ACCRINGTON Stanley’s play-off push ultimately came to an end with back-to-back 3-3 draws.

But on reflection manager John Coleman says it was defeat at home to Ipswich Town in early March that did the damage to aspirations of a top-six finish.

The Reds took an early lead through top scorer Dion Charles but had Seamus Conneely sent off soon after and Ipswich, with newly-appointed manager Paul Cook watching from the stands against his old side, made full use of their one-man advantage.

Stanley bounced back to beat Swindon in their next game but then lost three on the spin and have won only three out of 13 games since.

“I really think we’ve missed a marvellous opportunity,” said Coleman.

Ex-boss Paul Cook

Ex-boss Paul Cook

“This year there’s been no stand-out teams. The fact that we’ve beaten both teams who are likely to go up automatically is frustrating.

“There was no stand-out team this year, there was no real poor team either, anybody could put a string of performances together.

“I actually had a conversation in January and said we just had to avoid going on an horrendous run, and lo and behold we did go on an horrendous run. That coincided with a run of injuries and quite a lot of bad luck. Truth be known the Ipswich game did a lot of damage to us psychologically, and physically, and it’s been hard to recover from that.”

But looking at the season overall, Coleman noted that concentration is key.

“The overriding factor from this season is that the players have got to learn that you can’t switch off at any moment in any game,” said the Reds boss.

“It doesn’t matter where the ball is, what you’re doing, you could give a throw-in away that can lead to a goal, you could lose a man, you could lose the ball in the opposition’s half that could lead to them breaking on you. So every minute as a footballer you’ve got to be at it, and the successful teams are.”