Michael Appleton acknowledged his side found it difficult at times this afternoon as they were beaten 2-0 at The Valley by Bolton Wanderers. But the boss also outlined that in many ways it was a game decided by key moments of quality and controversy.
“For the first ten minutes or so we were on the front foot and got a little bit of joy down that right-hand side,” he told CharltonTV. “But moments can change games and there were two key moments in the game.”
On the first goal, an excellent curling strike from Randell Williams, Appleton said: “I don’t think we could do anything different. I think it’s a brilliant finish. We could have maybe got a little bit closer and blocked the shot, but I was more disappointed with the second goal.”
With Terell Thomas waiting on the side-line following an injury, the referee deemed play to be too close to the defender to allow him to re-enter the field. That, combined with the referee’s positioning, left Appleton aggrieved.
“The real frustration was that the referee blocked Scott Fraser from allowing him to track the runner that went into the box,” he said. “And that’s a big frustration because obviously it comes from the side where Terrell would be defending. And the fact that the referee gets in the way obviously makes it doubly difficult.”
Despite the potential for heads going down, the gaffer was impressed his how his players responded to the adversity: “I think it did affect us. It affected everyone in the stadium. You could really sense that, the anxiety around the place. And the lads stood firm. It was difficult in that moment against a good side,” he said.
“The way we responded in the second, I can only say well done to the players. They looked like a side that were desperate to get back in the game. I know [Bolton] had opportunities on the break, but I think as a manager you can accept that because you’re trying so hard to push forward.”
The boss also believed that the game showed the importance of having a manager who has had time to implement his approach.
“You look at them and that’s about four and a half years in the making, and I’m two months in the job,” he said. “I think we’re making small steps, there’s no doubt about that. I still believe there’s enough in the group to challenge the top half of the table.”
The manager will be hoping the next of those small steps comes away at Wigan Athletic on Tuesday night, a contest he appeared to be relishing for its potential to help his side get over two consecutive defeats.
“It wasn’t to be today. We take it on the chin. We take what’s coming to us but then obviously we get an opportunity to put it right on Tuesday.”