Darren Dods said his Brechin City side’s failure to get going was crucial in their 3-2 loss to East Fife on Saturday.
Barry Smith’s Fifers ran into a 2-0 lead before City really entered proceedings, but from there they fought back to 2-2 with the game finely poised.
A defensive error then allowed the Bayview side to take the victory as Brechin slipped out of the play-off positions for the first time in months.
Dods was deflated with the result and the first half performance.
He said: “We took about 30 minutes to get going and it wasn’t until we were 2-0 down that we started pushing forward and getting tighter to them.
“We gave them too much space. We had a warning with the free kick when the boy’s hit the bar, then a few minutes later we dive in again.
“We know how dangerous they are from set pieces and we give them another free kick in an easy position. We go 2-0 down and we do get a reaction to come back to 2-2.
“It’s 50/50 from there and we shoot ourselves in the foot. We take an extra touch in our penalty box, lose the ball and give away a penalty.
“After that the heads went down, they felt sorry for themselves and we didn’t do anything until the last minute with a couple of free kicks but it’s too late.
“Trouten caught him on the calf, if you mis-time tackles now it’s usually a red card. We’re frustrated with that and East Fife will be frustrated with their red card.
“For us the big thing is that Trouten misses the next two games and he’s not long back from suspension.”
City face a lengthy trip south to face ninth-placed Stranraer this Saturday with the Blues undefeated in their last four fixtures.