manner of today’s defeat hurt him and he added that his squad are simply not doing enough to win football matches.
Speaking to iFollow after the 2-1 defeat at Accrington, Neal said: “The first 35 minutes was as bad as we’ve been all season. I have to stop doing team talks before the game because last week we talked about the things we needed to be mindful of and today I said that their line-up was very attacking at home. I knew they were going to come at us early on. I told the lads, ‘let us be ready for that, let’s do our jobs, and win our battles’. Away from home, you need to do that. Then I watched as we did the complete opposite.
“It is disappointing, but we had to change shape to try and give us a foothold in the game. In a similar pattern to last week, it took until we were behind in a game to start having a go. We then had a go and looked like we could get back into the game, but then we conceded another poor goal.
“We are not doing enough of the stuff you need to win games of football, the good habits required. Our one versus one defending was not good enough and the energy in the first-half, we became disjointed, people were not holding the ball up well enough, and players were hiding from the ball. I will take responsibility for all of it. Accrington were better than us all over the park in the first-half.
“When you are chasing the game, you want the subs to make a difference. It was a great goal from Scott Wagstaff and Jake Jervis caused some problems, but it’s not down to individuals. It’s all about the collective and the fans that came all the way up to Accrington, digging in their pockets to get all the way up here to watch their team play. For 35 minutes, they watched a lifeless performance. That hurts me, I hope it hurts the players. At the moment, we are too inconsistent. When we are good, we are good, but at the moment we only seem to be good when we’re chasing games.”
The full interview with Neal is available to watch by clicking on the link to our iFollow channel above.
Neal took no consolation from an improved second-half display that almost yielded a point in the end.
“We just tinkered with the shape, gave them a bit more information,” said Neal. “I cannot change much: I can make substitutions, I can get stuck into the boys, give them some information. The only people who can change what is going on out there is the players on the pitch, that’s the truth of it. The manager might get credit for substitutions if they work, but it’s the players that change games.
“Ultimately, the players changed how they played and we became the better team, but we conceded another goal. We conceded a rubbish first goal and then conceded another poor goal after getting back into the game. It came from bad decision-making at the back, playing square passes. We then conceded a corner and we did not deal with that. You can say it was deflected, it was unlucky, and that kind of stuff, but you make your own luck.
“When you come out in the second-half and you are chasing the game you have to be foot-perfect. It’s hard to chase games at this level. We chased the game and created loads of chances. We only took one of those. It was a great header off the line in the last minute and we could be talking differently if that had gone in, but we need to be better without the ball as a team."