BOSS Marcus Bignot believes that his players being tired mentally contributed to the 4-0 defeat to Portsmouth on Tuesday night, and is looking for a response at Blundell Park at the weekend.
First half goals from Kyle Bennett, Danny Rose and Carl Baker saw Pompey 3-0 up before the break despite a promising start to the game from Town before Kai Naismith wrapped things up at Fratton Park.
Speaking after the game, Bignot said: ''It's a difficult evening for the boys. For me, we've played the best team in the League in Portsmouth.
''I thought we started the game really well. We had a couple of corners, hit the post, Fordey (Portsmouth keeper David Forde) has pulled off a great save from Akwasi (Asante) and we had the momentum so I was pleased with how we started and then they got their fortune with the looped shot that went in.
''But I just thought our defenders were out on their legs tonight to be fair.
''They'll bounce back Saturday, there's no doubt about that but when you come to Fratton Park you need your defenders to come and be counted and their attacking line got the better of our defensive line tonight.''
Town made five changes to the side that won at Leyton Orient at the weekend, with Jamey Osborne, Akswasi Asante and Scott Vernon coming in for Craig Disley, Tom Bolarinwa and Calum Dyson after impressive substitute appearances at the weekend and former Portsmouth player Ben Davies and Luke Maxwell also starting in place of Dominic Vose and Brandon Comley.
Asked if he regretted making the changes, the Town boss said: ''No. I didn't change our defenders and you saw how knackered they were.
''We had a trip from hell today. The coach is 45 minutes late after a mechanical fault and we get to the ground late.
''We've been on the road but there are no regrets with what we've done. I made changes on Saturday and hindsight is a wonderful thing.
''It's been a long weekend but we cant let this damage us and we've got to go again on Saturday.''
Bignot thought that his players mental tiredness led to them switching off the goals, saying: ''We were mentally tired today.
People say that the two deflected shots are unfortunate but we could have got out there earlier and blocked the shot, and then with the third goal, we've dropped off and we've shown them and told them about it.
''It was a deep free kick put down the sides and we were so easily beaten, but that's just mental tiredness.
''So we go in at 3-0, we say lets come out and win the second half and give our fans something to cheer about and about and as soon as you kick off, there's another shot from distance, its parried out and their players reacted first, so we were just mentally tired tonight defensively.''
Bignot is looking for a response when the side host Crawley Town at the weekend and is refusing to give up on the side's play-off hopes ahead of the encounter.
He said: ''I'm looking at Portsmouth and we can't gauge them because for me, they'll go up automatically and with the crowd, the ground, the history and everything about the club, they don't deserve to be in this League.
''That's where we want to get to one day and we'd love to get into the play-offs but we're 7 points off it now.
''We can't keep saying it but but if we win these next three games, I reckon we'll be right in it and if we don't we don't, we'll be down to the last five games.
''So it's a massive game on Saturday, they wanna switch the machine off but we're still breathing.
''We haven't switched it off yet and hopefully on Saturday, we get those three points and see where that takes us.''