Colchester manager Ben Garner criticised his players’ mentality and the performance of the officials after his side let a lead slip to lose 2-1 at Newport, with midfielder Arthur Read sent off late on.
Garner was convinced that Samson Tovide, who put the visitors ahead in the 34th minute with a tap in from Jayden Fevrier’s cross, should have had a second in first-half stoppage time when his shot was scrambled clear by home goalkeeper Nick Townsend.
“We were fantastic on Saturday and we were nowhere near those levels tonight,” said Garner, whose side beat League Two leaders Notts County 5-4 at the weekend.
“We should still take something from the game, but the mentality of some of the players has to improve – it can’t be pick this game and don’t turn up for the next one.”
County levelled two minutes before the break when Will Evans diverted in a wayward shot from midfielder Scot Bennett for his ninth goal of the season.
And the Exiles’ winner arrived in the 63rd minute when a defensive clearance hit onrushing striker Omar Bogle and cannoned into the bottom corner.
Tovide headed wide from close range late on before Read was sent off for an off-the-ball clash with substitute Kiban Rai.
Garner added: “We had six gilt-edged chances to score and we gave away two really poor goals. It’s a focus and mentality thing – the ability is there.
“I’m also frustrated with the performance of the officials.
“We got the ball a yard over the line in the first half. It looked in at the time and we’ve seen it back; it’s well in. It’s not a difficult decision.”
Garner had no issue with the sending off, though he blamed referee Lewis Smith for missing fouls on his player before the flashpoint.
“It’s a red card,” he admitted. “It’s a lack of discipline and he’s let his team down. He’s been fouled three times and the ref misses all three, but you can’t react. He’s a young player and he’ll learn.
“If the officials did their job probably, we wouldn’t get frustrated.”
Assistant manager Joe Dunne was pleased that County bounced back from successive defeats to seal a first victory since August 26.
“It’s a good win for us,” said Dunne. “We thought we should have got something from Salford (on Saturday), so we’re delighted with the three points.
“After the disappointment from Saturday, we spoke about what we can bring and all we asked for was the same with being a bit more clinical.
“It’s a great credit to everybody and we have won again at Rodney Parade. We should be really proud of digging in.”