NIGEL Clough made no excuses after Derby County’s defeat by Burnley.
“We have been good going forward and we have been good defensively. Against Burnley, we were poor in both areas,” said the Rams manager after Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Pride Park Stadium.
Derby went into the game having suffered only one defeat in six matches and having conceded only three goals, but errors led to Burnley’s two goals in the first half.
Danny Ings scored the first following a solo run on which he was unchallenged.
Ings’ strike partner Sam Vokes got the second when Kieron Freeman failed to deal with a cross and Will Hughes failed to clear.
“We were very disappointed with the defending first half, which was uncharacteristic of us this season,” said Clough.
“When you go one down after 14 minutes at home you are up against it from that point.
“Then we gave away another goal. The second reminded me of the goal we conceded against Leicester City when we had two or three opportunities to deal with it, and didn’t.”
Freeman struggled at right back first half and was replaced by Adam Smith at half time.
“We felt both goals came from Kieron’s area of the pitch and he should have done better,” said Clough. “But it is about the team as well, and we never seemed to get going.
“It seemed to be one of those days when everybody, supporters and everybody just seemed to turn up and almost assume we were going to get three points.
“Football is not like that, it is much harder and you have to give Burnley a bit more credit than that.
“We didn’t feel like that because we knew how hard Burnley would make it.
“They set up to make it very difficult for us and if you give goals away, you are never going to give yourself a chance.
“Second half, for 25 minutes, we were very good. We had chances to get back in the game, the penalty being the most obvious one.”
Referee Andy Madley awarded Derby a 64th-minute penalty but Johnny Russell saw his spot kick saved by Tom Heaton.
The decision to give the penalty was extremely harsh because Burnley skipper and former Rams defender Jason Shackell appeared to win the ball cleanly when he tackled Chris Martin.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche said: “In the last two weeks I’ve seen two unreal decisions, the like of which I have never seen in my career, which is a long one.”
Clough added: “I didn’t think it was a penalty but having had six turned down this season that we thought were penalties, we’ll take it.
“It was a key moment in the game. Had we scored that, who knows how the game would have turned out?
“We probably didn’t deserve anything out of the game but if that had gone in maybe the pendulum would have swung in our favour.”
Derby have failed to convert five of their last six spot kicks going back to March.
Jeff Hendrick’s absence through injury and Paul Coutts’ selection saw Derby change shape from the 4-3-1-2 system they had been using to 4-4-2 with Coutts on the right and Jamie Ward the left.
“We started like that to try and get Wardy at Kieran Trippier, who is also a big threat for Burnley going forward. We did not want to leave the flanks too exposed,” said Clough.
“We had a lot of the ball, we just didn’t play with enough purpose in the early stages.”