Despite putting together some highly encouraging periods of play against Rochdale, it was hard not to feel a little concerned about the nature of the defeat. The goal conceded was avoidable while we struggled to test the opposition keeper even when we were playing at our very best.
With just one win from our opening six league games, this team is now in a position where there is pressure to pick up wins and points over the next few weeks to relieve some pressure while players are still trying to figure out each others’ games and build confidence.
At both ends of the pitch, the performance against Rochdale could be characterised as careless. From the decision-making and shot-taking in the final third to the nature of the goal that we conceded to lose the game, the players didn’t seem aware of the importance of taking individual chances or maintaining defensive focus would have on the outcome of the game.
At the back, it wasn’t just about the goal conceded coming from the team being caught cold from a quickly-worked short corner routine, it was that Rochdale could easily have made the scoreline more comfortable, with further chances coming from avoidable situations such as thrown-ins and our attempts to play out from the back. Without playing particularly poorly, we could potentially have been on the end of a drubbing.
Of course, this game felt more defined by our inability to convert promising situations into clear-cut chances. The key period of the match was during the first-half when we realised there was space to be exploited out wide via Brandon Mason and Jack Grimmer making enterprising runs from full-back. Not taking advantage during that period allowed Rochdale to re-organise and nullify the threat we had been posing.
While it’s a positive to see your team have sustained periods of dominance, games are decided via key moments and not the overall pattern of play. That is why players need to be ruthless in taking chances, they might not come again.