Downes: On Fire in the First Half But We Didn't Get Going in the Second
Sunday, 8th Dec 2019 16:40
Stand-in skipper Flynn Downes admitted Town never got going in the second half of their 1-1 League One draw with Coventry on Saturday but felt the Blues were “on fire” in the first half and put in their best performance of the season.
Downes, wearing the captain’s armband for the second time in a week at the Sky Blues’ temporary home St Andrew’s, was frustrated that the match ended 1-1, the same scoreline as the second round FA Cup tie between the teams on the previous Sunday.
The 20-year-old said it was very much a case of two points dropped: “Big time, in the first half we were on fire, popping it about and I’d say it was the best we’ve played.
“Second half, we came out and we didn’t get going, we didn’t get going at all. In the changing room we said we were going to come out sharp and put it on them but, like I said, we just didn’t get going so it does feel like two points dropped. It’s just a gutter that we didn’t get the three points.”
Why did he feel the performance dropped after the break? “It’s hard to say what happened but I think it’s on us. We could control the game, in the first half we did that, defensively we looked as solid as anything.
“In the second half, I think we just started to drop off again and we invited the pressure.”
Downes said being part of the first-half display was enjoyable: “It was. To be fair, last week when we played here we were the same, we were popping it about, but it was the same story really, in the second half we just didn’t get going.
“It’s something we need to work on because we can’t be throwing away 1-0 leads.
“In the first half we could be 3-0 or 4-0 up. Like I say, it cost us in the end. If we’d put two of those chances away the game was done. We need to work on that.”
Will Keane scored Town’s goal, his second at St Andrew’s in successive weeks, hit the post and put in a fine all-round performance in the first half.
“He’s on fire, isn’t he?” Downes added. “It’s good to have him back to full fitness and back to his best. When he’s playing you can’t get near him. It’s good to have him back.”
The Brentwood-born midfielder says he’s enjoying wearing the captain’s armband having become the club's youngest ever skipper last week.
“I love it, I absolutely love it," he said. "It’s a real honour. For the gaffer to put his trust in me is unbelievable.
“I’m focused on the team at the minute. Obviously it’s an honour to lead them but we just needed to get the three points.”
He says manager Paul Lambert gave him the news out of the blue prior to last week’s match.
“Last Sunday morning I got it sprung on me,” he recalled. “I didn’t know what was going on, I was just sitting there and he said, ‘You’re captain!’. And was like ‘You what? Alright then!’
“But it’s an honour, it’s every kid’s dream. As a seven-year-old training at the academy, if you’d have said you’d be captaining in 12 years’ time I’d have bitten your hand off. It’s a real honour.”
He says he’d captained teams as a youngster: “Obviously in school teams and when we were younger we used to chop and change. I’ve always been around it so to do it for the first team and to leave the boys out, it’s a pleasure.”
What was the reaction of the rest of the squad when they found out he would be captaining? “They were just all taking the piss really! They were saying ‘Come on Skip!’.
“It’s good, we’ve got a few leaders in there so you could give the armband to anyone really. We’ve got a good group of lads. They supported me when the gaffer said it.”
Did it change his role on the field? “A little bit, I suppose you’ve got to be more vocal but not massively. It’s just an armband at the end of the day, isn’t it? You’ve got 11 players out there. I suppose it doesn’t really change my game or anything like that.
Downes admits he wasn’t aware of the protocol relating to being captain, not least having to go to the referee’s room in the run-up to the game.
“Do you know what? Last week I didn’t even know,” he laughed. “Stu [assistant manager Stuart Taylor] was like ‘Come on!’. I thought he meant to go and look at the pitch, so I’ve gone out to look at the pitch and he’s said, ‘Where are you?’ I didn’t know what was going on. It’s new to me at first-team level but I love it.”
The captaincy has also meant the responsibility of being the man representing Town to the officials during flash points in games.
“Obviously I haven’t got the best history when it comes to referees, getting booked usually every game,” he joked. “It’s something new to me, I’m still learning and hopefully I can get better at it.”
Town are now without a win in 90 minutes in five games in all competitions - although equally without losing in that time - and Downes admits that the last league victory - the 1-0 win at Rochdale in early November - seems a while ago, even if Town have only played three games in League One since then, all of which have been draws.
“It does feel like that as well, the boys were saying that as well,” he continued. “Once we get one, we’ll get going again and we’ll start firing again, I’m telling you.”
He added: “We’ve just got to keep going, get the winning mentality back and go from there.”
Looking back at last week’s on-penalties Leasing.com Trophy win at Peterborough, he had praise for the young side which won that tie.
“Unbelievable result, I didn’t see the game but I heard we played really well and it was a credit to them," he said. "The gaffer’s put trust in them as well, so it’s paid off.”
Moving on to Tuesday and the third and final match in the triple-header with Coventry at Portman Road, Downes says the Blues are desperate to win even if a long trip to either Plymouth or Bristol Rovers in the third round hardly gets the juices flowing.
“We need to get through it,” Downes added. “But the boys were saying, we’re not looking forward to [going to] Plymouth or Bristol Rovers - lovely, just what we want! But Tuesday is a game we’re looking to win.”
Photo: Action Images
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