Simon Grayson thought that too many of his players failed to win their individual battles as Preston North End lost to Swindon Town.
The Lilywhites went down to only their fifth defeat of the season at the County Ground, thanks to a penalty from Michael Smith following a foul on Ben Gladwin by Neil Kilkenny.
And the gaffer believes that his team never got going for the majority of the match.
Speaking to the press after the game, Grayson said: “We are hugely disappointed that we have lost the game.
“It was difficult conditions, very blustery out there today and we huffed and puffed, didn’t really get going until we made the substitutions.
“I thought there was a lot of our players that were off it all the way through the team and when you have too many players that are off it, then you are going to find yourself under a little bit of pressure.
“Swindon are a good footballing team and we didn’t stop them from playing at times which we needed to do.
“We tried to change the team in terms of the system with the personnel, make the substitutions to try and get us back in at different points in the game, but it wasn’t to be.
“Just too many players were off it really.
“We are scratching our heads to try and find out why we have not been good enough today.
“We said to the players before and at half-time that we have got to get on the front foot more, we have to work hard, we have to make sure that we stop them from playing and we didn’t do that enough, because if they get in to a routine of playing, they can cause teams problems and we knew we had to start the second half a lot better than we had been in parts of the first half but we didn’t.
“We didn’t come out the traps quick enough, which allowed them to get into the game again and once they got the penalty it gave them something to hang on to – well not hang on to, that’s probably a bit unfair on Swindon to be fair, because they had a few more opportunities as the game wore on as well.
“We were on the back foot and too many of our players didn’t win their individual battles.
“We have to make sure that when we start a game, we win them individual battles and then that will lead to a collective team performance and too many were individuals today rather than a collective team performance.
“If you look at the key incident, it’s a penalty; I would have been disappointed if we had not got it.”
Despite the scoreline, there were a few positives for the manager, in particular the performances of Stuart Beavon from the bench and Declan Rudd who made several fine stops.
“I thought Stuart Beavon looked really sharp,” stated Grayson.
“I think he has looked extremely sharp in training, the reserve game he had on Tuesday as well, hence why we made the substitutions early to give them lads an opportunity – not necessarily because the lads that came off had done anything wrong, we just needed a different dimension, different type of play, allowed them ones that came on a little longer than the ten, 15 minutes they have had in the past.
“Stuart Beavon was very lively and influenced how we tried to get back into the game.
“We have a good squad and whoever is playing well and performing well in training will get the shirt on the Saturday or the Tuesday; it’s that simple.
“We said to the players before, regardless of what happens with the top two positions, we have got to maintain the level of performance on the Saturday, Tuesday, every day in training, if we are going to go into the Play-Offs, because we can’t just turn up and turn the tap back on and start performing.
“We have got to keep working hard and it is good that we have got a quick turnaround on Tuesday night, a tough game against Peterborough which gives us the opportunity to bounce back quickly.
“But we can’t be too critical of the players because we have only lost five games all season.”