Mark Yates admitted his Cheltenham Town team have paid the price for being too soft this season as they threw away a two-goal lead to crash 4-3 at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.
Goals from Troy Brown and Jermaine McGlashan put the Robins on course, but they conceded three goals in three minutes as the Dons stormed back.
Jason Taylor made it 3-3, but Jack Midson won it for Neal Ardley’s side in the 97th minute.
The result means the Robins have lost 28 points from winning positions this season – the worst in the division – and have thrown away 54 points in the past two campaigns.
“We have been too soft at times and I have to address it as soon as I can, whether that’s between now and the end of the season or next season because we can’t let this happen again,” Yates said.
“I am fuming and I don’t know how we have lost that game, but somehow we have.
“It was probably our best performance of the season, bar three goals in three minutes without the ball going out of play, straight from the kick-offs and again, it sums up our season.”
Cheltenham missed a good chance to go 3-0 up and less than three minutes later they were 3-2 down, leaving Yates perplexed. “We were outstanding for most of the match and we looked comfortable with chances galore,” he said.
“Jermaine McGlashan had a chance to put us 3-0 up but was half a yard wide and then three minutes later we're 3-2 down, which is baffling and crazy.
“We got ourselves back in it but then we've conceded in the 97th minute with a cross that we didn't deal with and a ridiculous goal again.
“Sometimes when you get beaten, the supporters can give the players or me a bit of stick and I understand that, but today they have clapped us off at the end and it’s hard to make sense of it to be honest.
“It is our soft underbelly again and we needed to be much stronger – the defending was woeful.”
Yates described Byron Harrison and McGlashan’s performances are “superb” as they caused problems for the Wimbledon defence through-
out, without taking enough of their chances. “Byron and Jermaine caused immense problems and were superb bar the chances they missed,” he said.
“I thought Byron was outstanding today but Jermaine could have had two goals, one in the first half and one in the second half.
“That is the nature of the game, but not going 3-0 up has cost us because they wouldn't have got back from that unless we really had pressed the panic button.
“I wanted to play with freedom and David Noble got us passing again, but we showed softness in the middle of the second half and it has cost us.
“There is not a great deal wrong, but for three minutes we didn’t look after ourselves. Without doubt we have shot ourselves in the foot too many times and of course I take responsibility for it, but I am not the one making silly mistakes and concentration has to last for 97 minutes.”
“We have to be better for this experience because I certainly don’t want to go through it again.”
Cheltenham play second-placed Scunthorpe United at home on Tuesday evening (7.45pm).