04:49PM, Thursday 13 January 2022
Saturday’s 6-1 defeat to Chippenham Town was by some distance the Rebels’ worst of the season, but, having taken a few days to process the result, Jon Underwood doesn’t think the performance was as bad as the scoreline suggests.
Looking back at the Rebels display through dispassionate eyes, and without the anger he felt immediately after the final whistle, Underwood can accept Chippenham were the better side, but doesn’t think the players need to get too down on themselves.
Yes, they played poorly at times and were broken down too easily by their clinical hosts, but they also battled well to get a foothold in the game in the second half and had chances to make it 4-2 – most notably from Ben Harris’ penalty miss – before conceding two further goals late on. Alfonso Tenconi scored the Rebels’ only goal in the first half, but the visitors trailed 4-1 at the break, and Harris was also dismissed in the second half for violent conduct in the aftermath of his penalty miss.
It isn’t a result Underwood or Neil Baker will want to dwell on after a largely positive period for the team has seen the Rebels move from the lower reaches of the National League to within a handful of points of the play-offs.
The lacklustre nature of the display was a surprise to Underwood, but he’s hopeful the players can shake it off and respond with a positive performance in Saturday’s FA Trophy tie at York City.
“It’s a funny game to look back on when you’ve had a few days to process it and are a little bit calmer,” said Underwood.
“Obviously, the result is a disastrous one and was unexpected, and this is going to sound ridiculous, but we weren’t as terrible as I felt we were when I immediately responded and had to do an interview.
“They were much better than us on the day, and certainly more clinical in the final third. Some of the goals we conceded were also really poor and some of the goals were excellent play from their point of view. I think 6-1 feels harsh as I don’t think there was that much of a difference between the sides, but there was definitely something missing from our play.
“We pride ourselves on working hard and being tough to beat and we’d only lost two of our last 13 games prior to that in all competitions, and you don’t do that in this league without being a good side.
“I didn’t see that performance coming, and while it wasn’t as bad as the scoreline suggests, we were nowhere near good enough. I’d say they created 10 chances and scored six, which is too many chances to give away from our point of view, and we’ve had four or five chances and taken one. On another day the game maybe ends up being 3-1 but on Saturday it was a lot worse.”
The result leaves the Rebels 11th in the National League South, now four points off the play-off places ahead of their return to league action at second from bottom Braintree Town on January 22. Before that the Rebels take a break from the league to travel up to York City for Saturday’s fourth round FA Trophy tie. Underwood isn’t expecting the performance on Saturday to have any knock on effects and actually believes the game against the Minstermen has come at the perfect time.
“I think if that game had come in September, when we were having a hard time, it would have affected us,” he said. “But we’ve built up form over time, we’ve had a good few months now and have a very settled side that’s been doing very well for us.
“We just have to take our medicine and move on. I don’t think we’ll lose our confidence, in fact I hope we’ll see the exact opposite and get a response from the players.”