Goals from Shaq Coulthirst and Emmanuel Sonupe cancelled out Bersant Celina’s opener for the visitors, but the defensive frailties Matt spoke about before the game appeared once more in first half stoppage time as Angel Tasende snatched a leveller after we failed to clear our lines at the edge of the box.
We pushed forward in search of a winner in the second period, ultimately without success, leaving Matt – who led the team in the absence of Ugo Ehiogu – to reflect on what might have been.
“Given the way we played in the second half, particularly in the first 20 minutes of that period when I thought we were outstanding, we could perhaps have taken more from the game,” he said.
“We asked for a lot more urgency at half-time and the players gave us that, but the disappointing aspect was the counter-attacks. We had a lot of overload situations with four-v-two or five-v-three where if we’d picked the correct pass or had slightly more detail on the pass then we would have created more goalscoring opportunities. We probably should have won it in that period.
“To be fair, though, I thought the group mentality to defend all over the pitch was far improved. The intensity of our closing down caused them a lot of problems but I’m still disappointed with their two goals in terms of our defending around the penalty area. I thought we were a bit lazy with our blocks and not bright enough to react to the second balls so we spoke about that at half-time and, in the second half, that aspect of our play was greatly improved.”
Matt was also pleased with the way the players responded to going a goal down.
“We showed fantastic character individually and collectively with the reaction to their first goal,” he added. “It was similar to one of the goals against Chelsea last week as it came in a period when we were on top of the game and we should have done better to stop the cross and to defend the middle of the goal, but the boys got straight back on the ball, we created chances and we took our goals really well.
“They were two outstanding strikes but, at 2-1, the frustration was that we didn’t add to that and then we had another moment right on the stroke of half-time where we conceded a very sloppy goal.”