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Roundup: Clarke and Smith post Cambridge United

28 February 2021

Darrell Clarke was pleased with the commitment efforts and improved performance that his side showed, despite falling to a late defeat at home to Cambridge United.

An 85th-minute wonder strike by Liam O’Neil proved to be enough to see all three points go to the U’s and after the game, Clarke said: “It is a tough one to take. It is a great finish by the lad, an absolute worldie. As soon as it hit his foot it looked like it was going in.

“I am frustrated that we have not got anything out of the game. The lads' commitment efforts were fantastic again, but lacking that quality at times in the final third when we have got the ball in there whether that be a finish or a final pass.

“We were lacking that little bit of creativity in the right areas when I think we have got the ball to those areas a lot better, but not quite finished it off.”

Following the disappointing result in which the Valiants would have felt hard done by to not come away with a point, Clarke revealed that it is now up to him to make sure that the team’s confidence levels do not drop.

“It is a low changing room, the lads care. You can see that since I have been in the building.

“They care about losing football matches, they want to do well so I have got to get the balance right making sure that the confidence of the players does not drop to the levels where they look edgy or look nervy.

“I think one or two have done over the last two, three games if I am honest with you, so I have got to make sure that the confidence stays at the right levels and make sure that we don’t let negative thoughts in their head and we just concentrate on the next game. Each win, lose or draw, we reset and go again.”

Meanwhile, defender Nathan Smith admitted that the late winner was a “kick in the teeth” after having worked so hard throughout the 90 minutes.

“To fight as hard as we have, to play as well as we have compared to recent weeks and to come away with nothing is a massive kick in the teeth and to be done so late on by such a goal when it does not give you much opportunity to respond and score one yourself, it is gutting.

“The lads are feeling that now, but we have got to go away, rest up over the weekend and we have got another game Tuesday, so it is probably the best scenario so we can correct the wrong that has happened today.”

Yesterday’s encounter was Clarke’s third game in charge of the club and when speaking on what the 43-year old has been like since his arrival Smith said that they could not ask for anything better in terms of their defensive set up.

“I think the lads are buying into who he is and what he wants. He has come in, he knows exactly what he wants, he knows how he wants to play, and he tells the players exactly that.

“His detail on the training ground is unbelievable to what we have been up to and I don’t think we can ask for anything better to set up defensively and it has shown on the pitch.”

Finally, when looking ahead to their visit to Salford City on Tuesday night, the 24-year-old said: “I think when you lose on a Saturday, the first thing you want is a game on a Tuesday just to right that wrong and that is what we have.

“We have been given the opportunity and we need to take it both hands and get some points on the board.”


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