Cape Town - Orlando Pirates coach Eric Tinkler insists his side did not compete when it came to battling for the ball in the middle of the park in their 2-1 Premiership loss to Platinum Stars on Monday.
Siphiwe Sithole's goal gave the home side the lead six minutes into the match at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium. Ndumiso Mabena netted the second goal with a spectacular finish in the 49th minute to take Dikwena up to third in the league standings.
Sifiso Myeni grabbed a consolation for Pirates later in the second-half, however Tinkler believes individual battles lost in the middle of the park were their downfall.
"I told the players before the match that this game would be all about individual battles and we didn't win them, particularly in the first-half - we were always second to the ball, they were winning every single headers and second ball," Tinkler told SuperSport.
"The goal came from us defending the corner well, but then reacting poorly to the second ball.
"We rectified that at half time, and I thought we came out a lot better in the second-half.
"I was disappointed at how we conceded the second goal as I thought we should have been given a free-kick right inside their box and I thought we got caught on the transition and they got the second, and then it was always about fighting back, taking risks and throwing more numbers forward and looking to get ourselves back into the game. But that didn't happen.
"The way we started wasn't good enough, and I told the players it was all about winning individual battles, and they didn't do that."
The Sea Robbers host relegation contenders Maritzburg United at Orlando Stadium in their next league clash on Saturday and the former Bidvest Wits assistant coach is hoping for a better showing.
"There's no easy games," he said. "Maritzburg are fighting for survival, and we have to be up for it.
"We know this is our first loss in quite a while, and there's obviously disappointment form my side and the players' side, but we need to bounce back as there's not much time left - the season will soon be done and dusted, and we want to finish it on a positive note."