Chris Beech admitted Carlisle United are still trying to “find their legs” after their second game back from a long lay-off ended in defeat to Forest Green.
The visitors won 2-1 at Brunton Park to edge in front of the Cumbrians in a tight promotion race.
Beech said it was important United reflected on the reasons they lost to Mark Cooper’s men.
But he also said it should not be forgotten that Carlisle are still dealing with the aftermath of an enforced four-week spell without a game.
“I’ve just spoken to the boys – they’re very disappointed but they’ve got to take stock,” the head coach said.
“They’ve been through the mill. Jon [Mellish] is trying to find his lungs again; there are lots of people who’ve been infected [with Covid-19], and who knows what it does to you?
“We’re carrying on in our sport, trying our hardest here to gain our three points for Carlisle United. He has to try and find his legs again, and so have a few others. And he will because he’s honest and will work hard in getting that.
“That’s where we are at the moment. It’s very difficult for us. We can’t play Saturday [because the game at Cheltenham is off] but we’ve not got what we want here. We have to go home and we’ve all got to deal with it.”
Aaron Collins put Forest Green ahead from the penalty spot after Callum Guy brought down Nicky Cadden.
After sub Gime Toure levelled with his first Blues league goal, Odin Bailey won it for the visitors with a free-kick following a foul by Rhys Bennett.
Beech admitted United lost aspects of their shape in those key moments, though he felt they were hard done by when Brennan Dickenson had a goal chalked off for a foul.
He said: “In football there’s no divine right to win any game. You have to be respectful of the sport we work in. Forest Green are a good team, they’ve done the double on us so well done to them.
“I just felt within the game there was never any real clear-cut chances for them. In the second half we were pushing really well and substitutes made a good difference.
“We were probably a little bit down in terms of change of pace and speed to get the ball back or do things on the ball, especially in terms of attacking prowess.
“I thought the substitutes took it up a notch. We found a good equalising goal but we gave up the opportunity to probably turn that into our win straight away.
“You could see by the reactions of the players that they were up for it. The ref has given them a penalty and, looking at it, [the challenge] is slightly in the box so you can’t argue about that.
“I’m really confused about Brennan’s situation, his goal; if there’s a foul it’s on Brennan – it’s a penalty for us, because their player barges Brennan.
“We don’t go down screaming. We carry on and play. Because of that, we’ve been disadvantaged, because it’s a great goal.
“It was great to see Gime score his first league goal, and he was unfortunate to hit the post with his header, Ozzy [Zanzala] is unfortunate after getting across people in the six-yard box, which is good to see – centre-forward play – and unfortunate it went straight to the goalkeeper when it could have gone anywhere.
“There were a couple of other things in the box we didn’t quite get right. Joe Riley was excellent for the goal, there were some really good, positive things but ultimately we’ve been beaten and we like winning.
“It’s hard to take but it’s part of the sport we work in, we have to understand why we’ve lost, try and reflect on it to make us better, and I am very respectful of Forest Green, but we’ve got to make sure we look at why we ended up not being in the position to win the game.”
Beech said United were not “clean” in some of their work which led to the Forest Green counter-attacks that produced their goals.
“You have to have control to waves of attacks, on turnovers and things like that. We have to find our extra pass in the game again,” he said.
United, Beech said, would continue working hard to return to the levels they were showing before their recent string of postponements.
“If you speak to any person that’s experienced in football, it takes a good half dozen games to get to that feeling,” he said.
“It was pleasing we responded ever so well against Exeter [on Saturday] to get the three points, and it’s very good to have a very good opponent on the back foot who are in rhythm.
“Since the day I got in here, I like winning. I like seeing good things in the last third, I like turnovers and control – we just lacked a bit of that [against Forest Green] even when we were attacking.
“As a team we’ll get back to those levels. As an individual Joe [Riley] was there, and was also there on Saturday. He was excellent.
“We’re pushing, and we’ve got players that can push coming on as well. One thing we can guarantee is hard work and honesty to push something. [Forest Green] will know they’ve been in a game. We know we’ve tried our best to try and get our three points.”