Furious Salford boss Graham Alexander accused his side of being soft and naive as they let a two-goal lead slip to draw 2-2 at home to a depleted Tranmere.
The unbeaten Ammies looked set for a comfortable win when Richie Towell’s deflected effort looped in after two minutes and former Manchester United striker James Wilson thundered in a long-range drive midway through the first half.
But, despite trailing for 85 minutes and having half their squad in self-isolation following two positive tests for coronavirus, Tranmere rescued a point with two terrific late strikes from Kieron Morris and Paul Lewis.
“I’m massively disappointed,” said Alexander, who held a lengthy dressing-room debrief after the game.
“To lose two points in the last few minutes is hard to take. Our mindset, decision-making, thinking we had the game won, we just dropped a gear.
“The goals came late, but the whole of the second half was not up to scratch and cost us two valuable points. When it got physical we were second best.
“I try to keep emotions in check but losing a 2-0 lead so late is a kick in the teeth and it stings.
“We know we let ourselves down. We were in control. We never got a foothold back in the game second half. We didn’t keep the ball and we were not compact enough.”
Rovers boss Mike Jackson says his side showed great togetherness, pride and strength to come from behind with a squad decimated by enforced isolation after their positive Covid-19 results.
“We had two positive tests at the start of week, they are fine and isolating, “ he confirmed.
“We then took a decision to isolate a group of our players. It has been a tough week.
“The way the staff and players have reacted is absolutely superb. That sends a statement and is a credit to them.
“The lads isolating are safe and well. The lads who have Covid are ok. Our priority as a club is the safety of our players and their families. That is bigger than a football match.”
Despite being outplayed before half-time as Salford impressed in front of the watching Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes, Tranmere were unlucky not to win the game, according to Jackson.
“I thought we were the better team,” he said.
“The effort and desire, the change of shape, the lad making his debut with only 10 senior players available, to dig something out was admirable.
“We said at half-time we had nothing to fear and the response was brilliant and I’m so delighted for them. Some teams and players could have made excuses today but we didn’t.”