SWINDON Town head coach Ben Garner was angry with his side for not competing well enough during the first half of their 3-2 defeat to Mansfield Town on Tuesday night.

George Maris opened the scoring for the Stags as early as the fourth minute at Field Mill, only to see Swindon pull level in the 28th minute when Harry McKirdy squeezed a shot past Nathan Bishop at the near post.

Yet, a sluggish first 45 from Swindon meant two further goals before half-time – one from Stephen McLaughlin via the penalty spot and another from Jordan Bowery – gave the visitors far too much to do as they travelled back to Wiltshire empty handed.

Reacting to a poor first-half display in particular, Garner said: “It was a disappointing first half, we didn’t compete well enough. I’m disappointed with the goals we conceded.

“It was a much-improved second half, we were the better side then and had enough chances to get at least a point.

“It was a difficult pitch, difficult for us to pass the ball around, but we let them build momentum and that caused us problems.

“It was a stonewall penalty not given. Rob Hunt gets a touch in the box and then is taken out, it’s a penalty. That has been the story of our season with officials unfortunately.”

The Swindon boss took an age to emerge from the changing rooms at full time after sending his team a strong message in the post-match debrief.

Garner admitted his half-time message incurred the same frustrated themes but gave credit for a second-half display that could have seen the Robins take an unlikely point.

Discussing what was said at half-time, Garner said: “I was angry. I don’t want to see that first-half display again. We have to compete and be at it to keep up our intensity.

“It’s a lesson we’ve got to take on and make sure we compete in every minute of every game for the rest of the season.

“I was angry at half time. It wasn’t good enough with the ball, but we can improve that and change things tactically to help the players.

“Strong words were said at half-time and they gave a good response second half. There was a lot more energy with some great, great chances. We could have scored three or four goals in the second half.

“It was disappointing to not get something in that second half but you can’t give yourselves that mountain to climb. It Left us too much to do.”