DECLAN Devine felt David Parkhouse's missed penalty 'knocked the stuffing' out his Derry City side in what proved the major turning point in their 2-0 home defeat to Shamrock Rovers.
The Derry City boss admitted his team's heads dropped when their leading marksman's 73rd minute spotkick was saved superbly by Rovers keeper, Alan Mannus and when Aaron Greene struck the decisive blow four minutes later Devine claims the match referee should've blown the final whistle as the goal had 'drained the living daylights' out of his deflated Candy Stripes.
A tense and, at times, scrappy encounter was ultimately decided inside 13 action packed second half minutes from when Greg Sloggett was adjudged to gave brought down Jack Byrne inside the penalty area on 64 minutes.
Devine felt the decision by referee, Rob Hennessy to point to the spot for the infringement was 'soft' and he claimed his team didn't fully recover from that costly setback.
"Ultimately conceding the first goal knocked the stuffing out of us," said the City manager. "Missing the penalty knocked the stuffing out of us and finally the second goal, they might as well blew the whistle then because it just drained the living daylights out of us.
"Tonight it was based on decisions we made in terms of the goals we gave away were poor," he added. "I said all week, for us to beat Shamrock Rovers we had to make sure we didn't give away anything soft and tonight we gave away two soft goals.
"Also the penalty was a huge incident in the game. The confidence you could see it actually fall out of us when we missed the penalty. It looked like we gave up the ghost and then the second goal going in was a real hammer blow for us. We don't normally perform like that but we have to take it and move on.
"I felt the penalty was very soft," he continued. "We have to learn our game management. It seems the most experienced teams know how to get things and play up on maybe getting decisions. We've got to learn how to kill games off and slow games down. Tonight we were a bit naive in our defending for the two goals we gave away.
"We weren't good at all in the second half. In the first half we were well in the game. We played on the front foot and defended really well. We allowed Shamrock Rovers to have it on the edge of their own box."
Northern Ireland U21 international, Parkhouse had the chance to level the game from the spot when he was brought down inside the box by Roberto Lopes but he failed to increase his incredible goal tally to 18 goals.
That big save from the experienced Mannus was a major turning point in the game which was still in the balance up until that point.
"It was a big turning point in the game but there's no blame at David Parkhouse's door. He's been unbelievable for us. He scored his last penalty here last week and fully deserved to take that one tonight. Alan Mannus is a fantastic keeper and saved it well. But it was a turning point for us because had we scored we were back in at 1-1 and the least I felt we would've got would've been a draw.
"You could see after we missed the penalty the mental side our game, we struggled."
With Bohemians running riot at Dalymount Park in an emphatic 10-1 win over UCD which moved them above Derry and back into the third European spot, Devine wasn't getting too disheartened.
"We said there was going to be ups and downs and it would be a bit of a rollercoaster from now until the end of the season. Shamrock Rovers are a fantastic side, let's not underestimate where they are as a club.
On the grand scheme of things the players have been excellent over a long period of time and we'll take our beating, we have to suck it up and learn from it and move on."