After Rovers fell to their second consecutive home defeat by one goal, in Friday night’s televised Lancashire Derby against Preston North End, a frustrated Jon Dahl Tomasson reflected on his young side’s last minute, 2-1 defeat to their neighbours, who have now won on four of their last six visits to Ewood Park.
“That defeat was a bit of a nightmare, wasn’t it? We’re extremely disappointed to lose the game. When you look at the overall performance of the game, we shouldn’t have lost, tonight. We created plenty of opportunities to win this game, but football can be cruel. We didn’t deal with their attacking threats and the chances that led to their goals, well enough. We know that Preston are very physical, they utilise crosses, long passes and set-pieces and they win a lot of second balls, particularly during transitional phases of play.
“The two goals they scored are the only moments where we didn’t deal with Preston and it cost us. However, if you look at the opportunities and chances we created, this young team have done a lot of good things and played with a great attitude. We created plenty of chances to win, tonight and we probably should have earned all three points. Our lack of conversion was disappointing, as was the fact that we’ve lost, not only another home game, but a derby game, in-front of more than 20,000 supporters.
“We have to be more clinical. Firstly, we need to create the chances, which we’re creating a lot of. We’re top of the standings for chances created, but we’re also bottom of the league for the conversion of those chances. This is just part and parcel of a young group learning on the job, but I would have also liked us to deal better with the chances that the opposition create that lead to the goals that we’ve conceded.
“We’re frustrated with the manner of the defeat. I feel a bit sick, to be honest, but we can’t change the result now. Of course, conceding so late in a game hurts even more. Although a lot of our wins have come away from Ewood, a lot of the good performances have been at home. It sounds crazy when I say we’ve put in an ‘excellent performance’ because everyone wants results, but if you look at the overall performance and the chances we’ve been creating, I think, more or less, every game we’ve lost here at Ewood, we could have won and we probably should have won if you look at the number of clear cut chances and the expected goals that we create here.
“Harry Pickering got injured at Norwich City. He was feeling his thigh at half-time, but said he was happy to continue in the second-half. He wanted to help the team, but in the following days, he was struggling with it, so he wasn’t ready for tonight, but he should be ready for the first game back after the international break, away at Stoke City. We are very stretched, so it’s great to know that he will be back after the break, but we do need more players back fit.
“We have a lot of good talent throughout the football club. I like to work with these talented players who have all improved since I joined and continue to improve the more we work with them. We also know that football is a ‘man’s sport’, which requires a certain level of physicality where you put a tackle in and maturity to aid your decision-making, and some of the players are learning that on the job. However, I think they’re all doing a great job for Rovers, but despite the amount of players we have sidelined, we have a small group that’s playing who are doing a lot of good things, who have been producing some great results in recent weeks.
“It’s brilliant to see Sammie (Szmodics) top of the league for goals. He probably should have had a second tonight, after he went one-on-one with the goalkeeper. He’s done really well this season and I’m pleased for him.
“I’m extremely pleased that we have the break now, because it helps us get players back to full fitness. When you have a small and stretched squad who are not used to playing at such an intensity so often, this break is incredibly important as it gives us two weeks without games which allows us to keep the players up to speed and maintain their physical loads, but also the opportunity for those who are out to return.”