Sam Allardyce admitted Saturday's 3-0 npower Championship defeat at Reading marked his 'worst day' since taking charge of West Ham United.
The Hammers recovered from the early loss of Guy Demel to a thigh injury to edge the opening 45 minutes at the Madejski Stadium, only for the wheels to come off in spectacular fashion after half-time.
Demel's replacement Joey O'Brien was sent-off for two bookable offences with 25 minutes remaining and Alex Pearce put the Royals in front within 60 seconds. Substitute SImon Church then scored either side of Wales international team-mate Jack Collison being shown the red card for a challenge on Jimmy Kebe.
Big Sam was honest in his assessment of both his players' lack of discipline and failure to defend properly after going a man down.
"It was a lack of discipline from our players for no reason at all, basically. We have thrown the game away by getting two players sent-off, I think that was the only difference between the sides and, if anything, we had created the better chances up to then even though we weren't playing to our best.
"We were certainly in the game and had three or four chances to score goals but didn't get that one-goal lead that we wanted.
"That irresponsibility of getting sent-off was very, very costly. Whether the referee is right or wrong, you don't put yourself in that position. You could argue about the sending-offs but at the end of the day it can't change the result.
"The thing is not to put yourself in the position to be sent-off. Joey's second yellow should have been avoided if he'd stayed on his feet. Jack shouldn't have done what he did either because that left us struggling in a game we shouldn't have struggled in.
"To boot, we let them score immediately after Joey got sent-off when we had to defend a free-kick. It's a shame that it's happened. These things in a game of football can go against you and that's what's happened and cost us the game. It wasn't what Reading were doing."
The manager rued his side's profligacy, particularly when Freddie Piquionne spurned a header at the back post and was then upended as he raced through on goal. There was also a great first-half chance for Papa Bouba Diop when he did not quite connect properly from James Tomkins' knockdown when in front of goal.
The loss of Demel and O'Brien and Collison to suspension means the remaining players will have to rise to the challenge against Barnsley on Saturday. The manager is hopeful that one or two may return to boost his selection options.
"We haven't got many left! Only Henri Lansbury is nearly ready, so we're really going to be down to the wire next week. We may have a slight outside chance of getting Matt Taylor back, but that would be it, and Henri has only played 60 minutes in eight weeks.
"We've lost two games on the trot so it's been our worst day of the whole season. One, the way we lost it. Two, we had two men sent-off. Three, Guy getting injured. So nothing went right for us, I'm afraid."