Stoke City boss O’Neill highlights two big problems following defeat

Date published: Saturday 23rd October 2021 7:34 - Sean Byrne

Michael O'Neill Stoke City October 2021

Michael O’Neill said his Stoke side weren’t ruthless or resilient enough as they let a one-goal lead slip yet again.

Despite opening the scoring, the Potters were defeated 2-1 by Millwall at The Den. The scoring matched their last outing against Sheffield United, where they again let a one-goal lead slip.

Boss O’Neill recognised the similarities between the two games, and highlighted flaws in his side’s game.

Speaking in the press conference, via StokeonTrentLive, he said: “For 35 minutes we had been in control of the game. We allowed the opposition to creep into the game a little bit towards half-time.

“We addressed that at half-time, telling them to get back on the ball and play. But we didn’t do it until we were 2-1 down.

“It is concerning because when you’re ahead you have to be either ruthless enough to kill the game off and we didn’t display that; secondly when you concede you have to be resilient enough not to concede again. We conceded again, very similar to last Saturday.”

The loss was their third in a row, and conceding twice means Stoke now have just one clean sheet from their last five games.

O’Neill believes Stoke weren’t good enough at the back, and was critical of the goals conceded against Millwall.

“I’m extremely disappointed with the result, obviously. There are similarities with last week, conceding two goals in a very short space of time – and two goals which were clearly very preventable as well.

“You don’t expect to lose goals in your six-yard box playing three at the back, you should always have that extra cover. Sometimes it will happen when you play two centre-backs but with three it shouldn’t happen. We didn’t defend the box well enough.”

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Stoke dealt injury blow during warm-up

Right wing-back Tommy Smith was forced to withdraw from the game having picked up an injury during the warm-up.

Having initially been named in the starting line-up, Leo Ostigaard was brought in as a late replacement, with Ben Wilmot moving out to right wing-back.

The full extent of Smith’s injury is unknown as of yet, and therefore it is unclear whether he will be spending some time on the sidelines.

The full-back had started 11 of Stoke’s 13 fixtures before the Millwall game.


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