Neal Ardley was frustrated to see his Notts County side concede a crucial goal from a set piece in Friday’s 2-1 loss to MK Dons.
David Wheeler opened the scoring for the promotion challengers from a corner midway through the first half, causing the Magpies to chase the game before Chuks Aneke doubled the advantage on the counter-attack.
Ben Barclay scored in the dying moments to give Notts a glimmer of hope, but there was no time to mount a comeback and Ardley felt the contest was decided by MK’s opener.
“A set piece cost us the game,” he said. “That was the key moment that changed things.
“We had to work incredibly hard to contain them and look to make chances for ourselves, which we did, and then we were undone when we were trying to organise the marking following their substitution.
“MK Dons have got quality players who are proven at this level so it was always going to be a tough game but I have to look at the effort my team put in.
“They gave it everything. At times we might lack quality and have nerves or anxiety but we have to give our all and the lads did that against a very good side who are at the top of the league.
“I wanted a reaction from last week and I got it in the effort and intensity but we played against a strong team today and they punished the mistakes we made.”
Notts are back in action in three days’ time when they head to Crawley on Easter Monday and the gaffer says they must quickly turn attention to the Red Devils.
“We have to recover really quickly and go again,” urged Ardley.
“It’s another opportunity to give ourselves a chance to take this down to the wire and save our season.
“The boys are in all weekend and we have to come up with a way of recovering the group and getting them ready to earn a victory on Monday.
“It’s hard to win games when you’ve only done that eight times throughout the campaign, but we have to focus on winning at least two of our last three matches to save our season.”