Clarke rues slow start

16 September 2012 06:14
Boss disappointed after first defeat

Steve Clarke blamed a slow start at Craven Cottage as he suffered his first defeat in charge of the Baggies as Fulham cruised to a 3-0 victory.

First half goals from Fulham new boy Dimitar Berbatov saw the hosts go into the break 2-0 up and with a man advantage after Peter Odemwingie was shown a straight red card for violent conduct.

Ten-man Albion searched for a way back into the game after the break but were caught on the counter attack late on when Steve Sidwell smashed home from close range.

Baggies boss Steve Clarke claimed Albion’s slow start against Fulham saw them on the back foot from the early stages.

“The biggest disappointment out of the first-half was that we lost a second goal right before half-time,” he said. “I felt we needed to get to half-time at 1-0, and that was a message I was trying to get to the players.  “I feel sorry for Billy Jones because he made a fantastic run forwards and almost equalised for us.  “He made a 90-yard recovery run and, as he got back there, he was probably feeling a little bit tired, hung a leg out, and conceded a penalty.  “It made the second half more difficult.  “I was happy with the second half performance.  “We approached the game well in the second half.  “We tried to cause a few problems and I think we succeeded.  “Given the balance of possession we could have nicked a goal.  “We spoke at half-time that if we could make it 2-1 it would maybe become a nervous afternoon for Fulham.  “It didn’t quite work out that way and they got the third goal, which I felt was maybe an unfair reflection on the second half – but certainly not in the game because Fulham deserved to win.” 

Clarke refused to blame striker Odemwingie for his moment of madness, but conceded the sending off hindered Albion’s attempts to get back into the game at 1-0 down.

“Peter’s sending-off certainly didn’t help the afternoon,” Clarke added.

“But to be honest I was disappointed with the way we started the game.  “I thought we allowed Fulham to get too much control of the game and they passed the ball better than we did.  “We started slowly and we suffered for that.  “We lost the goal and losing Peter compounded the problems.”  “But we’re all human.  “Everyone has got emotions.  “He felt there should have been a free-kick against him.  “The red mist obviously came down – and he’ll take his punishment.  “It’s a three-game ban.  “I’m sure the club have got a disciplinary process that he’ll go through and we’ll move on.  “In football it happens – people get sent-off."

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