Centre-back James Tomkins feels that improvements have been made since the loss at home to Sunderland last week, but further work is needed after the Eagles lost 1-0 away at Stoke this afternoon, following a second half strike from Joe Allen.
“We looked a lot more solid today and that’s one positive we can take out of the game,” said the 27-year-old. “It was so important after last week that we stayed solid and protected and I think we did that today.
“We’ve been putting it in [in training] hard this past week, like normal weeks, and it showed today – we were good all around the pitch today mostly. The clean sheets will come if we keep defending like that but we need to get better in the final third. [Peter] Crouch can be quite awkward but we dealt with him quite well.”
Part of that extra defensive cover was thanks to January transfer window signing Luka Milivojevic who made his debut today after receiving his work permit earlier this week and the former West Ham United player was quick to praise the defensive midfielder.
“Luka is a physical lad and puts himself about which is nice,” said Tomkins about the Serbian international. “He offers us a bit of protection at the back which is important, especially for the games coming up. He offered us a lot today and it was a good debut.”
Despite the extra protection afforded, Stoke City managed to break through the Palace rear-guard in the 67th minute as Joe Allen fired home low past Welsh international teammate Wayne Hennessey. The goal came as Palace enjoyed a spell of possession as they built towards opening their account.
“We dominated the second half a lot,” said Tomkins. “Their goal came in a period play that we were dominating and showed how things don’t really go our way at the minute. Another time it might not have gone in and we would have got a point and we would have taken it.
“They’ve had one shot on target in the second half and it’s gone in, it’s just one of those things - hopefully we can turn the corner.”
With two weeks off due to the FA Cup weekend, Tomkins and his side face Middlesbrough at Selhurst Park in two weeks as they aim to bounce back from two defeats in a row and grab a vital three points.
“It’s another big game next,” he said. “We’ll keep going and there is no better man in charge [than Sam] to get us out of this situation. We all believe in him and all the lads believe in each other; we’ve got a good dressing room with a lot of experience in there.
“That will be important with the games coming up and in this situation - we’ll stay positive and hopefully get a big win in the next game.”