Hatters boss Paul Buckle was left a frustrated figure as his side failed to make up any ground in the Blue Square Bet Premier title race yesterday afternoon as they went down 2-0 to Dartford, writes Mike Simmonds.
With Newport losing at Alfreton on Friday night and news filtering through to Kenilworth Road of Wrexham’s 2-1 home defeat to Hereford before kick-off, the scene was set for Hatters to move back into second, just a point behind County.
But that all changed in an awful first 45 minutes as Town shipped two soft goals and couldn’t make their customary second half fightback this time.
Buckle said: “The most disappointing thing for me is that we’ve missed the opportunity to close the gap to the top.
“We’ve seen Wrexham lose, we’ve seen Newport lose and we’ve seen us lose.
“There’s still loads of games to go and we know we’ve got to liven ourselves up after this display. We’ve got to do better, but I reiterate that hopefully it’s a one off for us.
“It’s nothing to do with formations as we had enough good chances to draw the game on reflection, But if we give teams headstarts at Kenilworth Road like we have done then it’s very difficult.”
On what went wrong for his team in that opening 45 minutes, Buckle, who swapped his backline once more, dropping Janos Kovacs and Lathaniel Rowe-Turner to the bench, said: “It was two set plays. The first one was as poor a goal as you’ll see.
“The second goal was a carbon copy. We’ve been really watertight on those things for a number of games now, but it’s reared its ugly head again.”
Hatters are back in action on Tuesday night in the FA Cup at Nuneaton and Buckle is hopeful of a reaction after calling his side into extra training today.
He said: “Any game would be good for us, the league or FA Cup. I believe in the team and we’ve been on a brilliant run that came to and end at Hereford.
“I thought we were really unlucky and that maybe dented our confidence a bit I don’t know. Within a season it can throw a game up, we’re not a team that can’t turn out one of these performances and it’s a long time since we’ve been that poor in the first half.
“We’ve got to take responsibility for that. Me, the players and the staff will work as hard as we can to improve that for the next game.”
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