Michael Duff was happy with his side’s battling performance in a 3-1 EFL Cup loss at Leeds United on Wednesday, and called designated penalty-taker Callum Styles' crucial miss an ‘occupational hazard.’
The Reds went 2-0 down then replied before the missed penalty and Premier League Leeds netted another in the second half.
Duff told the Chronicle: “We’re never happy to lose but there are positives. We started the game really well then the response to going 2-0 down was excellent. We were undone by a couple of bits of Premier League quality and a couple of refereeing decisions. The first and third goals were brilliant, and we have conceded some worldies this week. There are loads of things to build from.
“We’re trying not to get carried away. In a week we’ve gone from being the best team in the world to the worst to half a decent team again. We can only focus on the way we go about our work. The main thing we’ve talked about this week is the resilience and mentality. That’s the most positive thing I will take out of the game today.”
Styles hit the post with a penalty at 2-1. Duff said: “It’s an occupational hazard. If you take penalties, you will miss some. Centre halves will get broken noses, Brad (Collins) plays a high line as goalkeeeper and will get lobbed a couple oof times in his career like Saturday.
“It was difficult to step up. (Illan) Meslier is big. He (Styles) is disappointed but I thought his overall performance was good.
“He was the designated penalty-taker. I don’t want players having a scrap about it. Everyone knew, if he was on the pitch, he was the penalty-taker.
“While we were deciding who the penalty-taker would be in training, he never missed one and put everything in the top corner. It is what it is.
“I don’t think his confidence is low because he missed penalty. He’s been good, he’s played every minute, he’s played different positions.”
Duff said he thought it was the correct decision to give a penalty for Leeds’ second goal but that Styles should have had another at 2-1.
“The galling thing is it was compounded by them going down the other and scoring. There’s no guarantee we would have scored the penalty because we had just missed one. The odds would say we might not miss two in a game.”
Mads Andersen got Barnsley’s goal – their first from a set piece this season.
Duff said: “We were really close in the last few weeks. We were unlucky on Saturday and the goalkeeper made good saves. It’s something we work on and it’s an area of the game you have to chip in with.”
Striker Devante Cole said: “We can take a lot of positives. All the players gave a good account of themselves and that’s the main thing at a place like this. We went 2-0 down and it could have been three or four. But we all stood up, got the goal, missed the penalty and it could have been a different game. He (Styles) is naturally disappointed to miss a penalty but he came out second half and should have had another one which shows his reaction.”