Daniel Stendel believes his Barnsley side might have been over-awed as his side came unstuck in their top-of-the-table clash with Sunderland.
The Reds saw a four-game League One unbeaten run came to an end in front of over 28,000 fans at the Stadium of Light, with the Black Cats running out 4-2 victors.
It was a frantic 13-minute spell that ultimately cost Barnsley as they shipped three goals in the first half, with Aiden McGeady, Josh Maja and Lynden Gooch putting them to the sword.
Kieffer Moore's double threatened what would have been a brilliant fightback, but ultimately Luke O'Nien's late goal killed off the game.
Stendel thinks his side maybe crumbled under the pressure as Sunderland hit them hard and insists there is not a five-point gap in quality between the two sides.
He said: “In the first 35 minutes we were not here, after that we played very well. We played so much better but that was 3-0 at that time.
“This is a big club here at this stadium, maybe players from League One were a little too impressed in first 35 minutes. We can play so much better.
“We showed that in the second half. When you want to win at Sunderland you have to play two good halves. Sunderland are not five points better than us.”
The Reds were doing okay until referee Andrew Madley decided Ethan Pinnock fouled McGeady in the area, with the defender clearly appearing to take the ball.
McGeady, a former Sheffield Wednesday loanee, got up to convert the spot-kick and kick-started his side's golden period.
Stendel is refuting the penalty decision and, although accepts that is not the reason his side lost, believes it cost them a proper chance of a comeback.
“I watched the penalty in a video clip, you can see it is not a penalty.
“He (the referee) is 10 metres behind it so surely he could see it was not a penalty. It was not the right decision.
“That was one goal though. The other goals were our fault. Sometimes not all decisions are right. “At 2-0 we might have had more chance to win it.”