Grant McCann blamed poor finishing and “school kid” defending for Peterborough United’s failure to hold onto a 2-1 lead against Port Vale.
For a second straight home game Posh dropped two points after Andrew Hughes was sent off for blocking a goal-bound shot with his arm, allowing Vale’s Alex Jones to equalise with a 94th minute spot kick.
Jones had given his side an early lead but George Moncur, in his first start for the home side, had scored twice to turn the game around before the late penalty.
Posh also missed several other opportunities to strike in the second-half before Moncur’s second goal, but Tom Nichols missed two good chances and Hughes also had an effort saved.
McCann said: “I said to the players if you don’t punish teams when you get opportunities, you always run the risk of them having a chance and it’s cost us today.
“The amount of chances - and I’ve just watched them back on the analyst’s computer - clear cut chances that if you don’t take in this league, or any league in fact, you’ll get punished at the other end.
“I thought we controlled the game for 85, 90 minutes. We passed the ball well, we limited their chances, especially second-half. Really good performance, but for the last five minutes we were like a bunch of school kids.
“We were slicing the clearances, we were all over the shop. I don’t know what they were doing, but for me they’ve got enough experience in there with Jack Baldwin, Michael Bostwick, Andrew Hughes, people who have played a lot of football and should be good enough to see a game out for me.
“I’ve lost my voice shouting at Fozzy [Chris Forrester] and Leo [Da Silva Lopes] to get back in position, but ultimately the goal comes from one of their midfielders running past one of ours.
“We watched the Man City-Man United game before our game today and we’ve just seen what Man City have done. They kept their shape and won the game at Old Trafford.
“It’s not rocket science. When you’re winning the game with four minutes to go you keep a good shape about you.”
Despite slipping up late on, Posh remain sixth in the table and are the second highest scorers in the league with 15 goals from seven matches.
Asked about the effect the missed chances against Vale would have on his players, McCann said: “It definitely won’t get psychological. It’s just a fact that they missed a chance, it happens to the best of them. We missed too many for our liking today.
“Before the game I saw a stat saying we were the most ruthless team in terms of shots on target in the country.
“It is frustrating we missed the chances, but if we get them next week I’m sure we’ll take them.”
McCann, though, was full of praise for Moncur, a player brought in on deadline day on loan from Barnsley after the Championship club had beaten Posh to his permanent signing.
“George was excellent, that’s exactly why I brought him to the club. The fans can see that today - he’s energetic, he’s busy, he runs at teams and he scores goals,” he said.
“You don’t get 14 goals last year in a relegation team if you haven’t got anything about you. I’m hoping George brings more of that to the table and I’m sure he will.
“I said to the lads at half-time, ‘when you see him turning on the half-turn, you need to run past him because he’ll find you’. He’s got that about him. He always picks the right pass.”
McCann also praised the performance of goalkeeper Luke McGee, another deadline day loan signing who made his debut after joining from Tottenham.
The Posh boss said he was calm under pressure and nothing fazed him.
First-time dad Michael Smith was replaced after 66 minutes against Vale with McCann saying he had only trained once this week and not slept much.
Jermaine Anderson was subbed in the first-half but the knee he had injured was not the one which kept him out for a large part of last season. The injury will now be assessed.
McCann also stated he had no complaints with the last-minute penalty.