Grant McCann was unable to hide his frustration at the decision to award Nottingham Forest a penalty in his side’s 2-1 defeat at the City Ground.
With the Tigers leading 1-0 courtesy of Keane Lewis-Potter’s sublime first-half opener, George Honeyman was harshly penalised for a challenge on Alex Mighten inside the box.
Lewis Grabban converted the resulting penalty and Brennan Johnson went on to score what proved to be the winner with 18 minutes remaining.
“First and foremost, I thought we were outstanding second half,” said McCann.
“The performance levels of this group are getting better and better every week. We’ve come to a team who have lost one game in 16 games and I thought we were much the better team, particularly in the second half.
“We scored a tremendous goal in the first half to put us 1-0 up. A great ball from Sean McLoughlin, an unbelievable touch from Keane and a better finish.
“And then, that moment (the penalty) has swung and changed the game. George is icing his shin in there with a gash down it. He’s (Mighten) actually kicked George and George has taken the ball. It’s so frustrating. It swung the momentum of the game.
“We were so comfortable up to that point. Forest had a bit of play in the first half, which you expect when you come to the City Ground, but our shape was good.
“We were organised, they didn’t create anything clear-cut and we scored a very good goal to go 1-0 up.
“The second half, we were so in control again. They’ve changed their shape to try and combat us a little bit. We got against their full-backs really well, with (Ryan) Longman and Keane Lewis-Potter.
“That decision goes and swings the whole momentum. Don’t get me wrong, the second goal is a poor goal for us to concede. There’s no way someone should be able to run with the ball that much and cross.
“We should do better when the ball is in the air, but the first goal has changed the momentum.”
Despite the defeat – the Tigers’ first in seven matches – McCann hailed the outstanding Lewis-Potter after his sumptuous opener.
“It’s one of the best team goals we’ve scored for a while,” McCann said.
“The way we’ve played out, the way Sean has stepped, the movement from Magennis to move the centre-half and cause problems for (Djed) Spence.
“The touch from Keane was phenomenal and the finish – I thought he was going to go for the opposite corner but he went near post. I’m pleased for him.
“His performance level was at a really high level, whatever side he played on. The lad is getting better and better and he’s playing with real confidence.”