Gary Rowett felt Derby County were let down by a lack of composure at Craven Cottage on Monday night, but he believes that his side gave everything in defeat against Fulham in the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final.
The Cottagers came from behind to secure their place at Wembley thanks to second-half goals from Ryan Sessegnon and Denis Odoi.
Rowett was reluctant to criticise his players, but he admitted that he wanted to see more from his team on the night, especially in the final third.
He told RamsTV: “I can’t be critical of the players, they have given everything. Tonight, we gave everything but it just wasn’t quite enough.
“If we look at the season as a whole, in some ways, many of the things that have disappointed us in the season have just cost us tonight.
“We have to assume that they will play with good composure and quality, and we made some really poor decisions during the game.
“Ultimately, our decision-making cost us tonight. When we had the chance to pass the ball, we looked edgy and we didn’t handle the ball well enough.”
The Rams struggled to create opportunities on the night but they were comfortable in the first-half as they dealt with consistent Fulham attacks.
A major setback arrived when Sessegnon struck just two minutes after the break, and Rowett was disappointed with the quality of both goals that his side conceded.
He said: “Fulham are a good side, we know that. They were the favourites and you can see why, we knew that they would cause us problems.
“Odoi is unmarked, so it’s incredibly disappointing and it means that we haven’t done our jobs properly.
“They are two poor goals. We showed more defensive concentration in the first leg, but in the second, we didn’t do that.
“To get to half-time at 0-0, we felt that we had to step out a bit more and be more proactive.
“I said to the players before the game and I said at half-time that we had to attack with more quality and composure, because you could see that we kept giving the ball back to Fulham.
“Ultimately, if you do that, then you have to hope for the perfect defensive performance and I don’t think that you can expect that twice with such a short turnaround.”
On reflection, Rowett believes that this season has been one of moderate success, and he also praised the mental strength that his team showed to get themselves into the top-six.
“We know that we put ourselves in a very difficult position with our form after Christmas, but had got ourselves into a good position with our form earlier in the season,” he added.
“I said to the players that we showed a lot of character to get into the play-offs in the first place.
“It’s been a little bit of a rollercoaster season for the fans, and once again, to get into the top-six, we have to say that it is reasonable success, but we wanted to go further.”