An opportunity goes begging as Derby County fail to fire
DEFEAT by Blackburn Rovers in the fourth round of the FA Cup was a missed opportunity for Derby County, says manager Nigel Clough.
The Rams had hoped their solid home form this season would be an advantage and see them into the fifth round for the third time in five years.
But Rovers had other ideas and won 3-0 at Pride Park Stadium on Saturday.
Clough said: "The lads are very disappointed because during the build-up this week, we thought we had a good chance of getting through the tie.
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"So, yes, it does feel like a missed opportunity.
"It was not our day. The game just didn't go well for us. Sometimes you have those games.
"The final ball again let us down, especially in the first half.
"We got in good positions around their box but we never got a shot off and the crosses and set-plays were below par.
"It was that sort of frustrating day for us.
"I thought we hit more misplaced passes in one game than we have in the rest of the season.
"We had a disrupted week's training with the weather. After the game, we asked the lads how they felt physically and they said they felt OK.
"I think it was the way the game went that wore us down.
"We were as flat as we have been at home this season but you have to try and hang on in games.
"Blackburn were not brilliant in the first half. With all the quality and ability they have, they were not fantastic but they had enough experience to hang on in there.
"They waited for a mistake, went in one up at half-time and started playing from there.
"At 2-0 and 3-0 they looked a different side but it wasn't happening at 0-0.
"There was nothing in the game at that stage and then the goal just before half-time gave them a big boost going in at the break.
"I thought Blackburn's quality shone through in the end.
"Once the second goal went in and the third very quickly after that, you really saw their quality come through."
Clough named an unchanged team from that which drew against Nottingham Forest in the Championship a week earlier.
Praised for showing respect to the FA Cup competition, he said: "We haven't got an awful lot below that.
"We certainly can't put two sides out, or anything like that.
"It was our best available side and we wanted to go as far as we can in the Cup."