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Steve Cotterill: We gave ourselves a mountain to climb

Boss Steve Cotterill conceded his side were not good enough defensively and gave themselves a 'mountain to climb' in defeat at Oxford.

Steve Cotterill the head coach / manager of Shrewsbury Town (AMA)
Steve Cotterill the head coach / manager of Shrewsbury Town (AMA)

Town followed up a competitive first half display at the Kassam Stadium by shipping a soft opener to Mark Sykes inside the first minute of the second half.

The U's were then largely comfortable throughout the second period and added a second late on through Cameron Brannagan.

The Shrews chief admitted his defence - which were switched to a back four tonight following injuries and a suspension - did not play as well as they did on Saturday, where they earned a 1-0 win over MK Dons.

"It's disappointment really, on the back of Saturday, we wanted to build, try to get back-to-back for the first time this season," Cotterill said of a sixth away reverse in seven this season, with Town still winless on the road.

"We did well in the first half, the second half, when you start like you start, you've got a mountain to climb.

"We kicked ourselves in the teeth, we've got to get a block on that, squeeze up, the defence that was so good on Saturday wasn't as good tonight.

"When you come away to places likes Oxford you've got to hope that everybody plays well in your back four."

Cotterill was pleased with an even first half but felt Town required more urgency after falling behind right at the start of the second home - and suggested only a handful of players did enough after the break.

He said: "I thought the effort was definitely there in the first half, but I thought there was moments in the second half, after they got a goal, that we needed to put more urgency into the game.

"Unfortunately in the second half we could only pick out a handful of people that played well, when all of them were organised and hard working in the first half."

On the soft nature of the crucial opener, a cross that beat Marko Marosi into the far corner, he said: "He was probably put off by Ethan (Ebanks-Landell), by Aaron Pierre and was probably put off by himself, because those are the three that didn't move to clear the ball when they could've done."

Town finished the contest without an effort on target but Cotterill felt his side created better openings than the hosts, particularly in the first period.

He lamented a lack of composure in snatching at chances, however, and added: "We end up with quite a few chances in the first half that you don't normally get here.

"If I'm honest I thought they'd ran out of ideas in the first half. There was a lot of passing across their back four, that's fine, but it's disappointing to start the second half like we did."

George Nurse missed out with an injury and no details were given about the extent of the damage. Luke Leahy served a one-match ban but Aaron Pierre did return from an Achilles problem.

When asked about Pierre's return, the manager said: "It's always good to have players back from injury but I didn't think he had his best game tonight."

Town named academy defender Callum Wilson on the substitutes bench with four first-teamers unavailable, but Cotterill said Shrewsbury will 'not cry or moan' about squad numbers.

"Everyone's squad gets stretched, we're not crying about the squad being stretched," he said.

"By the way you could have a load of players and if they aren't good enough to replace the ones you've got you'll always end up with the same result, so it isn't something they'll moan about."

Cotterill said when asked about how he addressed the players after full-time: "I very rarely speak after a game like that, experience tells me not to always speak after a game like that, we might pick out a few odd things, but experience tells me not always to speak.

"I don't always speak when we win, sometimes I'll just go in and listen to all of them. You can go in there and go off your head, do all those things, and it gets you absolutely nowhere. You have to speak when you're calm and more measured."

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