Following City’s 2-2 draw away to Essex rivals Braintree Town on New Years Day, manager Robbie Simpson caught up with ClaretsTV to discuss the teams performance, a debut for midfielder Arjanit Krasniqi, the future of Cambridge United youngster Kai Yearn, and Wednesday night’s Isuzu FA Trophy fixture against National League side Wealdstone.
On the result and performance…
“It was a typical Derby really” said Simmo. “It was frantic at times and I don’t think it was a game with much control from either team.
“I think we were average at best today, I don’t think we played well at all. That’s not in terms of free flowing football, but I don’t think we did the basics well enough and I thought they [Braintree] were actually better at the basics than us which surprised me.
“Given that the one or two times we did do the basics well and then we followed that up with a better passage of play, we scored both times, so it’s disappointing that we didn’t do that more often and we weren’t relentless & consistent with that. I feel like if we were then there were lots of goals for us today.
“Obviously going ahead twice and losing the lead twice is disappointing as well, but we’ll take a point. It’s four points from these two games and we move on.
Defensive clearances and the goals…
“We struggled with clearances all day for some reason, I don’t know why. For the first 20 minutes of the game, bar the opening where we almost scored straight away, we struggled to get out of our own half and that was the pattern for a lot of the game actually. I know it’s a frantic Derby game, perhaps conditions [played a factor], but we have to make sure we concentrate on our clearances and do those basics well.
“We gradually built our way back into that first-half and with probably our first decent connection in terms of a clearance, we won the ball up the pitch, Trotts [Liam Trotter] switches the play to Eduino [Vaz], great cross and it was a great run and header from Tom [Blackwell] and we go one-nil up.
“I think it was fairly even for the rest of the first-half and to concede just before [half-time] was disappointing. We’d dealt with their long throws really well all game, bar that one really, and there wasn’t a lot of fault. I actually thought it was offside, but I’ll have to watch it back.
“[It was] a quick overhead kick from their lad when Trotts had headed it clear and it seemed to hit two of their players and I thought the second player it hit was offside, but we go in [to the break] one-all, which was disappointing, because if we had gone in one-nil up I’d have been quite pleased that we had settled ourselves, scored a good goal, and I’d have looked towards the second-half to really build on that and go forward.
“And we did that anyway! We scored another good goal by just doing the basics well, sliding the ball down the outside, a great run by Reece [Grant], and a really good finish as the angle was narrowing the longer it took for the ball to go towards the goal, but after that we weren’t good, we couldn’t get ourselves going. It was almost as though we’d gone into the lead again and we relaxed our minds and concentration. The substitutions didn’t really give us that extra impetus that I’d have liked.
“Then they scored a ‘worldie’ goal. Ovie [Ejeheri] says he was unsighted which was why he didn’t dive, but again it came from us not being able to clear the ball properly when we had time and space to do so. We couldn’t find the halfway line, only the edge of the box.
“It was a good Derby game for the neutral. We’re halfway through the season now and can look on it fondly, but we want to keep progressing and keep getting better as a team. In these winter months we have to do the basics well first and foremost, it has to be a foundation for us, so we have to get better.
On Arjanit Krasniqi’s debut, Louis Dunne’s injury and Kai Yearn being recalled by Cambridge United…
‘I threw Arj straight in. He’s cup tied for Wednesday [vs Wealdstone], so we thought about that with him and Henry [Ochieng]. I was really pleased to get him over the line.
“Obviously it’s really terrible news for Louis [Dunne], and we’ll support him the best we can.
“I got a phone call from Cambridge [the day before the match] saying that they needed to recall Kai Yearn. They had a depleted squad anyway, then they went up to Derby [County] midweek and picked up a couple more injuries, so they needed Kai back.
“We’re in discussions with them already about how long that might be for and whether he’ll actually get substantial minutes for them or not, but they’re really pleased with him here, so I imagine if they do want to send back out on loan if he doesn’t get much minutes, then there’s a conversation to be had there.
“Cambridge are being selfish and quite rightly so, but we’ve got to be selfish as well as we’ve got a lot of games in January where we need bodies, so we might not be able to wait for him.”
On Wealdstone on Wednesday night…
“I’m really looking forward to it. I don’t think Reece can play because he wasn’t signed before the original date which seems a long time ago now, and Arj is cup tied. We’ll look to give other players minutes. Simeon [Jackson] didn’t start today, Henry [Ochieng] didn’t start either, and it was also good to get Jonesy [Callum Jones] some more minutes and perhaps he’s in our minds for the game as well.
“We’re really looking forward to testing ourselves against a team that are doing really well in the league above. I think they’re touching on the play-offs, and with their resources and being part-time is quite incredible really, so they’re doing fantastically well, but we’re going to try and win the game!”
You can watch the full interview with Robbie Simpson here!