LES Fridge bemoaned his players’ lack of concentration as they suffered a heavy 6-1 reverse to new Highland League leaders Cove Rangers yesterday.
Fridge’s players went one goal down in only the first minute of the game and their chances of taking something out of the match were extinguished within just quarter-of-an-hour with Cove four goals up.
The home side added further goals to their tally either side of half time with Sam Urquhart grabbing what was scant consolation for the visitors late on.
Fridge said: “It was a lack of concentration which caused us to lose early goals but we have enough quality and experience in the team that these mistakes and results should not be happening.
“We started the game really badly and lost a goal in the first minute. We did a lot of preparation and went through things in the dressing room before the game on what we needed to do defensively yet we lost a really early goal. The players knew that Cove’s movement was good and that they were quick but still switched off.
“We found ourselves 4-0 down after 15 minutes. One was from a corner and one was from a free kick, both of which were finished from within the six-yard box, so they were not difficult goals for the Cove players to score but we did not have anybody picking up. That was down to players switching off and not taking responsibility and it was very disappointing.
“Another one came from another basic error as we had the chance to clear the ball but mis-kicked it, which allowed their boy to step on and play a simple pass for the boy to score.
“So at least three of the first four goals were avoidable and we gave ourselves a mountain to climb. I can only put that down to a lack of concentration for the first goal and people not taking responsibility for the two that were scored from set pieces – if you are marking someone and have a job to do then do it but we did not manage that.
“Even for the sixth goal, we already had a warning prior to it but we allowed their boy to run in along the by-line and cut it back. These are mistakes that should not happen.”
County managed to prevent a rampant Cove side from increasing their margin of victory in the second half, with the home side’s sixth goal cancelled out by Urquhart’s late counter.
Fridge added: “Their goalkeeper had two great saves in the first half and Mo (Michael Morrison) hit the bar. In the second half, Conor (Gethins) and Paul Macleod both had chances with free headers. Conor also had a one-on-one which the goalkeeper saved and he drew another good save out of their goalie later on.
“If we were sitting at 1-0 or even 2-0 down then we would have given ourselves a chance of getting back into it and if one of those opportunities had then gone in, it would have given us a lift and it would have been a different game. But, as I said, we gave ourselves a mountain to climb through the start we made, so even though we played some decent football in the second half the damage had already been done by us losing the goals in the manner that we did.”
Asked how he avoids such a result occurring again in the future, Fridge responded: “It is very difficult. You ask players to do things and give them instructions but they go out on the park and switch off and make mistakes. You rely on the players and the quality that we have in the squad to be a bit more vigilant and a bit more switched on.”
County have played two games against the top four sides in the league so far this season and shipped 13 goals. The next game against a team from the top four is just around the corner too with an away trip to second-placed Formartine United on Wednesday night.
Fridge said: “When you look at Cove, they are a very good side. They are unbeaten all season and they are unbeaten for a reason. We could have gone there and lost 2-1 or 3-1 and been sitting here saying that we were unlucky. The bottom line is we have lost and we need to pick ourselves up again. It is as simple as that. There is no point in dwelling on it because it is gone and we need to fix it. We need boys to start performing.
“When you look at chances created in the Cove game, we had a few of our own and if we had been sitting at 1-0 down or 2-0 down instead of 4-0 or 5-0 and we had managed to nick one, then, as I said, it would have been a completely different game. When you play the top teams though, first of all you have to take your chances and secondly, you have to avoid giving away silly goals.”