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Post Bristol Rovers | Matt Taylor

16 September 2023


Post Bristol Rovers | Matt Taylor

16 September 2023

Boss Matt Taylor spoke to the media following our defeat to Bristol Rovers.

Town looked on top and in control for the best part of 70 minutes at the Croud Meadow and arguably should have had a second-half penalty when John Marquis bundled over Chey Dunkley.

But referee Tom Reeves waved play on with Marquis then putting Rovers ahead just 60 seconds later. Aaron Collins then grabbed a second for the visitors in stoppage time.

Speaking to the media post-match, Matt discussed his team's display, the Dunkley penalty call and the performances of Max Mata and Dan Udoh who showed signs of a promising partnership up front.

On his assessment of the game: 

"I felt we were comfortable in the game - we most definitely had the better moments up to the point at which they scored. That goal was avoidable but we weren’t ruthless enough in the final third.  

"We created 12 chances and we haven’t scored again, we’re getting in those areas, we were on top for the majority of the game until they scored. 

"We concede a goal from a mistake, and it puts a pin in all the hard work that we’ve been doing. 

"I accept that now we haven’t scored enough goals so we must look at that, accept that and address that. 

"The players are understandably upset that we’ve lost a game of football where I feel it should be a 0-0 at worst for us. 

"Joe (Barton) and his team will be happy, it’s the perfect away performance for them, they’ve hit us on the counter attack and scored from a set play. 

"For large parts of that game we were in total control. But when you’re in control like that, you have to score, and we didn't.

"I think that’s the last three games that we haven’t scored and that’s a concern because I feel we have players within the squad who are capable of scoring. 

"So, what we have to now is make sure when Tuesday night comes and we get those opportunities - we take them.

"That’s on us as a group of staff, that’s on the players as a group - not just the forward players, the players as a group.

"We need to be better in those final third entries, but then we also need to be better at understanding the state of the game.

"We didn’t understand the state of the game well enough.

"What I mean by that is when we’re in the ascendency I think a minute after Chey Dunkley gets grabbed by the neck and thrown to the floor for what in my opinion is a penalty - the perpetrator puts the ball in the back of the net. 

"But that’s football I’m not complaining about the referee, I’m just telling you factually what it looked like and that’s the hand we’re being dealt with at the moment.  

"I totally understand the supporters’ frustration, I believe they should understand that our frustration is obviously huge, we’ve got to own that now as a group of staff, I’ll own that now as head coach and the players need to perform on Tuesday. 

On things coming together: 

"I’d like it if we were not having these conversations about 'are we getting closer?'

"I feel that the players understand what we’re asking them to do, they understand their roles, their responsibilities both in and out of possession.  

"But then when those big moments arise, whether that’s in our box defensively or in the opposition’s box offensively, we’ve got to be better.

"That ultimately is the game and I look there - what did Rovers do better than us? They took their chances and were more ruthless, we didn’t. That’s the game.

"The build between both boxes is obviously important but we need goal scorers in their box and we need people and players that are willing to do whatever it is to stop them from scoring.  

"There’s a lot for us to address, one thing I will say is that it’s imperative the players perform on Tuesday night because we’ve got to get back to positivity and winning football matches. 

"The frustration from the supporters is because we’ve lost 2-0 at home, that’s not good enough and I totally accept that and understand that so therefore we need to make sure we’re better. 

On the fact all the goals we have conceded in League One have come in the second half:

"It’s something that we’ve flagged up in the last three or four weeks.

"We’ve tried to change the training schedule which means that we're asking different things physically from the players than we were. 

"I think when you concede goals and having played in many football games where that has happened - it's mentality.

"Players get tired maybe they switch off, maybe they aren't doing what they were doing in the first half.

"Of course it’s a concern because it’s a trend. We’re far enough into the season now to understand that trends are starting to appear.

"But regardless of whether you concede goals, we’ve got to score goals, that’s the most important thing for me.  

"We’ve got players, I believe, who can do that and have done that this season, so we need to get back to doing that and doing that very quickly. 

On Max Mata and Dan Udoh showing signs of a promising partnership: 

“Yes, totally. I thought the chances and the opportunities we had we weren’t clinical.  

“I think we are fortunate in that we have, what I would class, as four very good strikers for this level. 

“Dan and Max got the shirt today. I thought Max, for the first 45 minutes was really good.  

“And then, understandably due to his lack of football, he wavered slightly. 

“Kieron and Ryan came on. I thought Tom Bayliss’s reaction to being left out of the team was positive in terms of how he made a difference when he came on. 

“We understand it’s a squad game. The players understand that.  

“But what we have to do now is - whatever team I pick on Tuesday night – the players need to seize those big moments.” 

On Tom Bayliss starting on the bench: 

“It’s the worst part of this job – you have to make decisions that affect people. It’s tough. And that one was a tough call. 

“Any time you leave a player out it is difficult. I’m of the opinion those players need to understand why they have been left out. 

“And there will never be a player here that doesn’t understand what is expected of them and why they are not in the team. 

“Tom’s reaction was good. He was extremely disappointed. But I felt his reaction was good.  

“Ryan (Bowman) was extremely disappointed. But I felt his reaction was very good. 

“We haven’t got a huge, massive squad. 

“What we have got, I believe, are players that are in competition with each other for a shirt on a Saturday. 

“The challenge for whoever gets the shirt on Tuesday is to keep it for Saturday. 

“That’s always been the challenge for me when I was a player. If you get the opportunity to play – go and keep that shirt. 

“But yes, it is the most difficult part of the job leaving players out.” 

On facing Brighton in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday: 

“It’s really simple – we want to win that game of football. 

“What does winning do? It builds momentum. 

“We need to win that game of football. We will pick the strongest team we can to win. 

“My thoughts are it will be a cagey affair. And I hope that our players – and the lucky ones that are selected – go and perform. 

“Because, as I’ve said, we will take the competition seriously. 

“It will be a different test for us. A different game. And those that play need to keep the shirt.” 

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