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14 August 2022



14 August 2022

Following our 2-1 defeat to Derby County in Sky Bet League One action on Saturday, Michael Duff praised his side's willingness to fight right to the end in tough conditions at Pride Park.

Two first half Derby goals via a Conor McCarthy own goal and a Nathaniel Mendez-Laing strike were enough to see off the Reds, despite a second goal in as many games for Josh Benson just after the hour-mark.

Despite conceding the two goals in the first half, our Head Coach felt his side's performance didn't warrant the scoreline going into the break.

"I thought we were good today," he opened. "Even in the first half, I didn't think we deserved to be 2-0 down. We didn't quite get the press right, but gave a poor goal away from a corner. I thought we had some really good chances in between the goals.

"Obviously, they've scored a good quality finish for the second goal. Got them in at half-time, they take on a bit of information, and I thought the second half we were totally dominant. I definitely think we deserved something out of the game."

Derby are widely tipped as one of the favourites to be promoted this season.

Duff believes the Reds can take encouragement from Saturday's performance against a good side in the Rams.

"We want to be competitive," asserted the 44-year-old. "I've said it all along, we want to be competitive. Where I found the group to where we are now, I think there are signs of spirit. I think there's togetherness. It doesn't always win you a game, and today it didn't.

"It's not going to happen overnight. You're not going to go from where the club were to where we want to get to overnight.

"All you can do is keep nudging in the right direction. But, so many positives within this game despite the result. Even in the 98th minute, Mads has had a chance."

A tough week passes for the Reds, with another one to follow, as we welcome Bristol Rovers and Wycombe Wanderers to Oakwell on Tuesday and Saturday respectively.

With such a quick turnaround between games, the 'gaffer' believes it is now a question of mental character as well as physicality as we tackle a month where games come thick and fast.

"We'll pick the bones out of this one, count the bodies on the Monday. We'll pick a team that we think that can go and win against Bristol Rovers. It's not a case of resting players, you're in the thick of it now. It's Saturday-Tuesday for a month. If the players aren't ready, they won't play. 

"It's not a case of 'oh, we'll rest him for this, rest him for that', it comes down to a mentality. Get your head down, the next month's gonna be hard, especially in this heat.

"But, that's the job. It's a hard job, but it's not a bad job to have."

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