NIGEL Clough bemoaned Derby County’s frustrating knack of conceding soft goals after the 3-1 defeat by Reading, writes Steve Nicholson.
“We are playing quite well but conceding poor goals,” said the manager.
“It is very, very simple, there is no complication. It’s not about tactics or formations for us, it is about making it too easy for the opposition to score.
“We are conceding soft goals and it is giving us a mountain to climb.”
Derby, goalless at half time, found themselves one down within two minutes of the restart and two down just after the hour. Reading striker Pavel Pogrebnyak scored both, the Russian’s first goals since January.
“It was 15 minutes or so out of the 90 we did not play well, and it was costly,” said Clough.
“The first goal came from a free kick. We lost the initial header, again – John Eustace got done at the far post.
“The ball bobbed around in the six-yard box and we had three or four players who did not react to it. It was similar to the soft goal we conceded against Leicester.
“We spent 15 minutes on Friday working on that exact type of free kick, so it is a little bit frustrating to say the least.
“I thought the quality of Reading’s set-plays was a problem.
“Danny Guthrie puts in as good a ball as anybody in the Championship and above. He has been doing that in the Premier League.
“We told the players to concentrate on not giving away free kicks, and we gave one away a minute into the second half!
“Johnny Russell has cost us the second goal when he was back defending.
“If you are going to come back defending, you have got to do better than that.”
Clough felt Derby played well in the first half first half.
“We did, but all the hard work and all the positive elements get lost in the result which is right when you lose 3-1,” he said.
“We created situations throughout the game, unfortunately when we got into some great positions we did not deliver.
“The two full backs each got into two brilliant positions which should have led to a possible goalscoring opportunity and we got nothing from them when forwards are waiting for a good delivery.
“There was so many good things about our build-up play.
“There was patience from the players and from the fans. I think if you are keeping the ball for the sake of it, then we all get frustrated, but we were keeping it with a purpose.
“We were probing, looking for that little opening. We moved Reading about the pitch and we found space, we just didn’t capitalise when we did.”