Graham Alexander says his Motherwell team’s negative mindset stopped them from beating Rangers.
The Fir Park gaffer felt three points were there for the taking yesterday after his side leveled at 1-1 and Gers were reduced to 10 men.
But after Leon Balogun’s red card, Gio van Bronckhorst’s side stepped up to gear in the second half and scored through Scott Wright and a James Tavernier penalty.
Alexander believes his players showed what they were capable of in the opening 45 minutes – but lacked the belief to go and kill off the Europa League semi-finalists.
After the 3-1 defeat, the Motherwell boss said: “For 45 minutes we were really good. We committed as a team, we pressed Rangers all over the pitch and caused them problems.
“We didn’t give them time on the ball to dictate and at 1-1, the game was there for us to take.
“But we had to stay on the front foot and put them under pressure.
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“We didn’t do that in the second half, we let them pop it around at the back.
“They knocked it over our heads or walked through our team to score.
“It’s a missed opportunity because it was there for us.
“We did the same thing in our first game back after the break when the opposition went down to 10 men.
“We took a step backwards and got punished. It was a carbon copy today which is a real disappointment for us.
“If we’d have pressed like we did in the first half we could have won the game.
“Until we learn lessons about how our team does its best work, our form won’t be any different.
“That’s what we need to try and fix.
“You either take a step forward or back. What dictates that? It’s your mind.
“We have to be aggressive in our play. Our success in finishing in the top six hasn’t come from sitting deep in our own box.
“It’s come from not letting teams play their own game and for 45 minutes we did it today against a very good team.
“We did it even when Rangers had 11 players. But we lost a bit of belief after we got punished so early in the second half.”
“We need to fix this mindset and dictate to ourselves that taking a step backwards is the worst thing we can possibly do because we’re not good at it. “We have to be on the front foot. The first half and second half was a complete contrast and that’s why we lost.
Alexander had no real complaints about Gers’ spot kick after Bevis Mugabi upended Fashion Sakala in the box.
He was more annoyed at how the Zambian got there in the first place.
And after Balogun’s red card challenge on Well kid Dean Cornelius, he was pleased to see the youngster play on.
He said: “For the penalty, I’m more disappointed how they got clean through on our goal.
“They have gone 60-70 yards into our box relatively unscathed and unchallenged and that’s where the goal comes from.
“The sending off was a heavy challenge but I didn’t see anything malicious – I’ll have to see it back.
“Dean’s a tough boy and doesn’t go down easily so I was pleased to see he was OK.”