Dundalk 1 Rovers 0: Robbo's Verdict
Dave Robertson was disappointed not to come away with anything after an impressive display against Dundalk in Oriel Park.
It was the defending league champions that took a 1-0 win, the goal in first half stoppage time after a disputed penalty had been awarded to the Lilywhites.
Robertson said that he doesn’t want the penalty decision to overshadow what he saw as a very professional display by his team:
“It was a very big decision that had to be made. We have had a look at it after and I think it was very harsh on us. It’s a shame that it has slightly over-shadowed what was a really disciplined and gutsy performance from our players. The lads all but a great shift in, worked hard for each other and showed great discipline.”
Despite that blow The Bit o’Red started the second half strong and came close to levelling the game early in it.
“We spoke at half-time that we just needed to retain the ball better and we did that in the second half. We were able to create some real clear cut opening, Liam Martin and Jimmy Keohane had good chances. In the end we are disappointed not to be coming away with a point from the game.”
“I was pleased with how we did in the second half. They are the best team in the league have consistently been that for the last two years. One thing I really enjoyed was a good tactical battle with Stephen Kenny. We knew what to expect from them and what their plan b would be with Chris Shields being back and whether or not he would play. They set up as I expected after the game against Longford.
“We had a real period of dominance for the first 15 minutes in the second half. That forced the champions to change their shape and bring in two defensive midfielders and take off a striker. We then countered that by bringing on Phil Roberts and moving Jimmy Keohane inside. That we were able to influence them to change their shape and be able to counter it then was really good.”
Robertson was happy with how his game plan worked with Dundalk restricted to very few opportunities:
“We knew we needed to play well defensively. We knew the threat they would have. We knew about Daryl Horgan coming in from the left and Tobi did well there. We also had to stop Stephen O’Donnell controlling the game and Craig Roddan did a good job on him. We had to track Ronan Finn’s runs and Kieran Sadlier did that for us for the first 60 minutes until the change of shape. And Dave McMillan we knew we would have to watch coming from deep and we dealt with that.
“We gave a good account of ourselves and put in a real gutsy display. I am really disappointed to come away from this game with nothing.”
The only change to the team saw Raff Cretaro make his first start of the season and the Rovers manager was happy with how he contributed to the team performance: “Raff done well for us, he did what I expected. I was really pleased with him and the effort of all the team. We were all solid and strong. It was a big, hard decision that has unfortunately cost us in the game. But we will move on and be ready going into the next game on Tuesday.”
A quick turnaround sees his team back on the field Tuesday to kick-off this year’s EA Sports cup campaign against Derry City and Robertson says the confidence is there in the squad that this could provide a first win: “We have a lot of belief in the squad. We believe in ourselves and each other. We are showing some really good signs and I don’t think it will be long until the pendulum swings and the luck comes our way.”