NIGEL Clough laid no blame at the feet of Conor Sammon - or any of his Derby County players - following the 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace at Pride Park on Friday night.
The Rams suffered their first home reverse of 2013 as Republic of Ireland striker Sammon missed an 88th-minute penalty that would have earned them a draw - the least they deserved after dominating their high-flying visitors for much of the game.
But Clough - whose side are now without a win in six games - insists that there “won’t be any criticism” directed towards his squad.
He said: “The quality of our play was excellent and how we’ve come off the pitch against Palace with not even a point is disappointing to say the least.
“The lads are on their knees in the changing room, shattered and wondering what they’ve done wrong – and we’ve told them nothing at all, there won’t be any criticism coming from us.
“We created chances, hit the target, hit the bar, missed a penalty – but it was one of those nights and it’s more evident now than it has ever been that we need a break in both penalty areas, one off someone’s backside would be nice.
“We’re not getting one going forwards and the goal we conceded was fortunate to say the least, falling to their player after a 50/50 tackle.”
Sammon was handed the responsibility of the spot-kick after regular penalty taker Jamie Ward hobbled off just before half-time, but though Sammon hit the shot well, he was denied by an excellent save from Julian Speroni, who was in inspired form to deny the Rams on numerous other occasions.
Clough said: “Conor is our second in line to take penalties when Jamie Ward isn’t on the pitch, and although he isn’t having the best of times he stood up and wanted to take it.
“He was so unlucky and the blame doesn’t fall on his shoulders, we had more than enough chances and it pretty much sums his luck up – but he will keep working.”
The Rams’ six-game winless run has garnered just three points, but the Rams could arguably have as many as 12, having drawn games they deserved to win, and lost games from which they deserved at least a point.
Clough said: “We’ll keeping plugging away, won’t let our heads drop and we’ll ask the players to perform exactly as they have been doing, because they’ve giving us everything physically and in the quality of their play.
“The last two home performances, against Bolton and Palace, have been as good as we’ve played all season but we’ve come away with one point from a possible six.
“We’re having a tough run at the moment, but we’ll get through it.”