Mark Robinson summed up his disappointment after a second successive match without a goal, but he praised 19-year-old Ayoub Assal’s performance in defeat.
Our Head Coach said that the players must come up with solutions to find the cutting edge when they come up against sides with a steely defence – opponents Fleetwood having conceded just three goals in six matches before today.
Robbo said: “We had looked at how we were going to hurt them and have we hurt them enough? Probably not, but we got into good situations, and we didn’t do enough with the ball when we got into those situations. They threw their bodies on the line, most of our shots were blocked, and that’s what they are, so we had to find better solutions. We’ve got to find better detail. If you win 1-0 you take that because I think most of their defeats have been by that score-line. They don’t concede many goals, but by the same token any chances they had today – and their manager admitted that – came from our own doing, including the goal.
‘Nik knows what he has done wrong and I don’t want the fans to think that just because we are trying to play more that’s part of what we are doing. That’s never going to be part of what we are doing and Nik knows that, the same as when we are chasing goals I’m not looking for us to make four or five passes when we can put good quality crosses into the area.
“We are a work in progress and I have to maintain that we are not going to go long ball. We’ve been there, done that, and we were conceding three, fours, and fives. We are not doing that now, but we are fully aware that we need to find that cutting edge and find those goals. When you are in the position we are in, the final third is the hardest bit. That’s where players can get anxious, where they can have the extra touch. They don’t pull the trigger quickly enough. We need to keep them feeling confident, so that we find those solutions. On the rest of the pitch, apart from two or three areas where we overplayed, we played good stuff, but in the final third we need to get better and we will."
Robbo believes that the impact made by Assal in recent weeks provides an example of the way forward for Wimbledon in the future.
“Ayoub was brilliant,” added Robbo. “I got told by many people that the young man probably wouldn’t be able to play at this level. I thought he was fantastic, his energy is great, his detail is very good, and I am pleased with him. All the fans are interested in is points, and all we are interested in is points, but the average age of our team was just over 22 today. Although we are not where we need to be, we’ve lost games in the past with an average age of 28, 29, or 30, so there are positives. When the wins come everyone will feel brighter and I think the average age went down again when Zach (Robinson) came on. I realise that those positives are not clear when you are losing football matches. I’m fully aware of that, so we’ve got to start changing it.
“Every day it’s a pleasure to come in and work with the players. They are fully behind what we are trying to do, but I fully realise that we need points. We are fortunate that other teams have lost, so not a lot has changed. We will get back to work tomorrow and we will keep striving to add the final layers on and keep getting better at what we do. Even if we were winning games this is still a long way from where we know we are going to take this. We have minimal contact with the boys, and this is not me making excuses, but we don’t have loads of contact time to work on things in training. We’ve got what we’ve got, it’s the same players and I still maintain we’ve come a long way in a lot of areas. We are hard to beat, we are solid, but we know we’ve got to keep striving to add those important layers to bring the points home.”