Bristol City assistant boss Tony Docherty "frustrated" by defeat
Assistant manager Tony Docherty spoke of his frustration after seeing Bristol City go down to defeat at Millwall.
Seeking to extend their unbeaten run to three games and close the gap on fourth-from-bottom Sheffield Wednesday, the Robins failed to reproduce the form shown in recent games against Ipswich and Peterborough as they went down 2-1 at the New Den.
At no stage this season have City managed to avoid defeat for more than two games and that lack of consistency means the Robins enter 2013 deep in relegation trouble at the wrong end of the npower Championship.
"We just need to pick up points," admitted Docherty after watching Adam Smith claim a late winner for the promotion-chasing Lions.
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"We constantly say to players that, if they put in a level of performance that is consistent, then the points will follow.
"I feel we have been doing that in the matches against Peterborough and Ipswich and, if we put in that level of performance more often, then I think we will pick up points along the way.
"But we have to do it in every game and that is the biggest frustration. It is frustrating for me and Derek (McInnes, manager) and it is frustrating for the players.
"You have an unhappy group of boys in the dressing room, because they know they should not have lost that game."
City appeared the more likely winners when Jon Stead cancelled out Dany N'Guessan's 19th minute opener midway through the second half. But a City side that has not kept a single clean sheet in the last 24 outings was again undermined by a failure to defend against set-piece routines and Adam Smith rifled in a 75th minute winner to leave the visitors in the bottom three.
Docherty added: "For me, we had the upper hand and were the team that was going to go on and win it, so it is desperately disappointing to then lose the game.
"To lose it to a set play that we should have dealt with is even more disappointing. Losing a goal to second phase play at a free kick is a concentration thing and is something you cannot replicate in training.
"It is a situation you need to deal with on a matchday and we should have dealt with it better. If we had dealt with it, then I would be speaking about a good point earned on the road, but I'm not and it is hard to take.
"We need to accept that, understand how to get better and make sure that situation does not happen again."
Out-played by Millwall in the first half, City improved following the introduction of substitutes Sam Baldock and Martyn Woolford. Manager Derek McInnes reverted to a 4-4-2 system and the visitors more than matched Millwall after the break.
Docherty defended the decision to retain the 5-4-1 formation that earned City a draw at Ipswich last month and explained why the tactic did not work in the capital.
He said: "It was a system we adopted away from home at Ipswich and it worked well for us. But you need to pass the ball well from the back and through the middle and we didn't do that against Millwall.
"We didn't retain possession well enough and, realistically, to come in at half time only 1-0 down was good. We managed to get the boys together and made a couple of substitutions and changed the formation and were the better team in the second half.
"Credit to the boys, because they created a good tempo in the second half and am Baldock together with Jon Stead gave us something at the top end of the pitch. We passed the ball better and we got it forward quicker.
"We need to take the positives from the game rather than dwell on the defeat. We changed systems today and the players showed they can do that very well. It is important we accentuate the positives going into the next game."