Sunderland Under-23s boss Elliott Dickman thought his side were too nice in the first half following their 3-1 defeat to Stoke Under-23s in the Premier League Cup.
The young Black Cats had already progressed to the knockout stages, after winning four of their five previous group games, but missed the chance to finish ahead of the Potters and top group A.
First-half goals from Jake Dunwoody and Gabriel Kyeremateng put Stoke in full control at the break and, despite an excellent Benji Kimpioka free-kick 18 minutes from time, Sunderland weren't able to close the deficit.
"First half I thought we allowed them to play too much," said Dickman after the game. "We allowed them to have too much of the ball, didn't really put them under any real pressure.
"I'm quite frustrated with the first-half performance if I'm honest, I though we were a bit nice and in danger of just letting the game bypass us.
"To be far we said to them at half-time, we wanted them to have a go and wanted them to press and make it a bit more difficult.
"I think the players did that second half so fair play to them for the reaction but we made the job harder than what it should have been with how we started the game."
Sunderland were reduced to 10 men in the 79th minute when midfielder Lee Connelly was shown a straight red card following a melee near the centre circle.
Dickman had no complaints about the sending off but did feel other decisions went against his side.
"From where I'm standing I would have said it was a fair decision, from our perspective," added Dickman.
"But I do believe there were a couple of other decisions in our favour that went against us tonight.
"I'm not complaining about the decision with Lee, where I stood I saw it and it is the right decision but the referee did miss quite a bit the other way."