Matlock Town midfielder Naill McManus says the players must take full-responsibility for their FA Cup exit to nine man Whitley Bay.
The Gladiators battled back from 2-0 down to go 3-2 up in extra-time after Whitley Bay had two men sent off.
But Matlock amazingly let that lead slip when the home side levelled in the 119th minute, before winning 4-2 on penalties.
“It’s no fault of the gaffer, the players have to take responsibility for this,” McManus admitted.
”It’s a lack of proper game management on our part, we shouldn’t keep giving ourselves mountains to climb.
“We got ourselves back in the tie and were in control, but then failed to see it out.
“We’re all gutted just as the club officials and fans will be, there’s no excuses.
“At 3-2 up all of a sudden we stopped doing the basics. Whitley Bay went gung ho but we didn’t keep the ball half as well as we should have done and we’ve got to learn quickly from this else it’ll come and bite us again.
“We were dominating the game and let it slip, we did the same against Halesowen and then conceded a silly goal which had us on the back foot.”
It was a costly defeat for Matlock as they missed out on £3,000 in prize money as well as potentially thousands more had they beaten North West Counties League Congleton Town in the next round.
But McManus feels Matlock will bounce back well from their FA Cup heartache.
“I’m sure we can bounce back, there’s tons of ability in our squad but we’ve got to master the game management aspect and I’m sure we will,” he said.
“We’re still in a half decent position in the league and the important thing now is picking up three points on Saturday and getting on a good run in the league.”
Both of the Gladiators next opponents have not enjoyed the best of starts to the campaign.
Twentieth-placed Colwyn Bay, relegated from Conference North last Spring, visit the Autoworld Arena on Saturday, while Tuesday night sees Matlock travel to second-bottom Grantham Town, who are yet to win after Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat at Sutton Coldfield in their seventh league outing.
Micky Harcourt completes his three match ban in these two fixtures following his red card against Ilkeston while Liam Gaughan, who also missed the trip to Whitley Bay through injury, will need assessing ahead of the weekend.