Red card was no excuse for our defeat – McGhee
MARK McGhee refused to use Tom Parkes' dismissal as an excuse for Bristol Rovers' defeat at Port Vale.
And the manager admitted his side's below-par performance meant they would probably have taken nothing from the game – even with 11 men.
Parkes was sent off for a rash challenge on Vale midfielder Chris Shuker in the first half, although by then the visitors were trailing to Marc Richards' deflected header.
"We didn't play well, particularly in the first half – and we didn't reach the heights we have in a number of recent games," admitted McGhee.
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"Our possession and decision-making were poor and we looked a little bit short of energy, even on what was a really good pitch."
"Up until they scored, it was a very even contest and it was a disappointing goal to lose.
"All the sending-off did was make things more difficult for us. But, as I said to the lads afterwards, even if we had finished the game with a full complement of players, I don't think we would have taken anything from the game anyway."
Despite firing seven goals in their previous outing against Burton, Rovers failed to muster a single on-target effort at Vale Park.
McGhee said: "Having ten men for most of the game didn't help and I think that would be the main reason for that, along with a general lack of energy. Also, our attacking players weren't as clinical as they might have been.
"Although Matt Harrold battled his corner really well, Eliot Richards never quite got in the game in the same way he did last week and Mustapha Carayol was very disappointing compared to how he has played of late.
"He is so vital to our attacking prospects that when he plays as poorly as he did today, we aren't going to be anywhere near as potent as we were last week."
Parkes' dismissal – his third red card in 46 league outings – means an early end to his season.
But McGhee confirmed he would like to see the youngster and his Leicester City club-mate Cian Bolger back at the Memorial Stadium next season if the Championship club will renew their loan deals.
"We had no arguments about the sending off," said McGhee. "It was a lunging tackle and a dangerous one and Tom was a little bit over enthusiastic in trying to win the ball.
"However, it just got away from him and you could see that he was quite apologetic and a little bit embarrassed about it when he came off. I was disappointed for him, as much as I was with him.
"Any team, no matter who they are, can experience a day like today when they don't play as well as they can, and it was disappointing because I was hoping we would go on and win our last three games. Now all we can do is win our last two."
Rovers round off their home campaign next weekend when they face Accrington Stanley.