Nigel Clough says Derby County’s unhealthy habit of conceding late goals must be cut out quickly after seeing his side denied an opening day win against Sheffield Wednesday.
Derby led 2-0 against the Owls early on thanks to goals from Nathan Tyson and Jake Buxton, but Wednesday hit back through Chris O’Grady before the break to bring themselves back into the game.
Then, with seconds left to play, Reda Johnson headed home a dramatic equaliser for the visitors to ensure the spoils were shared at Pride Park Stadium.
Having seen his side surrender a lead in similar fashion in midweek against Scunthorpe United in the Capital One Cup, Clough admitted the positives seen in both matches in the last week have been tinged with disappointment as a result of the late goals.
He told Rams Player: “There were an awful lot of positives out there today, including seeing Nathan Tyson on the scoresheet again, but another bout of naivety has cost us three points and winning start to the season.
“We made some decisions in the closing minutes of the game which unfortunately came back to hurt us.
“Yes, the players we have are young and lack that little bit of experience, but that shouldn’t detract them from doing certain things in the closing minutes of games when we’re winning which we have been telling them to do.
“Holding onto leads was something we did very well last season, but we’ve conceded late goals in the last two games and we’ve got to cut it out quickly.”
Clough admitted he was generally happy with his side’s performance in the opening game of the 2012-13 Championship season, and he’s called on his side not to get too despondent despite the late heartbreak.
He said: “On the whole, we were pretty pleased with the performance today but I guess the last way the game ended means we’re a little frustrated right now.
“We had to dig in for spells, but we did it well and there are times when we’re going to have to do it during the season – but we should really have seen it out today.
“Despite that, we’ll continue to tell the players that we’re playing some good stuff and we’re generally happy, so there is no need for their heads to drop.
“We’re scoring goals and playing well, but we’ve been naïve at crucial points and we’re working to cut that out.”
Derby head to recently-relegated Bolton Wanderers in midweek before a trip to Wolves next Saturday and Clough added: “They are two tough games, but we didn’t lose today and we need to remember that.
“Although we’re disappointed right now we have two games to look forward too, like last season in many ways which was also a tough start, and we’ll see what we can get on the road at Bolton and Wolves and we will relish the challenge.”
Watch Nigel Clough’s post-match interview on Rams Player.