FOOTBALL: A FRUSTRATED Russell Slade admits his side must keep their concentration for the entire 90 minutes after the Sky Blues were again undone by a late goal which consigned them to a ninth defeat in 11 League One matches.
The Sky Blues matched play-off hopefuls Fleetwood Town on Saturday afternoon in what was a poor display of football from both sides on a muggy Ricoh Arena pitch.
But just as it looked as though Slade’s side were on target to pick up a much-needed point in their fight for survival, Cian Bolger popped up with a last minute header as the visitors stole all three points.
Under Slade the Sky Blues have dropped five points by conceding late goals and it is a problem the City boss wants to address.
“Obviously disappointing,” said Slade. “We can’t keep making the same errors, or conceding late on. It is costing us dearly.
“The goal in the dying minutes has happened a few times now – what you do if you can’t win it is ensure you can’t lose it. We marked well, but we’ve allowed their player to get a run and score.
“Poor goal to concede, it is a set play. We were on the verge of a clean sheet, until we value those basics for 95 minutes then we’re always going to be suspect. There will always be a window of opportunity for the opposition.”
There was very little to report about following a dismal opening 45 minutes in which neither goalkeeper were really tested.
Ashley Hunter played a delighted ball across the face of goal with five minutes gone but there was no Fleetwood player there to get the all-important touch, while at the other end Stuart Beavon’s shot from the edge of the box was comfortable for Alex Cairns.
Bobby Grant fired a shot narrowly wide and Andy Rose almost got lucky with a cross shortly after the half-hour mark but Alex Cairns pulled off a smart save to deny the Australian midfielder.
Just moments after the re-start Fleetwood came agonisingly close to taking the lead when Amari’i Bell crossed from the left for the advancing Hunter but his first time shot drifted inches wide of the target.
Slade’s side were unlucky not to take the lead in the 50th minute when Callum Reilly directed a corner towards goal but his effort clipped the post.
Bolger headed onto the roof of the net and with 15 minutes remaining Jordan Willis almost opened the scoring when he got on the end of a Jodi Jones cross but the ball bounced wide of Cairns’ right-hand post.
Just as it looked as though the home side were going to earn a share of the spoils, Bolger rose highest to head home Kyle Dempsey’s corner and consign the Sky Blues to 14th defeat of the season.
It could have been worse for the hosts in stoppage time when Substitute Wes Burns raced clean through on goal but Burge got down well to make a smart save.
Burns almost doubled the lead deep into extra time as he found himself through on goal only for Burge to save his effort brilliantly, but ultimately Bolger’s goal was enough to give the Cod Army all three points and extend the run of league games unbeaten – to ten.
“I thought they were the better side in the first half, arrived with a bit of swagger and confidence,” Slade added. “But I thought we came in to it in the second period, Willis has a good chance.
“We more than matched them, but got nothing. The pitch wasn’t good, lended itself for the game being messy. But you’ve got to have the ability to win ugly.”
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