JOHN Sheridan admitted that his side’s 2-0 defeat to Oxford United was well deserved, following a “very, very poor” performance.The visiting U’s, sitting a place above Argyle in Sky Bet League 2, took control of the game from the get-go and bagged themselves the opening goal in the 33rd minute, veteran Dave Kitson tucking home from close range.
Following Max Blanchard’s dismissal for a second bookable offence early in the second half, Oxford secured the three points with James Constable’s powerful long-range effort after 65 minutes.
After the game, John did not pull any punches regarding his team’s performance, singling out their first-half display as particularly disappointing.
John said: “I’ve got no qualms about the result – they were better than us. Every player in their team performed better than every player in my team. We were very, very poor.
“I left it short and sweet in the dressing-room, but I just think the first-half performance was probably the worst we’ve played. The tempo of it and everything was way below standard. [Oxford] just looked a better team than us. We didn’t deserve anything out of the game.”
With 8,161 in attendance, the Pilgirms once again fell short in a vital home game, missing out on a chance to move back into the Sky Bet League 2 play-offs despite other results going their way. The gaffer was at a loss to explain why, after an important away win against Newport Country four days earlier, his side did not seem up to the task.
He said: “I am struggling to answer the question of why we’re playing a big game against one of your nearest rivals who are going for the play-offs, and yet we go out and perform like we did.
“We’ve done that a couple of times this season, where you think there’s a big game there waiting for a big performance, and we were flat. Really flat.
“It’s getting on my nerves now. I’ve seen it on three or four occasions. I even remember when we played Morecambe away and we were on a little run – we were flat in that game, too.”
A draw for York and Southend’s defeat means that the Green Army’s dream of securing a play-off spot still is not out of the question, and John insists he will not give up on achieving that goal – but knows that the team’s mentality needs to be assessed.
“I’ve said it many a time, and I’m not being harsh, but they have to work and focus a lot more,” said the manager.
“We’re still in with a chance – results have gone our way today, but we can’t be performing like that and expect to do anything.
“Today we didn’t deserve anything from the game, but I’ve got to keep them focused, because we’ve got a little chance. I haven’t been hard on them in there – they know how I feel, but that’s too many times now.
“We’ve done alright, but just alright is not good enough.”