Stoke boss O’Neill slams his side: We did not match our first-half performance after the break

By KAI BENNETT

Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill blasted his substitutes and thought that his team were “unrecognizable” in the second half.

Millwall made it four wins in the last five league games as they beat Stoke City at the Bet 365 Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Murray Wallace had put the Lions ahead in the first half before Jacob Brown equalised just before the break meaning it remained level at half time.

But Mason Bennett won it for the Lions, when Billy Mitchell found Jed Wallace who squared it to Bennett, to tap into an empty net.

The result moves Millwall up to ninth place in the Sky Bet Championship.

O’Neill told Stoke City’s club website: “Extremely disappointed to lose the game. In the first half we played some excellent football, total domination. We lose a poor goal off a corner, which was disappointing but there was a good reaction and I thought we would go on and win the game [in the second half].

“The second half performance was unrecognizable. The tempo of the game dropped, the opposition changed a little bit, they put an extra midfield player in there to give them more of a foothold in the game, which they didn’t have in the first half. We couldn’t get to the levels, we dropped gears, and we weren’t able to get back to the level.

“Ultimately it’s a really poor mistake that costs us the game, in terms of their second goal. I don’t envisage that we would’ve lost the game but it was really poor.

“We showed two sides of our character today. We showed the good side and all the progression we made in the first half. In the second half we showed why we’re not in a play-off position, in terms of the level of performance wasn’t acceptable [today].

“Both goals [that we conceded today] were very, very poor and that’s something that we have to eradicate going forward as well.

“We had a lot of good opportunities [in the first half] again – some of our play, build up play is excellent. Some of the combination play between the midfield and [Nick] Powell and [Steven] Fletcher and [Jacob] Brown is excellent but the final ball in the box still needs to improve. We still have to look to improve in that area. For the dominance we had and for the opportunities we had, we didn’t create enough clear-cut chances.”

When asked about what went wrong in the second half, O’ Neill put it down to his side’s lack of tempo.

“We just didn’t get to the tempo of the game,” he said. “Our level of performance wasn’t high enough – that was the main thing really. Tactically they [Millwall] brought a third midfielder on, but that shouldn’t have caused us the problems it did. Suddenly they had more of the game – they had been on the back foot for all of the first half. They had more territory in the second half.

“Ultimately we weren’t able to get to the level in the second half. The goal we gave away was really poor.

“Subs didn’t give us anything today, which was poor. I’m learning about my team all the time and about the players we inherited. I’m learning about the players we’ve brought in. We know where we want to go, going forward and we will have to transition the squad further to get there.”

 

 


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