Gary Rowett felt poor-decision making cost Derby County in the latter stages of their Carabao Cup Second Round meeting with Barnsley.
The Tykes recovered from a goal down twice before going on to secure a 3-2 victory at Oakwell on Tuesday evening and earn a Wembley date with Tottenham Hotspur in the next round of the competition.
Johnny Russell and Mason Bennett had put the Rams 2-1 up and, heading into the final 20 minutes of the contest in South Yorkshire, Rowett’s men were comfortable.
But Tom Bradshaw’s equaliser swung the game in the hosts’ favour and gave Barnsley the momentum to clinch their winner, through Adam Hammill, when it appeared extra-time was looming.
Rowett, who made 11 changes to the starting XI that defeated Hull City 5-0 last Friday night, felt his players only had themselves to blame for losing the match from the position they were in.
“I thought in the first 15 minutes of the game, they caused us some problems just by their quick movement and their intensity with which they played,” Rowett told RamsTV as he assessed the contest.
“You would expect that. They are a young team with lots of energy in how they play, but I thought that we coped with that quite well.
“We settled really well into the game and got ourselves a goal up, but we are really disappointed with the goals that we conceded.
“I keep saying it, you wouldn’t expect us to concede those goals, particularly the first goal from a set-piece, which I would expect our senior defenders to deal with comfortably.
“We then scored another good goal to get us to 2-1 and from then, I felt we got to a stage in the game where we looked really comfortable and I actually thought that Barnsley had ran out ideas and energy.
“We made a poor decision to concede and that goal gave them a lift, some energy and some momentum to get that third goal.
“I’m really disappointed with the two goals because we got into a really good position where we looked comfortable and then we threw the game away.”
Result aside, there were a handful of positives for the Rams’ manager to take away from the match.
Notably, George Thorne made his first competitive appearance since May 2016, whilst Max Bird, a 16-year-old first-year scholar, made his senior bow and impressed over the 80 minutes he played alongside Thorne in the middle of the park.
Callum Guy replaced him for the final 10 minutes to also make his first team debut and Rowett was pleased with what he saw from all three players.
He said: “I thought both Max (Bird) and George (Thorne) acquitted themselves really well.
“In the first ten minutes, the game was really quick, as you would expect, and it took a bit of time for a 16-year-old who hasn’t played football at first-team level before and George, who has not played first-team football for a long time, to get up to speed.
“I felt after that spell, though, that we grew into the game and both George and Max did some really good things.
“Max Bird showed some really good composure for a 16-year-old, but he would have learnt an awful lot as well about the intensity of the game and how quick the first-team game is.
“George also showed great composure. We know that he’s comfortable on the ball, it’s just some of those movements out of possession that might take him a little while to get used to.
“There was some good attacking play as well. I thought we caused Barnsley some problems, we just didn’t do it for long enough.”
He added: “I was pleased to see Callum Guy get out there.
“With the midfield, I felt more comfortable resting both Bradley Johnson and Tom Huddlestone because injuries to them could have caused us a big problem going forward.
“It was a risk that we could take, but I still felt that we had enough on the pitch.”