After two defeats in four days, Preston North End defender Scott Wiseman admitted Simon Grayson’s men have let their standards slip.
North End failed to bounce back from Wednesday night’s 2-0 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy northern area final first-leg defeat to Walsall and suffered their second successive loss as Nigel Clough’s Sheffield United side triumphed 2-1.
The right-back believes the result will not harm their promotion prospects, despite PNE slipping down to fourth in the League One table.
But he feels the defeat may have bruised a few egos and has rocked him and his team-mates.
He said: “It is not a damaging result. It is just our standards that we have let slip and that is what is damaging to us as individuals in the team more than anything.
“This team’s standards are high, the players’ standards are high, the manager, the fans and the staff all have high standards.
“So if we don’t adhere to them then it is on our heads.”
Josh Brownhill’s stoppage-time goal set up a tense finish at a soggy Bramall Lane but Wiseman believes North End played into Clough’s hands as the Blades put on a counter-attacking masterclass.”
He said: “It is unusual really when you come away to somewhere that you end up being the dominant team. Then they want to counter-attack you.
“It is usually the other way round and unfortunately we were caught out.
“We know they like to play like that away from home.
“Maybe we have come here and given them what they wanted by being a bit too attacking.
“We went a bit more expansive trying to get a goal back after McNulty scored in the 52nd minute and unfortunately they caught us on the counter.
“We gave them what they wanted by trying to do the right thing.”
Wiseman believes PNE’s first-half performance was a good response to their Wednesday night dissapointment.
He said: “We were hoping to bounce back from the Walsall game and unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
“We gave a response in the first half, played well and I thought we were on our way to rectifying things.
“We came out the second half, started okay again, then they had a 15-minute period when they got the two goals and we couldn’t get back into the game until late on.”
The result leaves PNE six points adrift of league leaders Bristol City and allowed sixth-place United to close the gap on North End to nine points.
But Wiseman insists the side are not under pressure to get a result against Leyton Orient at Deepdale on Friday.
He said: “We go into each game under the same amount of pressure. That is the case it has been all season.”
Opposition boss Clough believes the result can fuel the Blades’ promotion push but believes PNE striker Kevin Davies was lucky not to get booked.
He said: “It was an old fashioned battle with a lot of tackles flying in – honest tackles. Kevin Davies got away with a few.
“PNE had a huge height advantage and so we made sure we didn’t give too many free-kicks away. We are now 12 points off second place with a game in hand, having had a bad run. It is a great win against top opposition – the timing is very important.”