ACCRINGTON Stanley boss John Coleman admitted he got his tactics wrong in Stanley's 1-0 defeat to League Two high-flyers Stockport on Saturday.
The Reds chief found little joy with the starting 3-5-2 formation and had to switch to 4-4-2 after the break - but it was too late then with Adam Griffin's first half injury-time strike doing the damage.
And the Stanley boss held his hands up, stating: "I've got to take responsibilty, I'm to blame for the defeat - I picked the wrong formation."
The game was something of an anti-climax for the Stanley faithful among the 3004 bumper crowd who had felt they could halt near rivals County's superb run of six wins on the bounce.
After the victory at Barnet last week, Coleman had stressed the necessity for his relegation-haunted side to string a set of results together and get out of the battle at the bottom.
But instead, the Reds lacked incisiveness and struggled to create many clear cut chances, dragging them further into the mire with just two points separating them from second-off-bottom place.
And it was another poor result at the Fraser Eagle Stadium which had been a fortress in the Conference-winning campaign but Stanley have won just one of their last ten home games.
Winger Andy Todd - who had started all but one of Stanley's League Two matches but was dropped to the bench on Saturday - admitted they just can't put a finger on what is going wrong at home.
"We haven't play anywhere near like we can at home for as far back as I can remember and it's been very, very frustrating," said the wideman. "It is disappointing being left out but the manager picks the side and you have to get on with it. It's not about me at the end of the day, it's about the team."
Coleman had every reason to stick with the 3-5-2 formation after it had been a success at Underhill but Todd was a surprise omission with Coleman accomodating wing-backs Alan Rogers and Leam Richardson.
But, from the start, it was Stockport's game-plan which was working the better as they could have gone ahead in the first minute.
Then lively striker Anthony Pilkington got on the end of Griffin's cross, beat Stanley's on-loan keeper Przemyslaw Kazimierczak but defender Robbie Williams did well to get back and clear the effort off the line.
The Reds passed the ball around well in midfield but lacked a cutting edge with shots from Jay Harris and Paul Mullin never really causing a serious problem.
It was difficult to see how the Reds were going to find a way through as County seemed more technically aware and were always bossing the game.
And, midway through the first half, Stanley were extremely lucky to keep the scores level.
Pilkington again played a great crossfield ball into the area which saw one-time Reds' target Anthony Elding, Dominic Blizzard and Rob Clare, all have their headers cleared off the line.
Both Harris and Boco had speculative long range efforts but Coleman knew he had to change his formation at half-time as it just wasn't working.
However, just as he was plotting his next move, the Reds were dealt a killer blow.
In the third minute of added on-time - of which there was supposed to be two - dangerman Pilkington reacted quickest to a fast counter-attack which saw three Stockport attackers against one lone Stanley defender. Pilkington squared the ball to an unmarked Griffin in the box who slotted the ball off the inside of the left-hand post to score.
Coleman was gutted: "It's disappointing for them to score when it's in the last seconds of the first half.
"If the lad hadn't had a break, the referee would have blown for half-time.
"He's put two minutes up and played three. I sometimes think if you're down at the bottom, things go against you."
There was still plenty of time, though, to turn it around and Coleman returned to the more tried and tested 4-4-2 formation with striker Stuart Fleetwood and Richardson making way for the more attacking styles of Todd and Shaun Whalley.
And Stanley came out the brighter with both players marking their introductions with impressive long runs and shots which sailed just wide of the visiting goal.
But Stockport's sharp strikeforce were always a threat with Elding, David Poole and Pilkington all making a nuisance of themselves.
In the 70th minute, Elding should have given his boss Jim Gannon more breathing space when he ran onto an inch perfect cross by Clare only for the ball to be taken off him by a perfectly executed tackle by last man Phil Edwards.
And the game then just petered out to the frustration of the fans and management.
"We had a bit of a bright start in the second half but never really got a foot into the game," said the Reds chief.
"We ran out of ideas quite quickly in the second half and I think we needed the boost of a goal and we didn't get one.
"You have to give Stockport credit, they haven't conceded a goal in seven games, they've got a lot of belief in themselves and when you're in that situation, things go for you."