Simon Grayson held his hand up and admitted that Preston North End had fallen far below standard in their away defeat to Walsall.
The PNE boss has called for an immediate positive response to the first league loss of the season in tomorrow night’s clash with Chesterfield at Deepdale.
In an afternoon to forget at the Bescot Stadium, North End went down 3-1 and played the last 21 minutes with 10 men after Jordan Hugill was shown a red card for aiming a head butt at Saddlers centre-back Andy Butler.
The resulting three-match suspension for Hugill, coupled with an injury suffered by Andy Little – Hugill had come on as substitute for him – leaves the Lilywhites light on strikers for the visit of the Spireites.
Grayson told the Evening Post: “I didn’t think that we performed anywhere near to the standards we set ourselves.
“We started both halves poorly and gave away a poor first goal.
“Joe Garner’s goal got us back into it and we started to play a little bit better,
“Then we conceded again straight after half-time which was disappointing.
“We knew that Walsall were a good team and like to pass the ball around.
“But we were the masters of our downfall at times, anything that could go wrong did go wrong in terms of injuries, sendings-off, missed chances and individual performances.”
PNE were chasing the game from the seventh minute when Romaine Sawyers netted the hosts’ opener. Garner’s equaliser nine minutes before half-time was superbly struck from outside the box.
But the Saddlers got back in front early in the second half and later added a third.
Said Grayson: “We did not win enough individual battles, whether that was our wide players taking on their full-backs, our full-backs stopping their wide players, the midfield players up against theirs.
“You have to win those battles whether you are Real Madrid or a Conference team.
“Once you have won those battles the football takes care of itself.
“It was a disappointing day at the office and we need to get a reaction tomorrow against Chesterfield.”
Grayson had no issues with the red card for Hugill although was not happy with Walsall keeper Richard O’Donnell getting himself involved in the aftermath.
“Jordan was foolish to react like he did,” said Grayson.
“He reacted to getting a slight knee in the back from Butler and then there was the coming together of two heads.
“Butler used his experience and Jordan shouldn’t have put himself in a position where he gave the referee the opportunity to send him off.
“The most irritating thing of the situation was their keeper getting involved. From 40 yards away he decided to run over and get involved in something he didn’t need to.
“I told him that after the game. He was probably lucky to stay on the pitch.”
Asked about the possibility of a dip into the loan market to cover the loss of Hugill and maybe Little, Grayson said: “It is probably too early to look into that. We will assess where we are with everyone and see where we go.”