Steve Cotterill reflected on today's game against Sheffield Wednesday.
Michael Smith scored a hat-trick as Darren Moore's side ran out 3-0 winners at Montgomery Waters Meadow.
Town competed well overall but just couldn't find that touch of quality when it mattered. In the first half, we saw a number of shots blocked while after the interval Chey Dunkley went close and Luke Leahy hit the bar.
Speaking post-match, Steve reflected on the game and gave an update on Rekeil Pyke and Christian Saydee - with both players playing against Wednesday following recent injuries.
ON THE GAME:
"We got plenty of effort which is what we always get.
"We've given away two poor goals and come up against a squad that's full of quality, that's it.
"And what they have got is a squad. The subs they make when it's later on in the game and you're thinking 'oh god, I hope he doesn't want to come on and be a bit livelier than the guys who have been there for 70 minutes.'
"They're just a side full of quality and that's why they're on 90+ points - which is normally good enough to go up (automatically).
"We haven't got that. We gave away a poor goal, we're one-nil down.
"They (Wednesday) then, to be fair to them and their character, they got in four great blocks in that first half, four great blocks.
"And that's another reason why they're on 90 points, because they've done those things.
"We always knew it was going to be a difficult game. Coupled with all the other difficult games we've had.
"We haven't had a week where you think 'okay, we're nice and fresh this week, we can play somebody that's in and around ourselves and have a week's build-up.
"Whenever we did that earlier in the season it was good and it was fruitful for us.
"With the run of games that we've had, whoever put the fixtures together certainly wasn't a Shrewsbury fan, because if you look at it, you could've almost said all of these teams are going to be in and around the top 10.
"And we've played all of them. Not all of them spread out, all of them back-to-back-to-back.
"There's never one where you think 'we should win today and we're fresh', on top of that with the injuries we've had to deal with, today we were as flush as we've ever been, certainly for a little while.
"The trouble is that they haven't all played and I think if you see Christian Saydee in the first half, Christian has been absolutely first class for us, maybe he'll be better for that first 45 minutes, but he just wasn't sharp enough, he wasn't sharp today.
"You need those moments from him, and we had a couple of those moments in the first half, where you need him to be sharp.
"For me, we're just playing against a side that's full of quality and no matter what you do and what you change, they'll find a way on the pitch.
"The bottom line is that they're too good for us. They're too good for us. That's where we're at."
ON THE PROGRESS OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS:
"If you think about when I first came in, we were joint bottom or second from bottom of the table and we were due to finish that season on 32 points if you worked out what it was due to be after 13 games.
"That means you're probably relegated by the end of January.
"It's been a long hard road recruiting. Recruiting, players then going, recruiting again, more players going, recruiting.
"We haven't been threatened by relegation all season, nowhere near it.
"We've been in that top 10 for 80-90% of the season and we've never once had to come out and look over our shoulder because somebody else has won today and all of a sudden we're a point or two out of the relegation zone.
"We've had times when we were two points outside of the play-offs in January, so when you look at how far we've come and you've been up there, all of a sudden things even out and we're disappointed because we're in mid-table.
"And that's probably right. I do think we deserve to be higher in the table than we are.
"I know everybody says the league table doesn't lie, and I've probably used that line myself over the years, but it just feels different this time.
"That's not me soft-soaping it or anything like that.
"I just think the shift that they've put in this season, I want it so badly for them to finish in that top half of the table and ideally that top 10.
"We need other results to go our way and we need to win both of our games and we know that where other teams have perhaps got a week's break, we've got to play again on Tuesday because Bristol Rovers had international call-ups."
ON WANTING TO WIN FOR FORMER WEDNESDAY PLAYER CHEY DUNKLEY:
"I wanted to win so badly today for Chey Dunkley.
"Whilst I want to win so badly for myself and for the lads and for the supporters, I see Chey Dunkley every day and I watch him every game.
"I really feel for him today, I really feel for him, but there's nothing more I could've done.
"Sometimes you look back on a game and think 'I wish I'd done this or I wish I'd done that' but I haven't got any regrets because I don't know what else there would've been that I could've done."
ON THE CHANCES WE CREATED:
"I think with a little bit more sharpness, a little bit more belief and a little bit more confidence – maybe they go in.
"But when we have had the run we have had and the lads keep getting banged on the head with defeats - it doesn’t matter what we say, somewhere along the line it will affect them.
"What we need to do is get ourselves in front and then go and get another goal.
"They you will see all of those players come back to what you saw before we hit the bump in the road – which was probably mid-March.
"It was going to catch up with us sooner or later. That is the reality of it.
"But we will be back in and working next week. We will see this all the way through and the lads will be committed all the way through.
"They were committed today. But the bottom line is we haven’t got the quality that they (Wednesday) have got. We haven’t got that. We just haven’t got it and sometimes it’s really, really, tough to stifle it.
"And then what you hope is there are no mistakes – you hope there isn’t a mistake anywhere."
ON REKEIL PYKE AND CHRISTIAN SAYDEE:
"The trouble is he (Rekeil) has done one training session. He has done one training session.
"And at the end there, you are expecting a little bit more from him but he has done one training session, Ricky.
"Saydee has done hardly any training sessions. And we have got a three-game week coming up so you have got to look at teams and how you are going to play and try and plan.
"It’s hard because you want to plan the week out with what you’re potentially going to do.
"It’s hard to do that at the moment. But the lads have tried and tried and tried. I can’t fault them.
"You hear a lot of the managers at the top clubs, you hear Pep mention about fighting – and you have got to fight all the time.
"You have got to fight and that is what we have to do until the final whistle is blown at Lincoln.
"If this club ends up in mid-table, it will be a big achievement. When you look at the sides that are down there at the moment and struggling.
"It's been tough, it’s like we have been going uphill for six weeks. Everything is uphill at the moment but we are tough and we will see it out."