Michael Appleton was disappointed with his players’ concentration in key moments as the Addicks fell to a late 2-1 defeat at Bristol Rovers on Friday night.
A quick free-kick in the 94th minute caught Charlton out and allowed Chris Martin to score the winner. “As a manager it’s hard to defend the way we didn’t stand on the ball, how five or six players turned their back on the free kick,” Appleton told CharltonTV. “The second goal ruined all the effort and good work that got put in before that.”
However, the boss was reluctant to criticise his players too heavily, explaining that it is important that confidence levels remain at a decent level. “I have to make sure that they are in a frame of mind where they can pick themselves up and make sure they’re ready for New Years’ Day against Oxford,” he said.
“You’ve just got to get the balance right in these moments. It’s not as if I haven’t been here before. I am very experienced. I’ve seen a lot of things, dealt with a lot of things, had a lot of different groups. I recognise when groups need my help, rather than absolutely lambasting them. That’s not going to help anyone.”
“I think it’s so important in these moments that people stick together.”
Indeed, despite the frustrating conclusion, there were a number of positives to take from the match. “We started the game really well. We should have been two or three up in the first ten minutes or so,” said Appleton.
“In the second half I thought we were great. Before they scored the goal we’ve had three or four really good opportunities.”
One negative, though, was the news that Alfie May has been carrying an injury. “He’s been struggling,” the gaffer explained. “We’re lucky that we got 70, 75 minutes out of him. He’s been struggling with his back. Yesterday he wasn’t playing. Today he made himself fit and available which is a testament to him.”
“He did great to come through the amount of minutes that he did and we’re grateful for that.”
Next up is Oxford United on New Years’ Day, a fixture in which Appleton hopes the Valley will play its part. “I’d like to think that because we’re at home, we’ll get that extra lift that we want and we need,” he said.
“That group will pick itself up because I’ll make sure it picks itself up, and it’ll have a right go at Oxford on Monday.”