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Darrell Clarke | “We will pick ourselves up”

24 January 2023

Manager says hugely disappointed dressing room will respond after cruel late defeat to Derby County.

  • Darrell Clarke | “We will pick ourselves up”
  • Port Vale manager speaks to the media after his side’s 2-1 defeat to Derby County in League One
  • Clarke: “It is a tough night, for sure. The changing room is gutted, the staff are very low but I think we need to be proud of a lot of that performance tonight.”

Port Vale manager Darrell Clarke said the dressing room was despondent after his side fell to a late 2-1 defeat to Derby County on Tuesday night.

The Vale led through Funso Ojo’s first goal for the club before the promotion-chasing Rams scored twice in the final three minutes of the game so secure victory from the jaws of defeat.

Reflecting post-match with iFollow the Vale, Clarke said:

“It is a tough night, for sure. The changing room is gutted, the staff are very low but I think we need to be proud of a lot of that performance tonight.

“We will pick ourselves up; I said to my players in there to ask themselves if they can go home, look in the mirror, and say you gave absolutely everything, be honest with the man in the mirror and see what that comes out with. I think the majority of the players, certainly those who started the game, will come off the pitch and think yes, I was at it.

“We are a little bit despondent in there as you’d expect, losing a game in that manner, but we will heal our wounds and I have confidence in the group to pick themselves up and myself and my staff will do that too when we are back in on Thursday morning.”

Clarke felt his side could have controlled the game better in final ten minutes, having performed so well for the 87 minutes prior to Paul Warne’s side equalising through former Valiant David McGoldrick.

“It goes to show how far we have come as a football club that we are really gutted that Derby County - and a team of their calibre of players - have managed to pinch it 2-1,” Clarke explained. “Credit to Derby, they kept going, that is why they will finish in the top six, maybe even top two, but for ourselves it is a steep, harsh learning curve, that we have to control moments of the game better in the last ten minutes.

“When I watch it back – and I’ll have a look at it – there were a lot of loose passes, we lost control and when you do that, and you keep quickly turning over transitions, you are penned back in and we didn’t get that spell in the game.

“It is about keeping the ball at times in the right areas of the pitch to make sure that you’re game management is good which, to be fair to the boys, over a period of time has been pretty solid, but tonight I thought we lost too many transitions late in the game and when you do that against a team of Derby’s quality, they can punish you.

“They chucked more and more forwards on and we gave them the first goal through a little bit of loose play from ourselves. It is about hitting the right areas, getting the ball in the right areas of the pitch and then getting the control in their half of the pitch and we didn’t do that for the last ten minutes, and that is probably the disappointing aspect of the night for me because we could have seen the game out a lot better with control of the ball.”

Clarke added that he wants his side to let their disappointment settle this evening and tomorrow, before bouncing back ahead of the weekend’s trip to Cheltenham Town.

“The lads will need tonight and tomorrow with their families to get over that and I don’t want any sour faces come Thursday morning, when we’ll pick it up and build towards the next game,” he continued.

“We care, the group care, so we are hurting tonight – that’s a good thing – because if we weren’t hurting, I’d be a little more worried. The group is hurting and despondent but myself, the staff and I am sure our fans will pick us up and we will be ready to go come Saturday.”

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