SWINDON Town manager David Flitcroft admitted his side were punished for a slow start away at Chesterfield today as they missed out on the chance to strengthen their League Two promotion credentials following a 2-1 defeat.

Town found themselves a goal down inside two minutes at the Proact Stadium when Chris O’Grady pounced after visiting keeper Reice Charles-Cook could only push a teasing low cross into a crowded box.

Swindon looked to raise the tempo in the second half but Andy Kellett finished off a crisp counter-attack to double the Spireites’ lead six minutes after the restart.

The visitors were forced to finish the game a man down when Ollie Banks was shown a straight red card midway through the second half and although Chris Robertson’s header gave them a glimmer of hope, Flitcroft conceded his troops had given themselves too much to do.

“We talked about a fast start and hard start, we talked about a collision as they would come out at us pretty hard and we had to match that but after a minute we were a goal down,” said Flitcroft.

“I don’t think we recovered well. Usually that should stimulate you to recover but we didn’t and we didn’t force enough of our play onto them and give them enough problems.

“I was really disappointed with the first-half performance and not just the application but the quality in our work and making bad decisions and really not running hard enough for each other.

“That was the biggest thing from the first half, we didn’t give each other angles, we let each other die on the ball. It was a really disappointing aspect of our play.

“In the second half there was a real surge and a positivity and it looked like a fighting performance.

“At 2-1 I felt we had hustled our way back into the game but we didn’t keep the ball alive enough towards the end of the game. When I thought we could maybe get back into the game, Chesterfield saw it out quite well.

“Full respect to Chesterfield and the performance they put in first half. They almost seemed to want the three points more than us in the first half, that’s what it looked like.”

Banks was given his marching orders with 18 minutes to go after appearing to lunge in on Louis Reed inside the centre circle and Flitcroft had no complaints about the decision in the immediate aftermath of the match.

“I spoke to the linesman and he said it looked a bad one from his angle and usually when you see a referee make a decision so quickly, he has seen something he is not happy with,” said Flitcroft.

“It looked like an over-stretch. They are outlawing it from the game, we don’t want nasty tackles, we don’t want players injured. I think every football person who has got integrity and sincerity doesn’t want over-the-top tackles.

“If it is an over-the-top tackle when I view it, there is certainly no defence from me because you have got to keep your control and discipline.”