STEVE McClaren says his Derby County team must become more street-wise after throwing away valuable points against Birmingham City.
The Rams led 3-1 with 12 minutes of normal time remaining in the Championship clash at St Andrew’s on Saturday only to be pegged back to 3-3.
Birmingham’s equaliser arrived three minutes into added time and floored Derby just as they were heading for third spot in the Championship.
A draw means they stay fourth – one point behind Burnley and four adrift of Queen’s Park Rangers in second place.
Both teams have a game in hand on Derby and Harry Redknapp’s QPR are the Rams’ next opponents at the iPro Stadium a week tonight.
McClaren found it hard to believe what happened in the closing stages at Birmingham and described it as a harsh lesson for his side.
“Of course we are disappointed, it is a game we should have won, and won easily and yet we ended up drawing it,” said the head coach.
“At 3-1 up, we lost discipline.
“We did not control the game, we just went for it and a game we could have won 4-1, 5-1 or 6-1 ended up 3-3.”
Goals from Patrick Bamford, Craig Bryson and Craig Forsyth put Derby 3-1 ahead after Brian Howard gave Birmingham the lead three minutes after half time.
Chris Burke pulled goal back and another of the home side’s substitutes, Federico Macheda, levelled.
McClaren was particularly unhappy with the manner of Birmingham’s second goal.
“From our point of view it was an absolute disgrace, a terrible goal,” he said.
“We were deep in their half, we broke well and in the end when we lost possession we had six players in front of the ball!
“We thought we’d got away with it when Lee Grant saved from Macheda but we then failed to defend the second ball and Burke scores.
“We were 3-1 ahead, we didn’t need to open the game up, and we opened it right up and became vulnerable ourselves.
“We need to be a bit more street-wise and know how to see the game out, know how to win and especially when 3-1 up. You don’t have to go and win five or six, you have to make sure you defend well and eventually four, five and six will happen.
“If you do not things right, and don’t do your job you can end up getting bitten.
“We have been bitten good and proper.
“There is still a long way to go with this team.
“We have missed a great opportunity, without a doubt. Birmingham should not have been in the game.
“That’s football. You are never safe and that is the lesson.”