Manager Keith Hill reflects on his side’s 4-3 defeat to AFC Wimbledon at the Crown Oil Arena…
“The controversy [surrounding their 95th minute penalty] was higher up the pitch when Ian Henderson was fouled and there was nothing given,” said Hill in his post-match reaction.
“There were a couple of challenges that referee allowed to ride. And when a referee does that, they are always catching up with themselves. I’ll have to look back at the penalty decision, but it has been costly.
“We put an attacking side out and we scored the goals, but we looked vulnerable defensively. I’m looking at key players today and they should have been defending better than they have done. That’s unfortunately the recipe that you have when you’re in the position that we are – you score the goals and you concede them.
“It’s a difficult one to stomach because I [was reasonably happy] with a lot of the football, the attacking intent, the way we probed, and the way that we went in front and equalised. I thought there was good character on the pitch, a lot of good energy and a lot of good performances, but some of the decision making with that energy has got to have more intelligence. If we get the intelligence and the balance right, then we’ll be okay.”
He continued: “Three mistakes on the trot lead to their goal just after half-time. You’re in the red zone and the players are aware of the situation. There’s more energy out on the pitch during those times in the game. You clear your lines from kick-off and you make sure you either keep possession or turn the opponent, and we did neither.
“It’s disappointing that we looked quite vulnerable and a little bit naïve, running out of position instead of using our brains which is the decision making. We said before the game that you’ve got to take away as much of the stress and the anxiety from the players as you possibly can. It’s not and it wasn’t a must win game but you’ve got to show the appetite and the desire that it’s a must win game. It wasn’t that in a nutshell or a six-pointer, but we had to show the performance levels that it was and I thought we did. But with that pressure we have to show better decision making.
“Going forward, I thought the midfield players were excellent and I thought the strikers combined well. We created a lot of energy, got down the sides well and over the top, and I thought their goalkeeper made some good saves, one from Rekeil [Pyke] especially.
“I’m relatively pleased with a lot of the performance but the key area of the pitch, in defence, we should have done better.
“Every point is essential and something you can build on and build with, but we’ve lost two at home now after the win at Walsall. We’ve scored three goals tonight but none against Coventry so from an attacking point it’s good, but against Coventry we looked better defensively so it’s getting that balance right. From an attacking point of view, I thought we were excellent tonight the whole package didn’t transpire. We work on things during the week but they didn’t transpire tonight - there were a couple of pieces of the jigsaw missing.”
Luke Matheson left the pitch visibly upset at the full-time whistle and Hill believes the game will be a valuable learning curve for him.
“You’re going to get hurt playing football or any sport and you’ve got to put yourself out there. I think it will be a valuable learning curve for Luke but at no point do I hold Luke Matheson responsible for us losing that game tonight. I put Luke on the pitch because he’s good enough and I trust him. If it’s anybody’s responsibility, then it’s mine. If anybody wants to hit anybody with a stick, then do it to me. I play Luke Matheson because I believe in him and he has the full support of me and the players, so there’s no need for Luke to get so emotionally so upset. He’s an excellent young player and he’ll thrive while making mistakes. We can’t be perfect – I don’t know one person who’s perfect.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow.