Loxwood manager David Cocoracchio has praised his side’s improved defensive performances, despite being knocked out of two cup competitions in a week, writes Sam Morton.
The Magpies’ 2-1 defeat in the SCFA RUR Charity Cup at the hands of Haywards Heath on Tuesday night, was followed by a penalty shootout defeat to Pagham after a 0-0 stalemate, in the Peter Bentley Challenge Cup but Cocoracchio doesn't believe his defence is the issue.
He said: “The game (against Pagham), overall, across the 90 minutes was a very tight game and there was fairly limited opportunities for both teams.
“Both defences played very well and we both had periods in the game where we had possession and were stronger.
“There wasn't a lot of clear cut chances, and 0-0 was probably the fair result.
“In the second half of extra time, we created two fantastic opportunities that both fell to Tiago Andrade, with one hitting the crossbar and one straight at the keeper with just the keeper to beat.
“Everyone, including their bench, thought that would be the one to clinch it, but unfortunately that wasn't the case, and it went to penalties and as we all know they are a bit of a lottery.
Cocoracchio was particularly pleased with the vast improvement in the form of his defenders, pointing towards the remarkable stat that it was the first time Pagham had not scored all season.
He added: “I am pleased from the point of view that we played Haywards Heath on Tuesday night and then Pagham on Saturday, so we have played two very strong teams at the top of our division.
“From half time on Tuesday night, we have now not conceded a goal in 165 minutes of football against two very strong teams so that was particularly pleasing.
“To play the way we did defensively, which has generally been a weakness of ours, I'm certainly pleased that we are defending a lot better as a team. It is also the first time Pagham have been stopped from scoring this season in all competitions.”
The cup exits also haven’t affected the manager’s confidence ahead of their upcoming league games against East Preston and Crawley Down Gatwick, but stressed his side must be at their best despite their current injury crisis.
“What this league is showing already this year is there is no such thing as an easy game anymore” he said.
“Crawley Down recently held Haywards Heath to a draw, so that shows their team spirit and they will be a very competitive outfit.
“If you are complacent going into any game, with anything other than 100% focus and commitment, you will end up on the wrong end of the wrong result.
“East Preston tomorrow have got a young team and are going to work extremely hard. They will be very well set up and will work hard for each other and pose a threat.
“However, we’re going into the game with a huge injury crisis.
“There are six/seven players out at the moment and we haven't got a big squad so it’s tough times for us at the moment. We’ve got to go there and scrap it out.”