KENNY SHIELS claims his Derry City players must show a greater desire to win games, accusing them of 'caving in' after Dundalk's equalising goal in the emphatic 4-1 loss at Brandywell.
While the City boss felt the margin of Dundalk's win wasn't a fair reflection and perhaps flattered the visitors, he was frustrated with how his side reacted after losing their early lead.
Darren Cole had handed the Candy Stripes a dream start with a stunning finish on 12 minutes but two goals in quick succession from Brian Gartland and Robbie Benson handed Dundalk the initiative.
And the Lilywhites went on to control the game and then clinically put Derry to the sword as the home side folded. The defeat ended Derry's seven game unbeaten run at Brandywell but the manner of the loss hurt Shiels the most.
"They have a massive squad and have strength and power and physique and they have desire as well which we have to take a look at," said Shiels.
"That's not why we lost the match. We lost the match because we caved in after they scored.
"The first goal, the foul at the corner (on Rory Patterson) was the turning point and it put them in a buoyant mood and they showed us how to recover momentum, take it on and clinically finish us off.
"We can't make excuses. We have to stand up and take it on the chin. It just wasn't good enough! You can't cave in like that and go missing.
"We're always wanting to play when we have the ball and we have to work when he haven't got the ball. It's so bloody frustrating.
"It was looking so good. We were well on top at 1-0. We just seemed to cave in. At 1-0 we were bossing the game.
"Rory Patterson is picking up Brian Gartland and they foul him.," said Shiels about Dundalk's equaliser. "They sandwich him between two players. They call it a block but I call it a foul and the referee wasn't able to see that for some reason. And then it's 1-1 after it takes a deflection.
"They score another one and the wee man (Benson) gets in on goal. The psychology of that, from being 1-0 up and looking like adding to it and all of a sudden we're 2-1 down and it kills them mentally.
"We couldn't get them picked up in the second half. I was really, really disappointed at how flat they were."
Two games in the space of four days against the two best teams in the country appears to have taken its toll on the Derry players who looked jaded in the second half. However, Shiels refused to use fatigue as an excuse as he looks to bounce back when they travel to St Patrick's Athletic on Friday night with the Saints sitting directly behind them in fifth place.
"People will make excuses about too many games but they were flat and they had just taken the momentum from us and shifted it in their favour.
"Obviously the scoreline flattered them but it's still very disappointing to lose by the scoreline we did.
"We got a corner kick and it's the second phase and Jack (Doyle) gives it away and plays it into their player and they counter attack us and score.
"The fourth was in the dying embers of the game which wasn't a fair reflection. We just have to take stock."