Derby County boss Frank Lampard was left disappointed that his side couldn't replicate their recent form as they fell to a 1-0 defeat against Leeds United in Saturday's play-off semi-final first leg.
Kemar Roofe's second-half goal proved the difference but Derby failed to seriously trouble Leeds keeper Kiko Casilla and now face an uphill task if they are to reach the final at Wembley.
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And Lampard conceded that United deserved their win.
He said: "We weren't at our best today which was disappointing because we didn't play how we can.
"We didn't do well enough on the ball and conceded possession too easily, but it wasn't for a lack of effort or work rate. Leeds deserved to win the game.
"We were up against a side full of experienced players who are seasoned at this level, whereas most of our squad are in their first campaign in the Championship.
"It leaves Leeds stronger favourites than they were beforehand, but hopefully our players will be inspired a bit by the comebacks we've seen in the Champions League this week and we'll keep our heads up and be positive."
Lampard was also left dismayed by referee Craig Pawson's decision to overturn his award of a Derby penalty during the second-half after Jayden Bogle and Stuart Dallas had challenged each other in the box.
After consulting his assistant, Pawson instead gave the decision the other way, leaving Lampard perplexed.
He said: "In terms of the incident, it's one that could have gone either way and I can see why in the end it's not been given.
"But for me, the ref has made his decision and should stick to it, rather than giving the penalty and then changing his mind after speaking with his assistant. I can't remember seeing that before.
"In games of this magnitude it's amazing that he took second fiddle rather than staying strong and standing by his decision."
The second leg will take place at Elland Road on Wednesday night, kick-off 7.45pm.