Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough assesses tonight's performance following a 2-1 defeat against Bradford City at One Call Stadium.
The visitors’ captain Richie Smallwood scored in the first-half to put the Bantams ahead and former Stag Andy Cook doubled City’s advantage on 53 minutes.
The amber and blue were given a lifeline, however, when Matthew Platt was sent off after a second yellow card and despite Will Swan scoring four minutes later, Mansfield were unable to find an equaliser.
Speaking to iFollow Stags after the game, Nigel said: "I didn't think we came out of the blocks in the first-half.
“[There] might have been a hangover from the efforts on Saturday and the travelling and everything. We tried to freshen it up [tonight] with a few fresh pairs of legs.
“Bradford were sharper than us and better than us in the first-half.
“We never really got going on the ball. We played the formation that we’ve played here that’s been successful quite a bit with a diamond but that requires certain things; people running in behind and being good on the ball. I’ve never seen us give the ball away so much in the first-half.
“I thought we were a bit rushed and [we] were [playing] at 100mph and not composed enough.
“When you go 1-0 down especially at home you have to make an effort to be composed and all of a sudden we were kicking it out of play, wasting throw-ins [and] we can’t afford [to do] that."
The home side made two substitutions at the break as they looked to get a foothold back in the game, introducing Lucas Akins and Jordan Bowery as well as changing formation.
“I thought we pushed them back [more in the second-half] and conceding that second goal was a massive setback for us,” said Nigel.
“For an experienced defender like James Perch to be done [for Bradford’s second goal] has damaged us.
“We get a point out of that game if we don’t give that goal away.
“We have thirty [to] forty minutes. We get the [first] goal and then we huff and we puff but we don’t make good enough decisions around the box to create more chances.
“We knew Hawks [Oli Hawkins] couldn’t do more than ten minutes or so. We had to be patient.
“We got a goal back before he came on the pitch but when he does come on the pitch he wants quality service in the box.
“I thought Quinny [Stephen Quinn] put some good balls in the box."
Nigel gave an injury update on Riley Harbottle and Stephen McLaughlin following tonight's league encounter with the Bantams: “[Riley picked up a] thigh [injury], strained his thigh muscle. We’ll see what it looks like but I think it’ll be a few weeks [that he will be out injured].
“He [Stephen McLaughlin] had a scan on his ankle [and] he’s going to be out [for] a few weeks."