A missed opportunity was how Mansfield Town boss John Dempster described his side’s late 2-0 FA Cup Second Round defeat at 10-man Shrewsbury.
The home side played for half an hour with 10 men but snatched victory with goals in the 88th and 95th minutes.
Dempster said he had felt the trip to a side in a league above the Stags had represented a chance for progress to the Third Round – and the chance to land a tie against a Premier League club.
But the late heartbreak meant the Stags were denied even the chance of a second bite of the cherry in a replay at One Call Stadium.
“To play for half an hour against 10 men; you won’t get a better opportunity. So, yes, I am gutted to be out of the cup. We are 15th in the table and out of the FA Cup so over a period of time it hasn’t been good enough and the buck stops with me.
“I always look at myself and want to improve. It’s important that the players do the same because over the course of the period I have been in charge it has not been good enough and I take responsibility for that.
“At crucial moments in games when you expect characters to step up and make the difference, we havn’t. Today what an opportunity to progress to the next round and in crucial moments we didn’t do what counts.
“It hasn’t been a good return (on the owners’ investment in the squad) for the last four seasons. The owners deserve a better return. It hasn’t been good enough. It is gut-wrenching for me. I will always look at myself, but it is vitally important for the future of this football club that the players do the same.
“I have made mistakes on the way, I have learnt no end. You have got to learn quickly because it is a results business. I will always face a challenge face on but there is no hiding from the fact we have not been good enough over a period of time and today we fell well short.”
Dempster was upset that his side was “soft” as they were twice hit on the break for the two goals.
I have felt the pressure since I was given the job. It is a pressure I put on myself, never mind the external factors. There are bigger and better managers from this level up to the Premier League who have lost their jobs because of results and our results have not been good enough. Of course, I am confident in my own ability that I can learn from mistakes and put things right, but there is no hiding away – this is a pressure cooker environment. I was well aware of that before I took the job and I will always face a challenge head on.