Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny has described back-to-back Premier Division losses ahead of their crunch Champions League clash with Legia Warsaw as "unforgivable."
Kenny was furious after Wednesday night's 2-1 loss to Bray Wanderers, a result for which he could find no acceptable excuses. The Lilywhites boss understood why a changed side struggled to hit peak levels in Galway just three days after the exhilaration of knocking out BATE to reach a final Champions League play-off but he expected them to raise their game for the trip to Wicklow.
Instead, his side suffered successive defeats for the first time since 2013 and missed the opportunity to assert their position at the top of the Airtricity League.
They are now just six points clear of Cork City who have two games in hand; the Leesiders host Bohemians tonight before travelling to Derry on Monday and they now have the opportunity to put pressure on the leaders as Dundalk turn their minds to next week's first-leg meeting with Legia Warsaw at the Aviva Stadium.
Kenny was in no mood to discuss the impact of Bray disappointment on that fixture in the aftermath of a sloppy showing. "I don't care about next Wednesday (now), I've no interest at the moment," he said. "It's unforgivable to lose two matches like that. We've got to be better than that.
"Obviously it (Europe) is a factor but it shouldn't be. (We only lost) one game last year and two this year - Cork beat us twice, and we hadn't lost another one until Friday - so it's very, very careless from our point of view.
"On Friday, we were exhausted having given everything and unlucky but on Wednesday there were no excuses. We were 1-0 up and we had chances to go 2-0 up. We were playing in second gear and were good enough to win. But we conceded two from set-pieces and only have ourselves to blame."
Daryl Horgan's late dismissal - a straight red for chopping down Dylan Connolly - ended the night on an extremely sour note and Dundalk face a wait to find out if his suspension is extended to have an impact on the September 2 showdown with Cork.
Minds can now turn to the Legia game; the Polish champions also suffered a grim Wednesday by throwing away a 2-0 advantage to lose 3-2 in a cup tie away to Gornik Zabrze.
Unlike Dundalk, Legia have a league outing this weekend with Gornik Leczna the opponents tomorrow evening.