KEITH Curle said his side were dealt a harsh lesson that they must learn from, after letting a two-goal lead slip in their 3-2 Papa John’s Trophy defeat at Tranmere Rovers last night.

Latics progressed in the competition by the skin of their teeth, after Micky Mellon’s side overhauled the two-goal lead Zak Dearnley established with a classy first-half double at Prenton Park.

The result meant Curle’s men ended Group B level on points with third-placed Salford City, with the same goal difference, and so finished second by virtue of having beaten The Ammies in their opening group game to go into Saturday’s draw, where they will be handed an away tie.

But while Curle was pleased to still be involved in the Football League Trophy, having stayed in the hat for the FA Cup with a first-round draw at Ipswich, he was frustrated that they were unable to hang on to their lead, and felt his players had got “a bit carried away” by their 2-0 advantage.

“My immediate thoughts are we’re through, it’s always good to make progress in a cup competition,” said the head coach after the game.

“We had a decent performance on Saturday, good shape, good understanding, good result in the end against a very good team.

“We came here, 2-0 up and the players got a bit carried away and they think they haven’t got to do the hard yards.

“Stopping crosses, is it really that important? Yes it is.

“That’s what’s undone us. Thirty seconds before half time we allowed a cross into our box, the kid’s done well at the back post but we need to get our players to do more attacking that back post. I think they call it POMO - position of maximum opportunity.

“Goals change games. It’s disappointing then with their second goal, lose a tackle in midfield, get isolated one v one in wide areas, got beat too easy and their lad makes the run into the box that I’m trying to get my centre forwards to do, get across the defender and make contact with the ball and get it on goal.

“The third goal - we’re not set to play out, but we play out. We take our own players out of the game. That’s game management.

“I understanding the willingness. Five minutes before that we’ve hit a goal kick up to Harrison (McGahey), we’re playing two up front, Harrison’s won the header and we’re two v two against them, and it works, so why not do it again. But no, we try to complicate it. In the heat of battle you want to do well, but do what works well for the team.”

Curle was, however, pleased with the goals Latics scored.

“That’s the icing on the cake for Zak, coming back in and getting minutes, getting 90 minutes under his belt and scoring two goals. All strikers want to score goals,” he said.