LEEDS boss Neil Warnock was left “embarrassed” after his team slumped to a 7-3 home defeat against Nottingham Forest.
The former QPR boss took over at Elland Road last month and was hoping to inspire a push towards the npower Championship play-offs.
The prospect of a top-six finish took a knock last night as lowly Forest fired seven past the home side, with Garath McCleary scoring four times.
Warnock admitted he learned plenty about his players as they crumbled, having at one stage in the second half come from 3-1 behind to pull level at 3-3.
Warnock said: “I’m quite embarrassed about the result. But I don’t think you learn much about your players when you’re winning games, I think you learn things when things go against you, who stands up and who you want in the trenches with you.
“I’ve learnt probably more than I have in the other games tonight, but in fairness some of them were just shattered.”
He added: “You’ve got to be stronger mentally in certain areas to avoid results like that.”
Southampton manager Nigel Adkins refused to be carried away despite his leaders edging closer to the Barclays Premier League with a 2-0 victory at Hull City.
Jack Hobbs’ own goal and a second-half Jos Hooiveld effort proved the difference at the KC Stadium, while automatic promotion rivals Reading and West Ham squandered points.
Adkins said: “I have been made aware of the results but, as I have said from day one, we stay in the here and the now.
“What we do is prepare very hard for a game and we endeavour to win it.”
He added: “That said, it was a very pleasing win away from home.”
Hull counterpart Barmby was left to rue missed chances after a match in which Josh King came close on several occasions and Robbie Brady fired over with the goal gaping.
“We got beaten by a good side tonight,” the City manager said. “All credit to the them and that is why they are top of the league.
“I know we conceded, but in the first 20 minutes we rode our luck with [Adam Lallana] missing the open goal.
“For the last 15 minutes of the first half, we were the better team and if we had scored then maybe the result would have been different.
West Ham were held 1-1 at home by Middlesbrough, and have made home stalemates a speciality recently.
Manager Sam Allardyce said: “Eventually these draws will cost us.”
Boro boss Tony Mowbray said: “It’s a bit crazy that it’s all doom and gloom and here we are, both clubs in the top six.
“I was pleased with the way that we came here and set up to frustrate West Ham because of the run they’ve been on we thought we could play on their anxiety a bit.
“We’re in the top six and with a bit of luck and a few players back hopefully we will stay there in the last nine games of the season and get into the play-offs.
“I’m pleased for Bart - he does that kind of thing every day in training but he’s been coming into my office this week and asking me for more game time.
“Had he not done that would he have got his chance today? It’s very hard to say but I’m pleased that he did.”
Dean Saunders challenged his Doncaster players to “have some nerve” after their npower Championship survival bid was severely dented by a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Millwall.
Rovers, who remain four points from safety with just nine games to play, were the architects of their own downfall as some hapless defending allowed the visitors to saunter into a two-goal lead inside 13 minutes.
Saunders said: “Football is not easy. We’ve got to roll our sleeves up, come out fighting, have some belief in ourselves and have some nerve.
“We’re all good players when we’re 2-0 up. Who wants the ball when you’re 2-0 down and the crowd are ready to have a go at you? I’ll keep fighting and I’ll make sure the players keep fighting.”
The Welshman described Millwall’s second early strike as “a freak goal”, adding: “You could hit 100 of them at Carl and he saves 99 of them. I don’t know what happened.”
Barnsley manager Keith Hill admitted that conceding such a late goal in the 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace had been hard to take.
“I’m devastated,” he said.
“I don’t know what I have done to deserve this kind of misfortune.
“The performance was brave but to concede a goal so late is unbelievable.
“The players are hurting and I’m hurting because 0-0 would have been a fair result. We played good football up to the final third but I’m just numb.
“I can’t ask any more from the players but we just have to accept that things aren’t going our way at the moment.”