'We beat ourselves' laments Lyttle
Sligo Rovers manager Ger Lyttle bemoaned his sides errors that assisted Cork City along the way to their 4-1 victory over the Bit o'Red at The Showgrounds last week.
"I don't think Cork beat us, we beat ourselves," Lyttle said afterwards. "We started off actually in the first couple of minutes on the front foot, and then after that it was mistakes that cost us the game."
"The first goal, we haven't dealt with the cross, and they got a free header. The second goal, I'd like to see it again.
"If Sharkey's pushed one of their players for no reason, is a penalty if it is the case. The third goal, Kyle's passed it back and there's a lapse in concentration.
"Christmas came early for Cork tonight," said Lyttle. "It was very disappointing from our point of view in terms of the goals we conceded. We tried to have a go at Cork in the second half but it just wasn't enough.
"When you're playing against the league champions and you gift them goals, you have no chance. It's hard enough playing them without giving them opportunities."
Conceding goals early was a problem for Sligo Rovers throughout the 2017 season, and it was an issue that Lyttle worked hard to eradicate.
Rovers were 2-0 down after 15 minutes against the champions, and were 3-0 down straight after the re-start.
"Your game plan is out the window once you concede and you're having to adjust, you're thinking about subs to try and change things. It's something I'll not accept as manager, I take pride in being hard to beat and tonight we were too easy to beat.
"We're very disappointed. We spoke before the game about being on it and being focused, and concentration levels have to be high when you're playing against good players. Tonight obviously our concentration let us down."
He continued: "It might sound stupid but, watching the game from the side, I think in the second half we were the better team. We had a few chances. Our decision-making maybe in the final third wasn't great."
Given Rovers' recent form against Cork City, one would forgive Lyttle for being confident that his side would take points from this game.
"To gift them goals is soul-destroying at times when you've worked so hard at things. I honestly believed that we would get something from the game. I felt confident that we could get something. When you go 2-0 down inside the first 15 minutes, your back is against the wall and players are on edge and they start doing silly things because fans are getting on the edge of their seat because they're not happy and rightly so."
"It's one step forward, two steps back," said Lyttle. "After such a good performance and a good three points against Derry, we've come here with all the hype but it wasn't to be.
"But we'll move on. Cork got their three points. Did they overly deserve it? Probably slightly because we've given it to them, but they haven't had to work terribly hard for their goals."
Rhys McCabe was dismissed in the 89th minute for using abusive language towards fourth official Wayne McDonnell, and Lyttle was making no excuses for the midfielder's behaviour.
"It was very silly on Rhys' behalf. You expect more from Rhys, he's a top player and a top professional and tonight he was frustrated. It was silly from him and he knows it."