Manager Phillip Cocu says Derby County need to defend better after he watched his side fall to their second defeat of the 2020/21 Sky Bet Championship season against Luton Town on Saturday afternoon.
Derby were beaten 2-1 at Kenilworth Road as Jordan Clark’s late header secured the home side all three points.
The Hatters had taken the first half lead as Luke Berry converted from a right-wing cross, but the manager would have been pleased with the quality of Derby’s equaliser in the early stages of the second half as they stepped up their game.
After good work from new signing Kamil Jozwiak, Jack Marriott found the bottom corner to equalise with a low drive shortly after half-time.
However, the Rams suffered a late blow as Clark’s header a few minutes from time saw them come away from the game empty handed.
Whilst the manager felt the Rams' second half performance was an improvement, he felt they needed to defend much better as a team.
“The way we conceded the first goal is something that cannot happen twice in a game. Even the second one was worse in the defending. We have to realise it is an important part of the game.
“If you are solid at the back and you defend well, there is less pressure on the strikers and one or two goals can make the difference.
“In the second half we created quite a few opportunities. We scored a good goal and were close to getting a second one - but then conceded a stupid goal.
“It was sloppy defending with three players against one in the middle and the far post was totally open. Like I always say, there will always be an opportunity to get a result and in the last two minutes of the game. Wayne Rooney had a shot that could given us a point, but it wasn't to be.
“At 1-1 we could have won it and that is the part we need to work on. We played two games so far and didn’t get any result in either of them.”
The manager felt aggrieved with the manner of Luton’s second goal. With Jozwiak going off injured, Derby tried to bring on Morgan Whittaker. However, play was restarted by the officials.
With the Rams effectively down to 10-men, Luton then went on to score from that attack as Clark headed home at the back post.
Cocu was keen not to directly blame the officials but was aggrieved that play was restarted with a player short.
Focusing on the positives, the Dutchman was pleased Marriott opened his account for the season.
“It was not only the finish, we are all happy a striker scores the goal, but it was just a great play,” he said. “Even the assist and the cross was perfect. After we scored we felt much better in our performance.
“Kamil was also in a similar situation and had a great opportunity to get a second one just after Jack scored. You feel that that is a moment in the game that can be decisive.
“The attitude of the players was god. They tried to play with pace and tempo but if you can
concede two goals when the opponent have just two or three opportunities, the
average of two goals is too much.”