Ross County defender Liam Fontaine felt his side paid the price for failing to match Ayr United’s work-rate in Saturday’s Scottish Cup upset at Somerset Park.
County were defeated 1-0 by their Championship opponents, with the Staggies failing to recover from Steven Bell’s first-half opener.
Fontaine reckons his side’s failure to match the Honest Men in the dirty side of the game proved their downfall.
Englishman Fontaine said: “We knew going to a place like Somerset Park, especially in a cup game, we were going to have to first and foremost match their energy, work-rate and desire.
“The work they put into the first half was what got them the result.
“For all our possession, we didn’t put enough balls into the box. We were maybe trying to be a bit too intricate at times, when we should have made them defend more.
“We learn lessons in football in every game we play – this is a lesson we have to learn quickly.”
Fontaine conceded his side failed to deal with the burden of being favourites against Mark Kerr’s men, adding: “It was a typical cup tie you get with the team in the lower league having that little spring in their step.
“We had it last year when we played Motherwell, we beat them at the same point of the competition when they were flying high in the Premiership and we were down in the Championship.
“We’ve been in that position. We need to be able to handle being in the reverse position now.”
County, who are eighth in the Premiership, return to league action at home to bottom-placed Hearts on Wednesday, and Fontaine is demanding a reaction.
The 34-year-old added: “Hearts are going to try to blitz us with some high energy. We have to match that first and foremost, and then the football side can come out once we have earned the right to play.”