Mark Warburton bemoaned a poor first-half display as Nottingham Forest suffered a 3-1 defeat against Reading.
The Reds failed to take their chances in the second half and Ben Osborn scored a late consolation but Warburton was left frustrated.
He said: "We were really poor in the first half. We didn't show any tempo or intensity and we were loose. We said before the game that we were facing a team that were fighting for their lives and we had to match their desire and we had to be hungry and we weren't.
"I don't know why and we should have been two down at half time. In the second half we stepped on, played our normal game and denied them space. We showed a far different level of intensity and quality on the ball and we had many chances. They weren't difficult chances and we have scored the most difficult one which was very well crafted.
"We can't be caught or sucker punched; we have to be streetwise and take our chances. If we had got to 1-1, this crowd would have turned and we should have scored early in the second half.
"We didn't take our chances and the frustration was that after such a disappointing first half, to create that many chances and not take our rewards is frustrating to say the very least."
Warburton said the strange nature of the league means that The Reds are still in the mix for a top six spot and believes there is plenty more to come from his side.
"This league is quite bizarre," he said. "If you look at the results tonight, anyone beats anyone. If we won tonight, we would have gone into the top six and that's what we said to the players and we build from there.
"We have a lot of ability in this team and there is loads still to come from this squad of players, but that first half is the shot across the barrels. If you are one, two or three percent below par then you will get hurt in this league."