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Clarke: Second half not good enough

21 March 2015

Boss unhappy after loss at The Valley

Steve Clarke said the Royals' performance in the second half - and in particular the reaction to conceding a soft penalty - cost us the game against Charlton.

We led 1-0 at the interval through Pavel Pogrebnyak after a good opening 45 minutes, but found ourselves at 1-1 on the hour when Michael Hector was penalised for handball despite being pushed.

Charlton went on to win 3-2 and had a number of chances after the break; Pogrebnyak getting a very late consolation for Clarke's side.

An upset Clarke said after the game, "The second half performance was not good enough, so it's a disappointing day.

"First half we were really good, we looked like a good team but the difference in the two halves is incredible, and probably symptomatic of two things: the way the season has gone, and the way we reacted to adversity in the game. It's not hard to see why we are where we are in the League.

"Second half we allowed them back in, made some slack passes which is a feature of this team and we have to eliminate it if we want to get better.

"It's like everything from this season, to work out why you can do so well in the first half, control a game, and then in the second half have no reaction to a moment of adversity. It was a soft penalty, looks like a push on Michael Hector. But there was no reaction.

"Players probably felt aggrieved by the decision but you have to do better than that, have leaders on the pitch who know you can lose goals to bad decisions, react and stay in the game. If you can keep it 2-1 it's very different."

Inconsistency has been a regular feature this season, with the boss saying, "I can't work out the difference between the two teams [first half and second half], it's Jekyll and Hyde. It's frustrating, the quicker we are secure in the table and the season's over, then we can start again.

"I don't think we're safe. When you watch the team capitulate like that, we had 15 minutes where we lost control of the game completely, you can't think you're safe. We need the points required. The League table says a lot about the team, the squad."

The spot kick was not the only decision that went against us, with Danny Williams sent off late on for a second yellow.

Clarke said, "The penalty was another poor decision by the referee but you get plenty of them in this division so the players should be used to it.

"Then Danny Williams is sent off, I don't know what for, but that's the standard of refereeing in this division. First yellow was soft, he won the ball. The sooner we get professional refs in the Championship the better. The officials are doing as well as they can, but until they're professional we'll get poor decisions."

The boss confirmed that Simon Cox and Yakubu picked up knocks in training so missed out, while the injured Nathaniel Chalobah should be OK after the international break.

We now go into a two-week international break and Steve said, "There's players away, a few injured. The first week will be about refreshing everybody. They'll have a few days off, they don't deserve it after today but they deserve it for the weeks of back-to-back games.

"We have a lot of games in April, we need to be fresh mentally and physically for the challenge."

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