ANDY RITCHIE apologised to Town’s fans today for a shocking defeat at Walsall which he labelled “totally inept.”
The manager admitted Town were bullied into submission and, after reviewing the worst performance of his tenure, Ritchie said today: “We paid the price for not competing and I have to question the players’ attitude to the game.
“It was as though we felt ‘if it comes, it comes’ and that’s not good enough.
“It wasn’t for a lack of trying, but we weren’t strong in our minds, we weren’t strong in the tackle and we weren’t strong in the way we played.”
Ritchie played Malvin Kamara up front alongside Luke Beckett in the absence of suspended Danny Cadamarteri and drafted Matt Young onto the righthand side of midfield.
But Town were hit by first-half goals from Anthony Gerrard and Ed Sonko and, after Mark Bradley had increased the lead just after half time, they had Frank Sinclair sent-off for a second yellow card which rules him out at Doncaster on Sunday.
Cadamarteri will be back for that fixture, but Ritchie says skipper Jon Worthington (groin) isn’t yet ready, although he will play 90 minutes in tonight’s Reserve game against Coventry at Nuneaton Borough. Danny Schofield will also feature after being on the bench at Walsall.
“I can only apologise to our fans for Saturday’s performance and I’m sure it’s baffling them as much as it is baffling us,” added Ritchie.
“It certainly had me scratching my head as to how we could turn in a performance like that because we didn’t compete as we should have done and, when we had the ball, we didn’t play with any tempo.
“We are a good side when we play at a high tempo, but we slowed to their pace and looked very, very lack lustre indeed. Very disappointing.”
Ritchie said Town switched off.
“The lads said they didn’t feel tired, but I thought they looked it,” he explained.
“As a group I felt we looked really dozy, we didn’t react first to anything that was happening and then we looked devoid of ideas when we did have the ball, failing to put in the crosses which could have created some pressure.
“It was a problem that midfield didn’t keep their shape and it really needed one of the forwards to just drop back a bit and affect Michael Dobson, but we weren’t ‘at it’ all over the pitch.”
On Sinclair’s dismissal, Ritchie said: “He was kicked off the ball by the Walsall player involved (Ishmel Demontagnac) and I think that should have been a red card.
“Having said that, Frank’s initial reaction to the situation was over the top but it’s hard in football sometimes, when someone does something like that, to stop the red mist descending.
“I thought the second yellow was a bit harsh. Yes, it was a foul, but not really worth a booking, but that’s how it’s gone for us this season with referees. We can’t use it as an excuse, though, because we were inept.”