SHEFFIELD United manager Danny Wilson last night accused his players of “letting themselves down” during their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat by Bradford City.
United departed the tournament at the Area Quarter-Final Stage 6-5 on penalties after being held 1-1 by the visitors during normal time.
Wilson said: “If you go out then you go out kicking, scratching and biting.
“We didn’t do that. That’s one that got away. Not everyone can play at their best but what you can have is commitment and desire.
“Bradford showed more of that than us in key areas.”
Wilson added: “I’ve transmitted my feelings to the players. We should have had enough to go through and that’s not belittling Bradford at all. But we did have.”
United appeared to be on course for a comfortable victory when Matt Phillips, playing the final game of his loan period from Blackpool, combined with Marcus Williams to fire them in front after 27 minutes.
However City, who had earlier seen Ross Hannah and Craig Fagan miss gilt-edged opportunities, deservedly levelled when Michael Flynn pounced during the closing stages of the first-half.
Phillips’ team mate Billy Clarke, who is also poised to return to Bloomfield Road before this weekend’s FA Cup first round tie with Oxford, drew an excellent save from Jon McLaughlin with the final kick of the game.
But with Chris Porter, Harry Maguire and substitute Erik Tonne all missing spot-kicks, Chris Mitchell converted the decisive penalty to send City through 6-5 on aggregate.
United midfielder Michael Doyle added: “We’re all disappointed in the dressing room and the gaffer has told us how disappointed he is too.
“It’s a set-back because we were beaten (by Stevenage) in League One at the weekend too and now we need a good result straight away this weekend to put things right and get us back on track.
“We didn’t play as well as we could and we made things difficult for ourselves at times.”