Liam Manning says his much-changed MK Dons side failed to hit the levels he was asking for in Tuesday’s Papa John’s Trophy defeat to Cheltenham Town.
The Dons were beaten 2-1 in their opening Southern Group C match, with goals from Adam May and Charlie Brown, either side of Zak Jules’ header, earning the away side victory at Stadium MK.
“There were glimmers of good things but not enough for what we need or the level we're looking for,” Manning said in his post-match press conference.
“There wasn't enough intensity for the whole game, not enough bravery to take the game to them. We were too passive for me, when I wanted someone to step up, take responsibility and get us back playing how we want to play - that didn't happen.
“We started slow in the first 15 minutes, but we then got on the front foot and Brook (Ilunga) did a few nice things, winning free-kicks, and we looked braver. I thought we finished the first half well in passages, but in the second half, we made too many mistakes.
“I can't come out and make excuses. We work every day with the ball, so much in-possession work, but when you're missing passes, that's just down to quality and taking responsibility.”
Manning added: “There's still loads to come out of it. The lads are disappointed because I wanted them to come out here and give me headaches, I wanted them to do well but now we have to challenge them to be better.”
There were some positives to take from Tuesday’s tie, with new signing Joshua Kayode getting 45 minutes under his belt as well as senior debuts for young pro Edward Gyamfi and first-year scholar Callum Tripp.
Firstly, on Kayode, Manning said: “He missed a large chunk of pre-season with injury and he only started training last week. He had 30 minutes last week with Rotherham so we gave him another 45 tonight. He showed a few good touches and I think he'll be a good addition.
“Junior is one who came in in pre-season, showed a terrific attitude, showed a level of aggression and a desire to work. He's not played since pre-season so we have to give him a bit of leeway. He did a couple of bits but has a lot to work on.
“Callum coming on was terrific for him to experience the intensity and physicality. He now has to use this experience, and the emotion in the dressing room afterwards, which you don't have in academy games. It's a really good experience that will only make them better.”
Liam Manning and MK Dons turn their attention back to Sky Bet League One and their trip to Exeter City this weekend.
Tickets, which are available to buy in seated or standing areas, are priced from £20 adults, £17 seniors/18-23s and £8 under-18s. To book tickets/travel CLICK HERE, visit the Box Office at Stadium MK or call 01908 622933.
Tickets will be available to buy online up until 12pm on Friday, though they will remain on sale from the Box Office and by phone until 4pm. Tickets can be bought on Saturday at St James Park but they will be subject to a £1 price increase across all age categories.