06 April 2024

Darrell Clarke frustrated as relegation-threatened Cheltenham lose at Orient

06 April 2024

Darrell Clarke admitted it had been a frustrating afternoon for the visitors after his Cheltenham side suffered a 3-1 defeat at Leyton Orient to leave them two points from safety in the Sky Bet League One relegation zone.

Ethan Galbraith and Ollie O’Neill left the visitors chasing the game with first-half goals before Orient’s leading scorer Ruel Sotiriou ended his nine-match barren run with a superb strike late on.

Substitute Joe Nuttall reduced the deficit with a goal in the final minute of stoppage time but Clarke was left to ponder the uphill struggle ahead if his team are to avoid the drop.

“We started the game quite well, particularly in the first 20 minutes, but then we conceded two goals from outside the box that really we could have done better by getting closer at the edge of the box and blocking the shots,” Clarke said.

“I was frustrated at half-time and looking for solutions to the problems we had in the first half and try to get the next goal because the game is not over at 2-0. I think if we had taken our chances and got that next goal, we would have kicked on. It’s all ifs, buts and maybes and now we have to go again.

“Probably the last two or three games have been 45-minute performances and we need to start putting 90-minute performances together.

“I’ve just said to the players, ‘we’re still in this race’, we kept going to the end and I believe there is enough in there to keep us in this division, albeit not on today’s showing.

“I will make sure I get the right answers for the team but we will have to perform better than we did today.”

O’s boss Richie Wellens saw his side collect maximum points at home for the first time in four matches.

“We missed the easier chances today with a couple of one-on-ones and could have scored a few more goals but we also scored three excellent finishes,” he said.

“I thought the keeper should have saved Galbraith’s goal but O’Neill’s goal was good and so was Sotiriou’s. I wasn’t happy with him to be honest because he was a bit sulky and his reactions weren’t great but I know he has a goal in him.

“That game should have been more comfortable than it was but we lacked discipline and gave opportunities away. They could have scored four goals today. I was disappointed we conceded to the one at the end because we wanted the clean sheet.

“This is the first game we’ve played when we can’t achieve anything but we respect the league and the teams fighting, so we played a strong team as well as given Zech Obiero a start at 18 years old, so overall it was a good day.”

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