Thursday 17 January 2019

Lyttle concerned as he admits Rovers are in relegation battle

Jessica Farry

Sligo Rovers manager Ger Lyttle admitted that he is concerned as his Sligo Rovers side slumped to a sixth defeat of the season, this time losing 2-0 to Derry City at The Showgrounds on Saturday night.

Rory Patterson and Ronan Hale netted as Derry won on Rovers' home turf for the first time since 2009.

"At the minute I'm concerned, I'm not going to lie to you. I'm very concerned. We're in a relegation battle, as early as this which isn't good enough.

"As I've said as a manager I need to find solutions. I need to find a way to get us winning games of football. The players need to do their bit. We're all in it together. We'll continue to fight and hopefully we can turn things around," Lyttle said afterwards.

The Bit o'Red were slow to start, with Kenny Shiels' side well on top for the duration of the game. The hosts were forced to spend much of the first half defending Derry attacks.

Lyttle was left frustrated, adding that the Candystripes wanted the victory more than his players did, something that disappointed him.

"I'm bitterly disappointed with the performance first and foremost. I just don't think we got out of the traps.

"I don't think we worked Derry as much as we had planned to during the week. They worked us more than we worked them.

"They wanted it more which is frustrating. They showed more heart and more desire and that's the disappointing thing.

"We all know it's unacceptable. The players know it's not acceptable. It's something that we need to change very quickly, otherwise we're not in a good place."

Lyttle continued: "We need to get out of that mentality that we're in at the minute, we're stuck in a rut, especially at home for some strange reason."

Despite recent results not going there way, there were positives to take from games. However, there were no positives to take from this game.

Ger Doherty, in the Derry goals, was untroubled throughout the 90 minutes, acting as merely a spectator for the duration of the game only getting a handful of touches to the ball.

"I can't remember us creating any chances. I can't remember Ger Doherty making any real saves.

"I think Derry will not get an easier game all season than they did tonight.

"We've allowed them to dictate the play and allowed them to win all the battles and we haven't stopped them. I'm really angry, and hopefully the players feel the same. I think they will (feel the same way)."

As has been the case all season, the goals conceded by Rovers were largely avoidable.

The Rovers boss continued: "It's the story of the season so far. The goals we're conceding are really poor goals. They're not goals where the teams are really opening us up.

"Their first goal is a deflection, it hits off David Cawley and he can do nothing about it. Then the second goal, Micheál should do better and he knows that and he's admitted that.

"I just think then we were sort of getting on top of things, we made three changes. I thought we were coming into the game a wee bit and it was a suckerpunch then to concede the second goal. After that we were never going to come back which is unfortunate."

With 59 minutes on the clock, Lyttle used all three of his substitutes.

The injured Kyle Callan-McFadden was replaced by Seamus Sharkey, Eduardo Pinceli came on for Ally Rolly, and Raff Cretaro took the place of Adam Morgan.

It was a risk that Lyttle felt he had to take. He was left with no other choice.

"I think we had to make those changes. There was no spark, for me it was like there was a lack of enthusiasm to play football. At the end of the day it's 11 v 11 and tonight their 11 wanted it more. That's the bottom line."

Yet, the former Cliftonville boss still remains adamant that his players have what it takes to turn things around.

With games away to both Limerick and Cork coming up next, it doesn't get any easier.

"I do (think the players have what it takes to turn it around). I'm not going to lie. I think we'll turn things around.

He continued: "We've got good ability, we've got good players in the changing room.

"There's no point having all this ability if we don't have the passion and the desire to win games. Good players find a way to win games and that's what we need to do now. It might be a good thing again getting away from The Showgrounds, which is disappointing because last year I loved coming here.

"I loved the crowd getting behind us. At the minute we're letting supporters down with performances we're putting in here."

Once again Rovers picked up a number of needless bookings on the night, something that Lyttle says they will have to be mindful of as the season goes on.

"It was the same on Monday night (against Galway in the EA Sports Cup). It's frustration.

"They know they're frustrated with the performance and it's something that we probably need to try and be careful with because we don't want to be losing players at the same time and hopefully we don't.

"We need to man up now. Let's roll our sleeves up and start winning games."

And once again, Lyttle is demanding more from his players.

"We need to be creating more chances in the final third, we need to be braver on the ball. Too many of us tonight went into our shell and was hiding.

"We have to work on getting boys' confidence up and try and be upbeat. It's the worst thing ever for a manager to try and do when you're not getting results."

Sligo Champion