BURTON Albion midfielder Chris Palmer pointed to a key decision going against them and a failure to convert pressure into goals as the reasons why his return to former club Wycombe Wanderers ended in disappointment.
A 3-0 defeat at Adams Park resulted in back-to-back League Two losses for the Brewers for only the second time this season following Tuesday night’s 1-0 reversal at home to Aldershot Town.
The fact that the last two results came against teams struggling at the foot of the table will only have increased the frustration following a run of just three defeats in their last 17 matches in all competitions.
The turning point came in the 56th minute, with Albion central defender Zander Diamond adjudged to have tripped Chairboys striker Matt McClure, who had given the hosts a 13th minute lead.
Referee David Webb pointed to the penalty spot and also sent the Brewers skipper off.
Winger Joel Grant converted the spot-kick and Albion were left with a mountain to climb.
McClure then wrapped up victory for the hosts in the 63rd minute to ensure it was a miserable afternoon for Albion and Palmer on his return to Adams Park having played for the Chairboys between 2006 and 2008.
He admitted: “It’s disappointing to come somewhere where you’ve played before and, you know, not get the result you’re looking for.
“Obviously, it was unfortunate that we’ve gone a man down, but I thought we were still in the game up until the penalty and stuff.
“It was difficult to take, but there’s not a lot you can do about it, you’ve just got to crack on and go on to the next game now.”
The midfielder felt both the penalty decision and the sending off of Diamond were harsh, saying: “To be honest, I didn’t think it was a penalty.
“I’d have to see it again, but it just looked like it went across his body and he just went shoulder to shoulder.
“Obviously, he’s gone down and I definitely didn’t think it was a sending off — I thought Damo (left-back Damien McCrory) was definitely covering round.
“It was unfortunate, but you just have to keep going, and it was just unfortunate that they scored the penalty, and then they got a third.” The Brewers dominated the first half in terms of possession and pressure, but they went in at half-time a goal down thanks to McClure’s 13th minute goal.
The striker knocked down a long ball into the path of Grant and although Albion keeper Dean Lyness managed to keep his effort out, McClure was on hand to fire home the rebound.
However, with Albion’s last 17 goals having come in the second half of games, Palmer was quite rightly optimistic his side could have turned things around after the interval.
“Everyone was disappointed that we’d gone a goal down but, like we’ve done a lot this season, we still felt we were in the game at one-nil,” he said.
“We were fully confident that if we’d been able to get another chance and take it then we would have been able to go on and win the game.
“To be honest, this is probably one of the worst Wycombe sides that I’ve seen in recent years so, you know, we were more than confident that we could come here and get a result, and obviously we’re disappointed not to do so.”
Speaking about his side’s inability to turn pressure into goals on Saturday, Palmer said: “I think it was just the reaction — obviously they reacted quicker than what we did – and I think the gaffer said that in the dressing room.
“You know, we had a lot of chances, a lot of balls have gone across the box and a lot of set-plays, so we need to capitalise on that.
“If we’d have scored one of them, it probably would have come out a different result, but it’s just one of them that you’ve got to take on the chin and move on, and hopefully we can win the next game.” Palmer would have been relishing his return to Wycombe having cemented his place in the side in recent weeks after coming back from an ankle injury picked up in the 1-0 win at Rochdale on September 8.
He marked his return as a substitute at Plymouth Argyle on November 6 by setting up both goals as Albion came from behind to grab an unlikely victory and has not looked back since.
He set the Brewers on the way to victory in their FA Cup first round replay victory at Altrincham by firing in a stunning free-kick to give them the lead and has looked dangerous in a position on the right of midfield which has been a problematic one for Brewers boss Gary Rowett all season.
The former Gillingham midfielder has relished a run in the side and has backed the Brewers to bounce back when they travel to League One Crewe Alexandra in the second round of the FA Cup on Saturday.
He said: “I feel fit to be honest. I’ve been out for a while and it’s good to have got a lot of games under my belt, and I’m feeling quite good, so hopefully that can continue.
“Crewe are a very good footballing side, they did well last year.
“But we’ve done well against bigger sides this season, so we’re confident going into any game, and then after that we’ve got to look up into the league and try and get some more points on the board to keep us in the top seven.”