Steven Pressley issued a ‘must do better’ warning to his Fleetwood Town squad after their confidence-bashing 2-1 defeat at Bradford.
The Bantams landed a knockout blow when Steven Davies scored in the third minute of stoppage time at Valley Parade, after Town had dominated and had led through Jamille Matt’s goal just before the hour.
The defeat meant Pressley’s men remain in the League One relegation zone but they should never have left with nothing, having played the better football and sustained lengthy periods of pressure in the swirling West Yorkshire snow.
It looked like their relegation fears might finally be easing when the unlikely figure of Matt, all but written off at Highbury, rose to head home Jimmy Ryan’s clever looped pass.
But Town’s ability to shoot themselves in the foot knows no bounds – Billy Knott was allowed space to cross for battering ram James Hanson to head the equaliser eight minutes later.
And at the death subs Kyel Reid, Wes Thomas and Davies combined for the winner, the latter tapping into an empty net after a purposeful breakaway that left Pressley stewing.
The Town boss said: “We can’t lose that game, it’s as simple as that.
“When you put so much into it, you can’t lose it in the manner that we did.
“A couple of things I spoke about before coming here were the mentality of the players and doing the basics of the game well. And when we go 1-0 up away from home we have to have the mentality to see the game out.
“Then there are the basics of the game. For both their goals our back four went too deep on the keeper’s kicks and we paid the price for it.”
Town’s play from box to box deserved reward but their lack of creativity in the final third, combined with those two defensive hiccups, again dented their survival hopes on a day Blackpool pulled five points clear of them with victory over Gillingham.
Pressley added: “It’s disappointing because there were so many positives.
“We handled the conditions extremely well but we’ve got to win these games.”
And Pressley has made it clear that such performances cannot continue to yield no points.
“We have to change it,” he said. “I said that to the players after the game.
“We can’t continue to play in the manner we do and not win games.
“We have to change that mentality We have to win these games and that’s the disappointment.
“When you ask me whether the players’ attitude was right – it was terrific.
“But two moments when we lacked concentration and the mentality to see the game out have cost us.
“We have to make sure that stops and we have to make sure we start winning the games we should be winning.”
And the manager had a clear message for his squad: “Do what you’re doing but do it better
“We just have to continue to do what we are doing but get better at it.
“That is from taking the moments to absolute concentration, not being satisfied with 88 minutes of good defending. That’s what we’re on about.”
Pressley reserved particularl criticism for the way both goals were conceded, Fleetwood simply switching off to long balls forward from keeper Ben Williams.
He said: “We hardly gave them an opportunity but the two moments have proved costly.
“You can’t defend by doing the basics right for 88 minutes. Every minute has to be defended properly.”